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Search for Higgs "God Particle" Gets Interesing 392

Posted by kdawson
from the putting-the-standard-model-to-bed dept.
holy_calamity writes "The Large Hadron Collider is in trouble again. It will start work sometime in spring 2008, not November this year as planned. The delay has been blamed on an 'accumulation of minor setbacks,' and comes on top of a 'design fault' that saw breakdown of magnets supplied by the competing Fermilab. Yesterday Slate nicely rounded up increasingly loud rumors among physicists that Fermilab may already have seen the Higgs particle, the 'holy grail of particle physics' the LHC was build to find."
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Search for Higgs "God Particle" Gets Interesing

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  • god? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dmitrygr (736758) <dmitrygr@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:18PM (#19400685) Homepage
    "God"? What has god got to do with this?
  • by u-bend (1095729) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:22PM (#19400759) Homepage Journal
    >for it's editor
    Did you mean that? Poignant!
  • Re:god? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jonny_eh (765306) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:29PM (#19400869)
    God has as much to do with this as Zeus.

    This whole 'God Particle' term is an embarrassment to science, it sounds catchy but just gets the religious believers excited. Maybe we should've called stem cells 'god' cells, and maybe Bush wouldn't have cut its research funding.
  • Bizarre (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iamacat (583406) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:33PM (#19400927)
    Why should any scientist hope that standard model will or will not turn out to be true? Nature doesn't care how many billions was spent on a new particle accelerator. Just be happy that we may have discovered something new and move on to a million things that we still don't understand, including much of what's happening on our own planet.
  • by RMB2 (936187) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:34PM (#19400939)
    I'm getting rather bothered by continuously seeing these /. posts implying that scientists are so non-cooperative. The last few stories about LHC have even nearly insinuated that it was somehow Fermilab's fault that there were design issues with the magnet structures, almost as if the mistakes had been intentional.

    Perhaps the men and women working in the more news-worthy branches of accelerator physics have to try and defeat each other. My experiences have only ever been constructive and helpful; contemporaries offering knowledge, insight and advice to help my research succeed, rather than breaking the equipment so they can steal the glory.

    I hope that /. editors become aware of the slant they have continuously put on the LHC setback stories.
  • Re:Bizarre (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser (49529) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:39PM (#19401021) Homepage Journal
    They care about finding out one way or another so they can move on to other investigations. Many scientists are just as happy to find out the theory they are testing is *disproven* as they are when it's *proven*. It's about advancing the body of knowledge.
  • Re: $8,000,000,000 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zmollusc (763634) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @03:16PM (#19401611)
    Pffft! We could build 2 for the money we are pissing away on the 2012 olympics.

    Or, more likely, we could build 1 for $80,000,000,000.
  • Purpose of the LHC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sidb (530400) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @03:34PM (#19401897) Homepage
    The LHC is not being built for the express purpose of finding the Higgs boson. It's being built to find whatever there is to find at very high energies, and the Higgs boson is simply one of the most anticipated possibilities. There are four main detectors around the acceleration ring, and each contains a bewildering array of instrumentation to detect all sorts of things that might occur. Even if Fermilab beats LHC to this particular confirmation, there is plenty of purpose to continuing LHC, contrary to the /. summary's implication.
  • Re:god? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by plague3106 (71849) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @03:43PM (#19402039)
    I agree that the other crap can go, but given the choice between publicly funded medical research which anyone could use the results of, and privately funded that will find a 'cure' and sell it for a mere $10 million a pop, I'd take the former. Also, I don't think we need more pills to help rich old white men get it up... but that's what we're getting when greed decides what research is 'worthy.'
  • Re:God particle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @03:53PM (#19402191)
    You have the same exact problem with "God" explanations, as well.

    How did the God come into being?

    If God were self-existent, why not the Universe? Wouldn't it be more sensible to have a self-existent universe, than a self-existent God, who is by definition separate from the Universe? (by def: if not by def, then why use another term than "Universe" or "Nature"?)
  • Re:God particle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:09PM (#19402459) Homepage

    So basically this will reduce "God"'s role in the creation of the universe further back before the big bang

    Why must we use physics to support atheistic antagonization of religious people? What relation does one thing have to another? I'll give you a tip here: If someone believes in God today, the discovery of a new particle tomorrow won't make the stop believing.

    There's no room for argumentation; if you posit the existence of an all-powerful god, then it would be within that god's power to make the universe however he chose. He could have made it so that all scientific evidence and all possible human understanding would imply that the universe had always existed. If you held this belief, it would not be the sort of belief that science deals with, and therefore no amount of scientific discovery could take away from it.

    And before you start flaming me, calling me a crazy zealot or whatever you like, it may be worthwhile to note that I don't hold the sort of belief I'm describing. I just wish that people wouldn't waste all this energy antagonizing each other for no reason. If your grand hope for science is to refute some religion's particular creation myth, then you'll only waste your own time and try other people's patience.

  • Re:god? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lgw (121541) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:14PM (#19402531) Journal
    I'm trying to follow you here: you'd rather see no cure than a cure that costs $10 million a pop (and presumably $10 a pop in fifty years, technology being what it is)? Here's a hint: rich people willing to spend absurd amounts of money to extend their lives by 6 months fund most of medical research. What do you propose: "no, no, you don't deserve to live another 6 months, so you're not allowed to spend your money, meanwhile we'll take everyone's tax dollars instead"?

    As for "greed deciding": the only true measure of the worth of anything is what people are willing to pay for it. Or do you instead favor aristocracy? The "worthy, wise men" decide the value of everything and dictate it to the unwashed masses? I think I'll take "greed deciding" over "plague3106 deciding", thank you.
  • Simple (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:20PM (#19402595) Homepage Journal
    The more we understand the universe around us, the bigger God gets.

    Of course the bigger Gods gets, the more the bible becomes a collection of stories by men, and then edited by a council of people, and not the direct word of God. Something some people can not handle.

    But the heart of your post is correct-If someone believe Pink Invisible Ponies created the universe, then no amount of logic will change that.

  • Re:Bizarre (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dan Ost (415913) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:23PM (#19402655)
    If we run a bunch of tests and they all agree with the current model, then that doesn't prove anything. However, if we run a single test and it disagrees with the model, then we've proved that there is something wrong with the current model and the model is either adapted or replaced.

    This is how science progresses.
  • by Dan Ost (415913) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:43PM (#19402933)
    I suspect that if you dug a little deeper, you would find that the scientists who are running experiments at Fermilab are, largely, the same scientists that will be running experiments at CERN once it's completed.

    I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

    You see, it's the scientists who get the grants, not the collider, and the scientists will rent time on whatever collider they think is suitable for their experiments.
  • God of the gaps (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Vellmont (569020) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:52PM (#19403127)

    So basically this will reduce "God"'s role in the creation of the universe further back before the big bang


    Why must we use physics to support atheistic antagonization of religious people?

    I think the real question here is, why does religion have to try to explain unexplained phenomenon? Historically it's done a VERY poor job of that. Every time religion tries to explain away something, along comes someone like Galileo or Darwin with an explanation that doesn't require a god.

    Religion should get out of the explanations business, and I'd argue even the "don't eat that" business and focus on the "don't do this/that" business. Not that we're all happy with the particulars of the "don't do this/that", but at least no one can prove you wrong.

    There's always gaps in our knowledge and understanding of the natural world. Pulling out a god to fill the gaps is a losing game.
  • Re:Bizarre (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phat_Tony (661117) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @05:29PM (#19403719)
    Yes, this is a nice idea. Scientists don't have egos, or personal investments in being right about things. Experiments showing negative results have equal chances of being published as papers showing positive results. Funding sources won't consider a scientist's past success record, their publication record, or how many new theories of theirs were proven versus disproven in determining funding. And even if they did, scientists are pure and don't care about money or funding or prestige for themselves or their labs or their institutions.

    The graduate students I know aren't eager to come up with theories that they can back up with experiments showing positive results that will lead to getting published in a peer reviewed journal and them getting their PhD, because as a scientific principle, they know that negative results are just as important as positive results, because either one produces more scientific knowledge about whatever they're investigating.

    Similarly, businesses don't care if they succeed or fail, because a failure is simply and act of market-place creative destruction, invalidating their business model, or the way they went about pursuing it, and thereby providing valuable information to the market place about the usefulness of that model, and helping to direct resources more productively in the future.

    Don't read too much into my sarcasm. I don't for a second think that Fermilab intentionally sabotaged the parts they made for CERN. But I also don't think that all scientists follow a selfless, single-minded, wholly objective devotion to the pursuit of natural truth, with complete disregard for ego, self-promotion, their career, their reputation, or any consideration for their own well-being.
  • Re:god? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @05:44PM (#19403905) Homepage
    I'm trying to follow you here: you'd rather see no cure than a cure that costs $10 million a pop (and presumably $10 a pop in fifty years, technology being what it is)?

    No, that's not what he said at all. He's saying he'd rather see a cure developed using public funds so that anybody can make it for $10 a pop today, vs a privately developed one sold at $10 million a pop with $10 being the hope for fifty years down the line.

    As for "greed deciding": the only true measure of the worth of anything is what people are willing to pay for it. Or do you instead favor aristocracy? The "worthy, wise men" decide the value of everything and dictate it to the unwashed masses? I think I'll take "greed deciding" over "plague3106 deciding", thank you.

    What a sad commentary when the only "worth" someone can see as "true" is the dollar value placed on it. Aside from more philosophical questions, it should be pretty obvious to any capitalist that one can distort and hide something's value so as to either artificially increase or decrease its price. If I convince you that a given item has little value, but in truth I value it highly, what represents its true value better?

    And I see you only acknowledge laise faire capitalism and aristocracy as the only choices. Whatever happened to democracy? Or has the voice of the people no worth, since in a secret ballot election you can't (reliably) buy votes?
  • Re:God of the gaps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @06:01PM (#19404089) Homepage

    I really don't want to get into a very theological argument here (I tried to avoid it in my post because i think it goes off-topic), but since people are doing the exact sort of thing i was hoping they wouldn't, I'll say more.

    I'd prefer to say it this way: Religious thought won't yield good scientific explanations, and neither will science provide good theological explanations. Religion is properly in the business of describing the natural world, but not in the business of providing scientific and "objective" explanations. In other words, using religious "explanations" to fill gaps in your scientific knowledge is improper, but using religion to increase your understanding of the world is not improper. These two different worlds offer two different types of explanations.

    People seem to think that, since there is only one world, there should only be one explanation for that world. However, as the long history of philosophy clearly illustrates, there are many different things that can be said about the same object. If you asked me about a Coke can, I might say it's made of metal, and someone else might say that the same can is cylindrical; we would not be arguing. If that person said, "It's cylindrical" and I said, "No! It's metallic!" then my response wouldn't make sense. The "debate" between religion and science is similar to this-- they're talking about different things, but the debaters often fail to grasp that "science" and "God" conflict with each other no more (in fact less!) than "metal" and "cylinder".

    So if we properly understand the religious claim that "God created the universe", then we would all see that no science could ever conflict with this claim. It's simply not a scientific claim, but instead it informs our relationship to the universe. It claims that the universe is planned by the source of all Good, and therefore the universe is itself "good". It's a claim that we properly have a place and a role within the universe, since we were made to be in it, and so therefore we are good too. It doesn't matter whether there was, at some point, a "big bang," because the religious explanation cannot be refuted by empirical facts or scientific theories.

    Unfortunately, even the people arguing in favor of the "religious" description sometimes forget the purpose of the explanation. They mistake the explanation for a scientific explanation of the material creation of the universe. And also the scientists forget-- they start to believe that they can discover the goodness and meaning of the universe (or "disprove" the existence of goodness and meaning) if they find just one more particle, smaller than those that have been observed before. All these things are nonsense.

  • Re:Simple (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Von Helmet (727753) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @06:06PM (#19404153)

    Are you going from "Don't use science to antagonise religious people" to "Religious people are insane and allergic to logic" in just one move?

    Nice.

  • Re:god? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lgw (121541) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @08:36PM (#19405479) Journal
    For all that rant, you still didn't answer my question (I think). I define the value of a product (or service) P to person A as "what person A is willing to pay for P". You seem to have confused that idea a bit with "what person A payed for P last time around", but no matter. What is your alternative proposal?

    Are you saying "a team of experts, chosen by democratic process, knows better than person A the value of P to A"? If you are proposing some different mechanism I didn't see it.

    Please tell me what your better idea is! Or I guess you could instead attack the "democracy hater" strawman some more, if that makes you happy.
  • Re:God of the gaps (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @08:56PM (#19405623) Homepage Journal
    "Religious thought won't yield good scientific explanations, and neither will science provide good theological explanations."

    Only because the scientific methods doesn't allow made up hogwash to be considered 'facts'.

    The debate occurs because people who believe fairy tails want to dictate to every one else how the world works. Science must respond with facts and logic.

    If people didn't try to control others to teach their nonsense and push parables as facts then there woudl be no debate, because quite frankly scientist have better things to do. As long as people , many of them have never read the whole bible or even know there own theology, keep trying to push the tooth fairy, we need to show them that they are wrong.

    Keep your make believe invisible man crap to yourself, and everybody will be fine.
  • by Doofus (43075) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @09:31PM (#19405821)
    It's been ages since I posted anything on /., but I simply couldn't let this go.

    Religion is properly in the business of describing the natural world ...
    Religion proffers numerous unprovable, often flatly wrong, assertions about the natural world, and relates these unprovables to a supernatural world. References abound - here's one winner: "It still moves [wikipedia.org]".

    Your soda can analogy is faulty, as both participants in the discussion are describing testable observations of said soda can. Religion, on the other hand, offers no testable observations (not unlike certain modern cosmological theories, by the way).

    You assert that religion "informs our relationship to the universe"; in fact, religion obscures our relationship with the natural world, by positing thunderbolt-wielding gods, fairies in the forest, and numerous ridiculous stories about reward or punishment in the "next world", or reincarnation as a cat. And noodly appendages, but that's another story.

    Unfortunately, where your discussion finally fails is here:

    ...because the religious explanation cannot be refuted by empirical facts or scientific theories.

    Consistently and steadily, the diligent and careful application of reason and the scientific method have pulled away the veil religion and other superstitions have placed before humanity's sight. In the long run, religious explanations have repeatedly yielded to the supremacy of tolerance, reason and science, and they ever will.

    Again, see: "It still moves [wikipedia.org]".

Nothing is more admirable than the fortitude with which millionaires tolerate the disadvantages of their wealth. -- Nero Wolfe

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