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The God Particle: Unscientific Claims?

Prof Dr BM Hegde | 20/08/2012 08:13 AM | 

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

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Madhur Kotharay

Madhur Kotharay 1 year 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.

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Mitchell 1 year 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.

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