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So, what is the God particle?

30 March 2012, 19:57

Some time ago, I was amused to read about a guy being arrested at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland, claiming he was from the future and sent to our time to destroy the machine, as it was the cause of the end of the world.

Whilst swallowing an uneasy chuckle at how crazy some people are, I did start wondering what the progress with the world explaining contraption was.

For some reason, it disappeared from the world’s focus for some time now, only managing a news splash on page three or four of most newspapers around the world.

For a machine that occupied 30 years development time and cost an initial $ 8 Billion to build, calling it a bit of a letdown is a massive understatement.

Almost certainly, the world’s top banks's contribution to society in 2008 placed a bit of a media damper on the machine, as it just wasn’t cool to read of technology costing more to operate than, let’s say, Spain, whilst property speculators added your bank-repo'd house as the next bargain to their auction ridden shopping sprees.  

I suppose the publicists representing the 800 scientists involved can be excused for having it receive modest media coverage.

I think, irrespective of costs, deep down in every human being, the hope that experiments like these will continue, remains as alive now, as the day it collided with its first particle years ago.

Though, few would have the guts to acknowledge it.

I am, by no measure a scientist or physicist, but when the former and latter start using terms like “God particle” when prompted to supply reasons for the existence of black hole producing machines, I do intend to notice what they are saying.

 In short, the Higgs boson, or “God particle”, is a subatomic particle that would supposedly explain the way the universe was created, and possibly answer the age old question on how intertwined religion and science really is.

At current, all the white coats know is that it should exist, and according to the coverage, we should have an answer by the end of 2012; just in time to witness our end, if the Mayans had their way!

So, what does all this mean to you, living in South Africa, on a continent that could have no comprehension of the relevance of these experiments? Frankly, it’s just damn interesting to follow!

However, it also creates doubt in any religious versus science debates, and in essence, any pro science advocate is brought back to the age old question of creation versus evolution, which, on a fundamental basis, can only be proven with experiments like these, although we know that without its existence, the consistency of matter would not be possible.

On a sidebar, I have to say that as a Christian, I firmly believe that both science and religion have a place in each other’s equations, so let’s just leave it at that shall we.

When the first collision of particles in the LHC was undertaken, some sceptics was afraid it would create a black hole that would develop and function autonomously, eventually swallowing the earth.

The scary part is that, in theory, this actually was a possibility.

The same can also be said about the first nuclear explosion test within the Manhattan Project, where some scientists believed that they could destroy the world.

Interestingly, on both occasions someone, somewhere, bumped them aside, and flipped the switch to what would either be our doom or glory.

In the case of nuclear technology, we now realise the dangers involved and are far more cautious than in 1944. The scary part is that we have no comprehension of the dangers involved in  finding the “God particle”, and does the distinct possibility exist, that we are opening Pandora’s box by going down this road.

Be that as it may, as humans, I suppose we’ll never learn or listen from past mistakes, we’ll only be more cautious... at best.

So, maybe we find what we’ve been looking for, or maybe we just find another need to look for a sub-subatomic particle, the bottom line is, we’ll never stop searching, and as long as science doesn’t have all the answers (which it never will), religion will continue to fill the gaps we so desperately need filled.

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