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Growing Consensus: The Higgs Boson Exists 254

It's a long, slow road from tentative discovery, to various forms of peer review, to wide acceptance, never mind theory and experimental design, but recent years' work to pin down the Higgs Boson seem to be bearing fruit in the form of cautious announcements. FBeans writes with excerpts from both the New York Times ("Physicists announced Thursday they believe they have discovered the subatomic particle predicted nearly a half-century ago, which will go a long way toward explaining what gives electrons and all matter in the universe size and shape.") and from The Independent ("Cern says that confirming what type of boson the particle is could take years and that the scientists would need to return to the Large Hadron Collider — the world's largest 'atom smasher' — to carry out further tests. This will measure at what rate the particle decays and compare it with the results of predictions, as theorised by Edinburgh professor Peter Higgs 50 years ago.")
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Growing Consensus: The Higgs Boson Exists

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  • Re:Faith (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FBeans ( 2201802 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @12:53PM (#43172659)
    I'm not quite sure what that question is. I think the answer you may be looking for is: The Scientific Method!
  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:00PM (#43172767)

    I'd prefer to hear about a truce between ardent atheists and fundamentalists where the former stops trying to disprove the existence of a divine creator and the latter stops trying to ban the teaching of evolution.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:03PM (#43172817)

    No doubt this "consensus" is based on just as much evidence as the "consensus" around global warming. Gotta wonder how long until these scientists start requesting **billions** more dollars to look for another invisible magic fairy particle. Can we really trust people who's living requires endless taxpayer handouts?

    Ron Paul 2016

  • by femtobyte ( 710429 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:07PM (#43172897)

    Consensus is very much part of the scientific method as it is actually practiced, even if not in an over-simplified theory of it. In practice, the people forming the consensus are smart, rational folks who rely on the "mathematical property of repeated observations" as much as possible. However, even with a few experiments reporting the same number --- how well do folks trust that there were not common systematic errors impacting all of them (it has certainly happened before)? That the results are not misinterpreted due to mistakes in the calculations, or missed effects? Forming a consensus within the scientific community that the reported numbers are *trustworthy* is a critical part of the actual existing scientific process: it's called peer review, and catches a lot of honest mistakes that a "just trust the numbers; don't bring your human experience/intuition/skepticism into it" approach would not.

  • Re:Proof (Score:5, Insightful)

    by femtobyte ( 710429 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @01:15PM (#43172989)

    "generally accepted scientific fact" = consensus --- otherwise, what's the "generally accepted" part? There is no stronger scientific definition of "fact" that transcends a general consensus based on a multitude of apparently properly done confirming experiments.

  • by FBeans ( 2201802 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:04PM (#43173909)

    All these government scientists know they can keep getting grant money toeing the standard modelist line.

    And besides, even if the Higgs Field does exist, it doesn't prove the theory is correct, so why should we be spending millions of dollars to change textbooks when there is nothing we can do with this knowledge anyway.

    When the electron was discovered, it could have also, and naively been considered useless. However here we are commenting on the latest discovery of science, utilising that very knowledge. The point is, you don't know what will be usefull and what won't be useful. Besides it's fun, interesting and nearly always useful to learn how the universe works. The internet was made at CERN, you could say as a result of this research. So.....

  • by DocSavage64109 ( 799754 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @02:14PM (#43174057)
    On the home page: Physicists: 'God particle' is real []
  • Re:Faith (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @04:57PM (#43175981)

    Every predomently atheist society has the same rules, even those rare cultures that have no concept of religion. You're trying to argue that religion and morality are the same thing, which they need not be. It's true to a certain extent, most religions codify those morals, but then again, so do most governments.

  • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday March 14, 2013 @05:04PM (#43176091) Homepage

    Regardless, most religions tend to worship a god that tells us to be good to each other,

    Can I join you on whatever planet you're posting from? Seems a lot better than mine in this respect. On THIS planet we have bad tempered narcissistic sky gods with a serious inferiority complex who are either diddling with family members or structuring wholesale genocide.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 14, 2013 @05:19PM (#43176247)

    Where did it come from? What caused it to explode?

    While that would be nice to know, not knowing doesn't preclude it from existing, unless there is some unresolved contradiction.

    If it was infinite, where's the rest of it?

    Infinity does not work that way. Just because it may have been infinitely dense, does not mean it had infinite mass, e.g. something analogous to a Dirac delta function.

    Because we live in what appears to be an expanding universe, we take a leap of faith and assume that it all spring forth from a single point.

    That isn't a leap a faith, unless some one asserts they are 100% true of it. It is an inference. There is a rather big difference.

    There is really only one big assumption that requires faith behind science: that there exists a logical, invariant explanation behind what we observe. And that assumption is pretty much required of any belief structure, because otherwise it would be nonsensical to and useless to ascribe a reason or pattern to something that does not have any. Everything else is a matter of inferences from observations, and always subject to change due to new observations (even though many slashdotters may be to willing to treat such things pure deductive logic when they are not).

    This does allow for some people to rationally believe in God and religious depending on their life experiences and knowledge. Rational does not necessarily lead to correct decisions if you are given limited or incorrect information. But there are potential problems when they refuse to question or look at things that could contradict the details of their belief, i.e. refusing to seek out new information. And it becomes a matter of faith when they transition from saying, "I think I am right based on what I've experienced, but I may be wrong," to, "It is absolutely impossible for me to be wrong." And saying, "I am absolutely certain I am correct, and that is based on what I've experienced," does not reverse that transition.

"Remember, extremism in the nondefense of moderation is not a virtue." -- Peter Neumann, about usenet