Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Higgs Boson

So I've spent the last few days ruminating on today's post. I've spent an awful lot of time here criticising the way our little species is governing itself but I've also made it clear that criticism without alternatives is pointless. If I have a mission statement, which I don't because I'm not that kind of cunt, it would be to suggest a better world. So I decided to spend a lot of time and thought writing up a manifesto. The policies I want to see put forward the kind of things that I would vote for and that I think would make the world a better place. It was an exceptionally well thought out piece of writing that had real potential to make a difference. Unfortunately you won't get to read it just yet because holy jesus-balls on a cracker they've got all sorts of Higgs up in my boson.

This is the man who is going to win this years Nobel Prize for physics.

Today the LHC announced that they've found what appears to be the Higgs particle. I say appears because this is science bitches and we don't just stamp a fifth sigma on something and prance off into the night like a religionist. It has all the hallmarks of a Higgs and was found exactly where we last left the Higgs so it's got a definite chance of being a Higgs. You know, if it looks like a fundamental particle, walks like a fundamental particle and quacks like a fundamental particle it's probably a fundamental particle. Anyway I'm going to try to break down what exactly a Higgs is.

This is the image that'll be the front cover of the next decades science textbooks

I recently mentioned that some religious types use the lack of scientific understanding of gravity and mass to justify the existence of the Jesosaur. Well the Higgs, if it is what it is, is why we have gravity. First of I want you to imagine the universe is all 2D because it's just fucking easier that way. Now imagine that it's also a massive spiders web, and that the web is covered with invisible spiders. When a fly lands in the web the spiders flock towards it. This causes the web to sag. Are you with me so far? The slumps in the web of the universe are what causes gravity, stuff just rolls into the dips and what not. The Higgs particle is essentially like the fly and the Higgs field is the spiders. Also the fly is invisible as well. Up until now we've only been able to guess at the existence of both spiders and flies due to the fact that gravity happens. However we've now found evidence of the fly. We know we were right. By we here I of course mean all people who subscribe to the Standard Model of Physics, I did very little on this project other than come up with the bitching spider analogy. So what next?

I mean, I guess you could have a wicked game of laser-tag there.

Well these experiments will have to be replicated a whole bunch of times, because that's science, until everyone's all like. 'Yep! Definitely a Higgs. Huzzah!' Because some things just deserve a huzzah. It will also be a period of intense focus in the physics community. There's a new toy... we need to find out what it does. How does it react to being bombarded with gamma radiation? What happens if we fling a whole bunch into the heart of a reactor? What is it's relationship with cats? This will generate a massive leap forward in the understanding of how the universe works, anyone working on non-Higgs related theories of quantum mechanics will refocus their energy in what we now know is the correct direction. By the end of the next decade Brian Cox will have a whole new bunch of reasons to stare wistfully into the sky.

This is the man who'll be explaining this for the next four years

The real important thing though is that now we know what it is that controls mass we can start messing with it. This is fucking awesome. You see we went from knowing what an atom was to blowing up Japan with them in less than 50 years. If we master the Higgs as quickly it'll be astonishing. You see the speed of an object with no mass is c. As in E=mc2. As in the speed of light. With a Higgs nullification field Mars is a four minute trip away. Alpha Centauri is less than 5 years away. All of this without having to worry about the effects of acceleration and inertia because we'll be plugging zero into the mass field on all of the relevant equations and seeing as it's nearly always multiply by mass it'll take most calculations down to zero.

I hope that our ability never catches up with our imagination

Look I know I'm babbling about the distant end of human scientific advancement but this breakthrough lets us know where that distant end is. It informs fantasy because it lets us know exactly what the first barrier to getting of this rock is... it's that bastard Higgs particle. Quantum theory gave us an understanding of electrons that in turn gave us the transistor and by extension every piece of technology that exists. This might be the next jump, where it'll land us we have no idea and that's just so exciting it actually makes me slightly nervous. Maybe it's not going to help us get to our nearest neighbouring star but maybe it'll bring the stars another step closer to us.

Lets just get the fuck out there.

I'd like to finish up by echoing the sentiment of Fabiola Gianotti, leader of the ATLAS team who made this discovery and a person very likely to have something important named after her, by simply saying “Thanks nature.”

eddie <last one to europa is a rotten egg>

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