Regarding the Higgs Boson

You’re a smart bunch, so I thought maybe one of you might be able to answer a question that’s been bugging me.

Okay, so: Physicists theorize that there’s this mysterious particle called the Higgs Boson. If it exists, it helps them answer some important questions about matter. So to find out if it exists, they build an accelerator. But they don’t find it, so they build another accelerator. That one doesn’t find it either, so they build a bigger one. My question is, at what point will they consider that perhaps the Higgs Boson conjecture is false? Will they continue building larger and larger accelerators and colliders, always hoping that the next one will be The One? I’m no physicist (far from it) but after seeing so many examples of it not being found, I’m starting to wonder what it will take for them to throw out that theory and consider a new one.

I’m sure there’s someone here who better understands this stuff who might be willing to enlighten me. :slight_smile:

PS - Please let’s try to keep this discussion from “devolving” into a debate about evolution. Please. Thank you.

They’ll probably continue to build bigger and bigger accelerators until they run of money or space, you know modern science, Al Gore may end up continuing to talk about catastrophic warming if the Earth ends up in an Ice Age for example.

Modern Science (Mo-dern Si-ense) N. - Try to prove something is true with all means, even if it always proves to be false the first 100 times because it just can’t be false.

Only one reply and already the thread is going political… :frowning:

I’m just saying modern science can be messed up, see my definition.

True, religion takes up a lot less space and money. Let’s drop all research into the origin and workings of this universe and take the easy way instead.

Modern Religion - Try to claim something is true despite the fact you can’t prove it.

Oh, if a group of major scientists proclaims the theory that a wormhole can be made with bathroom soap to be true due to properties of soap, then like the theory of the higgs boson, would millions of dollars and decades of research be invested to try to prove it, even if the first 5000 experiments proves bathroom soap is nothing special?

Is finding this higgs boson for example worth the massive investment of money, will it really be big enough of a discovery to do this, or will it be a huge waste?

At the point when one of the accelerators creates a tiny black hole that will eventually swallow the entire Universe, and all that will be left is a small group of … Higgs bosons :stuck_out_tongue:

just remember that these “failed” accelerator will also be used for research for other quantum physics theory and concepts so it is not quite a waste of money.

though I agree that it is quite a bit of a money sinkhole and I wish that they could reserve thee money for more practical researchs like organ creations, better water filter (for 3rd world country), cheaper PC (even cheaper and better than the $100 laptop), especially better commuting options, and transportations alternatives.

Just to be clear: Wasn’t the Higgs boson already found by a German and Dutch scientist who worked at Cern. They won a Nobel prize for that achievement (in the 80’s I think).

Furthermore, the Higgs boson is nothing more than the particle that is responsible for gravity isn’t it? So just like in analogy, photons are the force carriers for electro magnetism, it would be cool if filtering and modulation techniques could be applied too for Higgs bosons. Imagine floating skateboards an such.

  1. They don’t keep building bigger and bigger accelerators just for this one experiment. They do it so they can see deeper and deeper into particles and so they can actually conduct experiments that will yield information regarding to the various physics theories bouncing around. It’s a learning thing… we just want to know more.

  2. Science is not at all a process of trying to prove something no matter how many times it’s been disproven or whatever the hell CD is trying to say.

  3. The accelerators are like NASA - something else a lot of people have a hard time justifying the expense for - in that the development of them tends to create a market for progressive technology. The technology has to advance to a certain point before something like this is attainable, and the drive to achieve that lavel of technology is ne of the things that may very well lead to a better water filter, cheaper energy, the $50 wrist-worn VR computer and various other interesting technologies. These things must occur in order for technology to become widespread. Were it not for the ultra-high tech secret projects of decades ago, you wouldn’t even have a PC right now - your TV would still use tubes, your microwaves would not exist, etc, etc, etc.

Bottom line is that just because you don’t like or “agree” with some of the scientific studies or findings floating around out there doesn’t mean that science or the scientific process is inherently evil or flawed. These guys aren’t looking for this stuff so hard because they can’t deal with the idea that it’s not ‘true’, but that all of the calcultions which predict certain things which DO exist ALSO states that these other things ALSO exist. We look for them not just for proof, as tho we needed proof for validation, but because the things we could then continue to learn by studying the newly discovered particle could turn up new answers or questions and shed light on old ideas or form new ones.

This page has an interesting explanation

1. The Higgs Mechanism

Imagine a cocktail party of political party workers who are uniformly distributed across the floor, all talking to their nearest neighbours. The ex-Prime Minister enters and crosses the room. All of the workers in her neighbourhood are strongly attracted to her and cluster round her. As she moves she attracts the people she comes close to, while the ones she has left return to their even spacing. Because of the knot of people always clustered around her she acquires a greater mass than normal, that is she has more momentum for the same speed of movement across the room. Once moving she is hard to stop, and once stopped she is harder to get moving again because the clustering process has to be restarted. In three dimensions, and with the complications of relativity, this is the Higgs mechanism. In order to give particles mass, a background field is invented which becomes locally distorted whenever a particle moves through it. The distortion - the clustering of the field around the particle - generates the particle’s mass. The idea comes directly from the physics of solids. Instead of a field spread throughout all space a solid contains a lattice of positively charged crystal atoms. When an electron moves through the lattice the atoms are attracted to it, causing the electron’s effective mass to be as much as 40 times bigger than the mass of a free electron.
The postulated Higgs field in the vacuum is a sort of hypothetical lattice which fills our Universe. We need it because otherwise we cannot explain why the Z and W particles which carry the weak interactions are so heavy while the photon which carries electromagnetic forces is massless.

Well put, Squiggly P. I only hope CD reads your post and decides to reject modern science completely.

Maybe they found something wrong with the accelerators that they built? Maybe they didnt do what they needed it to do. Maybe there is too much proof (mathematical or otherwise) to make the theory worth the wastes.

I mean sure, it’s a lot of time, money, and work; but lets be real. How many of us rendered a perfect human the first time we used blender? Blender was a 3d modeler before, but how many of us could render a decent photorealistic anything without catmul clark, or sss? The next one is bigger and better, and eventually it will either do what it needs to do, or people will move on.

Personally, I like Thomas Edison’s quote
“I havent failed, I’ve found 10,000 ways it doesnt work.”

The Higgs boson is the quantization of the proposed Higgs field, which is believed to be responsible for the material property of mass. That is to say, it is the Higgs boson that gives matter its mass, just like photons are for electromagnitism and glueons are for the strong force.

The current leading accelerator is the Tevatron at Fermilab, which is able to probe at around the 1 TeV range. The LHC will be able to reach energies of around 7 TeV. The problem is that the Higgs is still very mysterious, even at the theoretical level. We have an idea of the range of masses it should have, but not exactly. According to theoretical models drawn from the Standard Model, it will have a mass of somewhere between 114 GeV and 144 GeV. For comparison, a proton has a mass of slightly less than 1 GeV–that is to say, the Higgs is very heavy.

So according to most current theories, the Tevatron is just too weak to explore the Higgs. This leads most of us to believe that, with the initiation of the LHC, it shouldn’t be long until we get positive results, supposing the Higgs does indeed exist.

Concerning how long we’ll look? Well, like I said, we have a range of masses where we think it is. As far as I know, the LHC surpasses our upper bound, so building a larger collider would be overkill. And if we will keep perusing the Higgs until we find it or come up with a different theory that better explains the everyday, yet (if you think about it) completely baffeling phenomenon of mass.

And to say that this is a wasted project is entirely short sighted. Where do you think the Internet came from? Who do you think is pushing the limits on computational power and storage? Who is developing new materials and alloys? Who is discovering new states of matter (MRIs would be useless without the superconductors we developed)? And so on…

It’s an exciting time to be a physicist! :smiley:


“at what point will they consider that perhaps the Higgs Boson conjecture is false?”
Well, since nobody has yet seen a Higgs Boson, how would they know what size accelerator to build?
This is scientific research. Where would mankind be today if we had no scientific research?
Frankly, mankind would be in the same predicament that most of Africa is in. Here nobody gets involved or promote scientific research. Except for our esteemed president Thabo Mbeki. About three years ago he did actually do some research of his own on the internet. He read a website that claimed that HIV does not cause Aids. With a complete disregard for years of modern scientific research, he promptly made a statement that the government will not give free medicine to HIV+ patients at all. Of course, shortly afterwards, he approved a 57% anual salary increase for himself!
This is a true story and anyone in South Africa can tell you many more. Now, I would much much rather spend my tax dollars on scientific research, whether they actually find any Higgs Boson or not, than on dumb people that think it is a waste of time or money.

It took several centuries to prove Fermat’s last conjecture.
Incredibly skilled mathematicians failed. And yet Andrew Wiles got it in the beginning of the 90’s.
Over the years (several 100’s!), mathematicians developped a whole range of new tools, axioms, etc… So the quest hasn’t been vain: the quest itself was an “enrichment”
So don’t despear, maybe i seems like a waste of money, but i’m sure it helps understanding the world around better.

Of course some people don’t want to understand anything…

No, I understand the value of the accelerators. My question is about the Higgs Boson specifically. I know the accelerators are very useful, but I’m just wondering how long they intend to keep looking for the Boson “just beyond the next ridge,” as it were. At what point do they say, “Huh. Every time we thought we were going to find it, we didn’t. Maybe it doesn’t exist.” ?

If I am understanding your question, it appears that it has roots in an unfamiliarity with the scientific method.

A scientist does observations and notices things that happen. They make a hypothesis about why it happens. The hypothesis makes predictions about what will happen under certain conditions. Finally the scientist does an experiment under those conditions to test the hypothesis.

It is just that the current hypothesis predicting the existence of the Higgs Boson is not precise enough to predict how big an accelerator you’ll need to see it. They are pretty sure it is between 114 GeV and 144 GeV. Which means the existing Tevatron at Fermilab is too weak.

The precise answer to your question is: if an accelerator that can go up to 144 Gev does not see a Higgs Boson, chances are there will be no available funding for a more powerful accelerator.

I often wish science had the same properties of religion, in regards to the idea of a faith based god whose entire existence depends on your unwitting belief without evidence.

I was once told by a colleague at work that Einsteins theory of Relativity had been sufficiently debunked, and that there was no evidence to support quantum mechanics. Darwin too was a crock. What really bothered me is that he claimed no particular religious zealotry that would bring him to those conclusions. He simply refused to believe in logic through observation.

How I wished that when he went home, his TV, Microwave, and Computer would simply stop working.

IDK, maybe it’s like any BGE project. You can’t seem to do one thing or another, so you try something more complex. You throw that idea out and resort to python. Then you throw that script out and make another, bigger, more complex one. Then it finally works.