Citizens' Issues
The God Particle: Unscientific Claims?

The CERN scientists tried to pull a long one on the gullible public by declaring that the God particle that they claim to have found would tell us about the origin of this world! This is an unscientific claim, to say the least
 
“The God Particle” because the particle is “so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our final understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive,” a second reason was because “the publisher wouldn’t let us call it the Goddamn Particle, though that might be a more appropriate title, given its villainous nature and the expense it is causing”—Lederman

There is so much excitement at CERN centre about their having got the Higg’s Boson in their experiment. Obviously they have to succeed as they have sunk billions of dollars in their experiments to find the basic building blocks of our universe. Hurray! They tell us that they are 99.999% sure! Why not 100%, though is a million dollar question? The obliging media has gone to town already saying that the particle, which was originally called the Goddamn particle as the originator of this concept was an atheist. Peter Ware Higgs was a theoretical physicist and professor of physics at Edinburgh University. He was the one who gave the electroweak theory of mass for particles, in the 1960s especially of the W-Z Bosons, the most sought after particle in particle physics. American Nobel Laureate physicist, Leon Lederman coined the word “God particle” as his publisher did not like Goddamn particle of his choice.

Human consciousness talks about a collective expectation effect on some of these experiments where hundreds of minds intensely want to achieve the goal. Intention positivity is a known entity. The researchers have not seen the particle at all as the particles cannot be seen. They are talking about statistical circumstantial evidence of the God particle in CERN’s Large Hadron Collider where trillions of particles are colliding with one another. They are talking about raising the statistical possibility to five Sigma level of probability. That is not the same as seeing the particle. Carl Sagan wrote that “at the heart of science is an essential balance between two seemingly contradictory attitudes—openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre and counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless sceptical scrutiny of all ideas, old and new. This is how deep truths are winnowed from nonsense.”

The next stumbling block would be to prove that the particle that they claim to have seen IS the God particle that they have promised to us. The collision of those particles have released enormous amount of energy in the CERN collider. If the particle releases energy then this particle cannot be the God particle, the building block of the universe. The God particle cannot lose energy. It has to stabilize the world. If, as they have shown in their experiment, their particle, which they claim is the God particle, has released so much energy it could not be the building block of our universe. In that case our world would have been destroyed millions of years ago. The universe has survived eight billion years so far. Therefore any particle to qualify to be the building block should be indestructible. Does the particle they claim to have found in the CERN reactor remain the same in mass and structure after releasing so much of energy? This does not seem likely. The CERN experiment has shown release of that kind of energy.

Now that we know that energy is just the vibrations of matter; the two are inseparable. In addition, all the energy that science knows today is just about 5% of matter. The large 95% is unknown to us. In this scenario any particle like the one they think as the fundamental building block could not be confirmed. All that we know of stars, galaxies and planets constitute just about 5% of matter. Where is the other matter?

The CERN scientists also tried to pull a long one on the gullible public by declaring that the God particle that they claim to have found would tell us about the origin of this world! This is an unscientific claim, to say the least. Clearly the road to find the fundamental building block of this universe is not going to be easy, if not impossible. The CERN route definitely is not the correct one as of now. Hawking’s predictions seem to be coming true that the God particle would never be found. One could always take shelter under the fact that Hawking as a cosmologist is only dealing with large things like the universe, while the particle physicists deal with subatomic particles that are so small that one of them can never comfortably talk about the other.

The right route would, perhaps be, to define energy as motion of particles. The two are inseparable. In that case the fundamental blocks, called the superstrings, with its nested generalised fractal structure, should be indestructible. Otherwise, our universe would perish sooner than later. All these and more could be incorporated into the Grand Unified Theory. However, not finding the God particle might be sad for Peter Higgs, as without that theoretical particle there will be no weight for mass. Particles would then be flying around at the speed of light. In fact, years ago when Stephen Hawking predicted that the God particle will never be found, Higgs was very much upset and he is said to have written an article criticizing Hawking in The Scotsman. Normally Higgs was always polite and gentlemanly but he seems to have been so much upset that he directly attacked Hawking in his article.

In this whole drama the thing we Indians could enjoy most is the rejuvenation of the word BOSON, named after Satyendranath Bose FRS, Padma Vibhushana, who was given the credit by a good friend and a contemporary physicist, Paul Dirac. Bose was a mathematical physicist who helped to develop the Bose-Einstein Statistics and the Bose-Einstein Condensate. Paul Dirac, a British physicist, named the particles which obeyed the Bose-Einstein statistics as Bosons. Those days Quantum kitchen helped the particle physicists to pull out hundreds of particles which remind one of the way a magician pulls out rabbits from his hat. That era has passed. The particle-wave confusion could be put to rest now for good. Has the much awaited God particle also succumbed to the famous Uncertainty Principle of Werner Heisenberg? Time only will tell us the truth. Any truth that science claims to find can only be A truth and never THE truth. Is God playing dice with the world?
 
“Science becomes dangerous only when it imagines that it has reached its goal”—George Bernard Shaw

(Professor Dr BM Hegde, a Padma Bhushan awardee in 2010, is an MD, PhD, FRCP (London, Edinburgh, Glasgow & Dublin), FACC and FAMS. He is also the editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Science of Healing Outcomes, chairman of the State Health Society's Expert Committee, Govt of Bihar, Patna. He is former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University at Mangalore and former professor for Cardiology of the Middlesex Hospital Medical School, University of London. Prof Dr Hegde can be contacted at [email protected].)

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COMMENTS

Madhur Kotharay

4 years ago

It is amazing that a person as learned and distinguished as Prof Hegde writes such an omnibus article about a subject far away from his own medical field.

Since you cannot 'see' a particle, you look for its 'signature', just as we cannot see air but see its 'signature' in wind. Since a similar signature could be seen with another type of particle collision, you can not be 100% sure of your results. With small number of collisions studied at CERN so far, the statistical significance is low. Dr Hegde should know that: Whether clopidogrel is better than aspirin in preventing blood clots cannot be proven 100%, it can only be proven to 3-sigmas (3 in 1000 chance of being wrong) or more. So why blast CERN for the lack of 5-sigma confirmation?

Prof Hegde says, "if a particle decays, it cannot be a building block of universe". Higgs Boson is the lowest excitation of Higgs Field, which confers gravity to the universe. Higgs Field doesn’t decay and helps the universe get a big building block: gravity. Yes, the use of the word 'exists' has been incorrect; it should have been ‘ever existed’. If Higgs Boson never 'existed', the universe would not exist as we know it today.

One could go to Wikipedia, type "Higgs Boson" and read the article to get the answers to all these queries that Prof Hegde poses. It would have been nice if the learned professor had restricted his article on extravagance and hype of the discovery; commenting on CERN's scientific methodology is too bold a claim.

Mitchell

4 years ago

Well, this is a curious essay. At least the author takes an interest in reality. And the name "God particle" is definitely dumb. Though perhaps "Higgs boson" is too humble.

It's actually the Higgs *field* which is more important. Nuclear decay is caused by three particles, W+, W-, and Z, and without the Higgs field they would be just like photons, but the Higgs field gives them mass. The Higgs boson that we see is actually the left-over part of the Higgs field! So it's even less important than you might think.

One thing that is different about the Higgs field is that it has a nonzero energy density throughout all space. The other fields aren't like that; when they are at rest, they have no energy, but the Higgs field has energy when it is at rest. It is an unusual property.

The other significant feature of the discovery is that they found the mass of the Higgs boson. This is an important clue to the deeper details of everything in particle physics.

So I agree that the hype is excessive, but the Higgs boson is still part of a larger pattern, and it's the larger pattern which is profound.

Economy & Nation Exclusive
Let’s have a Coal Mela

Even those who were allocated blocks of coal could not extract it. What we need a strong move to get coal out of the mines
                                 
No one has a clear cut response to the Comptroller & Auditor General of India’s (CAG) googly on the coal block allocations, ultra mega power projects (UMPP) and the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport implementation.
     
Frankly, we do not know when the CAG began its study on the above and how long it took to make these observations before sending down this googly.
     
Prima facie, however, the purported loss of Rs1.86 lakh crore to the exchequer or the ‘gain’ by private companies, simply put, is really ‘notional’. In as much as only one mine is operative and 56 others are in the unending queue to get various clearances from the states concerned and the ministry of environment & forests (MoEF). In fact, 25 of these blocks have been de-allocated, which can now be offered to others. But, then, assuming standard bidding procedures are adopted, the successful bidders for these 25 blocks will only join the queue to obtain clearances!
     
It’s a pity that not even the media has been able to identify the incredible single performer under difficult circumstances. They need to be identified, congratulated and a close watch kept on their progress. If anything, the coal ministry must extend all possible support for that company to perform well and to exceed the targets of production envisaged by them.

The crucial question is whether we need power and what exactly are the stumbling blocks that hinder the progress?  Even if there were the original 57 out-of-turn allottees, no business house would sit on ‘wealth’ without extracting the coal for years on end, as it happened in this case. Clearance of one kind or another stopped them from making any step to start the mining operations.
     
Instead of harping on the issue of reiterating the stand that the allottees were (and are) stuck in the quagmire of clearance delays and simply apportioning the blames on one another, and, as time is the essence of contract, let the coal ministry call for a joint meeting of the MOEF, the relevant states involved along with the allottees for tripartite discussions to resolve the issues. The ministries concerned, including the PMO, must identify the major items of compliance needed, for work to commence. If the allottee is able to satisfy 85% (or the unanimously agreed quantum) of the requirements, permission should be given on the spot, in we would call a “Coal Mela”.
     
We recommend strongly the call for a “Coal Mela”, spread over a week to 10 working days. All the sides involved be asked to present full details. The methodology may be announced by the government independently off the coal ministry or MOEF and the 31 allottees, who have apparently made snail’s progress so far be asked to present the case to an independent authority, who will conduct this Coal Mela. The decision made in this meeting should be final and binding.
     
Those allottees, who obtain the “green signal” in this Coal Mela must be given a time-frame within which work must start and production to commence. No excuse leading to encashment of guarantees should be given by the concerned allottee.
     
Also, in the meantime, Coal India need not necessarily depend upon MMTC alone to do their imports of coal. It must encourage others to do the resourcing so that production does not suffer.
     
In carrying out his enormous duties under difficult circumstances, we do hope that Narasing Rao, Coal India’s chairman and managing director has no other internal issues or external pressures that prevent him from carrying out the tasks in front of him?

(AK Ramdas has worked with the Engineering Export Promotion Council of the ministry of commerce and was associated with various committees of the Council. His international career took him to places like Beirut, Kuwait and Dubai at a time when these were small trading outposts; and later to the US. He can be contacted at [email protected].)

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Betting against China

Capitalist investors from developed countries who decry government regulators maintain an unshaken and devout faith in the power of Chinese state intervention to stimulate growth. I believe they would have more luck at the gaming tables in Macau

I gave one of my best pieces of investment advice over five years ago. In a letter to the Financial Times published on 6 October 2006, I wrote “the best investment in China will be the casinos of Macau, not state-owned banks.” The letter was certainly prescient. Revenue from Macau casinos has risen 700% since then. Shares in the largest state-owned bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China have risen only 30%. Sadly the best way for investors to profit from those casinos came in the fall of 2009 after the IPOs of Wynn Macau and Sands China.
     
These stocks came out at a fortuitous time. China was beginning a massive stimulus package. With such a flash flood of money, it was no surprise that a lot of it leaked out on to the gambling tables of Macau. These leaks were reflected in the casinos’ profits and share prices.  Wynn rose 170% by 2011. The Sands did even better. Its shares increased 200% by May of 2012.
     
As I pointed out in my piece published last January, much of this money was flight capital. During the stimulus induced boom years from 2009 to the beginning of this year many wealthy Chinese used Macau to move their profits out of the country. In 2011 mainlanders set a new record for visits to Macau. The total number of Chinese visitors rose 22% to 16.1 million making up almost 60% of visitors. Once in Macau there are many different ways to launder money, according to one local professor, “more than we can think of”. But things are changing.
     
There are many indicators used for the Chinese economy. The problem is that the official numbers can be a bit dodgy. Even the heir apparent to become the next premier of China, Li Keqiang, has stated that China’s broad measures of economic growth are “ ‘man-made’ and therefore unreliable.” Li and many other economists like to rely on other indicators like electricity consumption, volume of rail cargo and the disbursement of bank loans.
     
The problem with these indicators in an economy that is heavily controlled by the state is that they can be manipulated. The numbers are created by state-controlled institutions. In a country where information is tightly controlled, the published numbers can be easily changed to suit appearances.
     
Macau is different. The revenue numbers are available from publically listed companies often controlled by American firms. They are all but beyond the reach of the Chinese authorities and they show something very interesting. Basically gaming revenue growth has been declining for the past two years. Revenue growth hit a high of over 80% in early 2010. Since then it has been falling. In July, 2012 it rose only 1.7% down from 7% as recently as May. Visitor growth has also been declining and this year it actually started falling. The casinos share prices have been falling as well. Sands China is down 30% since April. MGM is down 20% since May.
     
Most economists and analysts are not worried about this dramatic slowdown. In a world hooked on government stimulus, they believe this is good news, because it will lead to government action. The irony is that the government has been acting. The central bank lowered interest rates and made the third reserve cut in six months. The Chinese government’s lending goal of 8 to 8.5 trillion yuan for 2012 is about the same as the amount of new loans in 2010 and 2011, but the banks are missing their targets because of weak demand.
     
Although the economy of China and Macau are declining, there is still a boom in wealthy Chinese leaving the country along with large amounts of their money. China has over one million citizens with assets over 10 million yuan ($1.6 million). Like Brazil, Venezuela, Argentina, Russia, Spain and Greece, they are exporting themselves and their money. Over 16% have immigrated, 44% plan to do so and 85% have sent their children abroad for education. Unlike many western commentators, they are very gloomy on China’s prospect. Only 28% believe in China’s prospects over the next two years half the number of last year.
     
In fact so much money is now leaving China that the country reported a deficit in its balance of payments in the second quarter for the first time in 14 years. This occurred despite the fact that the current account is still in surplus, because China’s exports exceed its imports. Foreign direct investment (FDI) also remained strong, but not strong enough to balance the $110 billion that left.
     
There is a certain irony here. The capitalist investors from developed countries, who decry government regulators, maintain an unshaken and devout faith in the power of state intervention to stimulate growth. Personally I believe they would have more luck at the gaming tables in Macau.

(William Gamble is president of Emerging Market Strategies. An international lawyer and economist, he developed his theories beginning with his first hand experience and business dealings in the Russia starting in 1993. Mr Gamble holds two graduate law degrees. He was educated at Institute D'Etudes Politique, Trinity College, University of Miami School of Law, and University of Virginia Darden Graduate School of Business Administration. He was a member of the bar in three states, over four different federal courts and has spoken four languages. Mr Gamble can be contacted at [email protected] or [email protected].)

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