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The Discovery Of Higgs Boson – A Perspective
|by Dr. Varanasi Ramabrahmam|
Scientific community throughout the world has celebrated the discovery of Higgs Boson. A British scientist Higgs has theoretically predicted the existence of a Boson (any fundamental particle whose energy distributions are governed by Bose-Einstein statistics); which gives mass to the rest of the fundamental particles, both bosons and fermions; [fermions are fundamental particles whose probable energy distributions are governed by Fermi-Dirac statistics. Electrons, protons, neutrons, mesons, positrons, neutrino etc., are fundamental particles. Their movements are governed by quantum mechanics and not classical or Newtonian mechanics].
This research is part of understanding the state of the universe at the start of Big-Bang.
In scientific tradition a phenomenon is first theoretically predicted based on certain concepts and mathematical calculations and the theoretical finding is later experimentally proved, not necessarily by the scientist who theoretically predicted and mostly experimentally verified by other scientists; or first the phenomenon is experimentally observed and then a theoretical explanation is provided by again mostly other scientists. This is a very useful and significant cooperation between theoretical and experimental scientists in the evolution of scientific research.
They conducted this experiment though there is a danger of great explosion (big-bang?). The scientific spirit to unravel truth has dominated than mere existence of humans and the experiment is carried out. The experimental facility and work: There is a Large Hadron Collider facility spread over 27 KM underground to conduct this experiment.
They have successfully conducted the first part by making high energy protons travel in opposite directions. They are looking for the generation of Higgs boson, the building block of matter. The next experiment was to make them collide.
Earlier the facility was down for four years because of development of a snag. And it repaired. And now, in the proverbial way as digging mountain to catch the rat; this gigantic and most expensive experiment did not in any way end in knowing about the boson/hadron or God’s particle; but just saying even not with certainty that neutrino is capable of moving faster than light. They could not know anything about big-bang theory or origin of the universe.
A few months back the scientists declared that neutrino (a charge-less nuclear energy fundamental particle which gets emitted during beta-decay) travels faster than light dismissing hitherto “belief” or “confirmed opinion” that nothing can travel faster than light. Now a few days back they announced the existence of Higgs Boson/Hadron or God’s particle with 99.9999.., certainty. Earlier Higgs named this theoretically predicted fundamental particle as “God’s Particle” for its inevitable and fundamental presence in matter - fundamental particles - and cause of “substantiation” – i.e., providing mass to rest of these fundamental particles. Later, experiments were started to experimentally verify and hence prove the existence of this Higgs Boson or God’s Particle.
This article is not to say anything about the existence of Higgs Boson or its experimental verification but its significance to not merely to scientists but to rest of the common people. Even though I am a student and teacher of physics, and myself am engaged in scientific research, somehow I was not much enthused with these attempts of the scientists who currently tried to create conditions of situation just before Big Bang at CERN at the borders of Switzerland and France near Geneva. And of course succeeded in verifying the presence of Higgs Boson even though with 99.99999.., certainty a few days back and announced with great fanfare at Geneva.
I now present my perspective on this discovery through a story. The following narration is a small story which I have read as a prescribed lesson in my II or III class. I am very much fascinated by the wisdom it contains and always cherish its recollection. That story I will present below together with its relevance to modern times as I feel and understand.
The story is as follows:
Somehow I feel is it necessary that we should conduct this sort of experiments? Not that I am afraid that the conduct of the experiment leads to a catastrophe. But no one really knows what happens after the conduct of the experiment. They are only enamored that they understand the conditions before Big Bang clearly.
The origin of the universe is zillions and zillions of years old. And that could not be known even remotely with this experiment. And the study of theories of modern cosmology sound as mythical as our mythological stories. No one clearly knows what is what.
We respect modern physicists and cosmologists who proposed those theories and they are more confusing than clear. Indian logicians (Nyaaya school of thought and rest of the schools adopted this classification) proposed three pramanas (means) to validate cognition and hence knowledge. The means are:
pratyakshya – Direct Cognition through sense organs – eyes sense light energy and hence forms and sights; ears sense sound energy whose frequency lies between 20 and 20,000 Hz- and sounds and words; tongue and nose sense chemical energy and hence tastes and smells; skin senses mechanical and heat energies and hence touches, cold and heat – temperatures;
anumaana –Inference – Almost all knowledge, - scientific, social or related to any discipline – is inferred from data or / and experiments. Sense organs do not play any role here. Only the faculties of the mind – as analysis, discreteness, discrimination, logic, reason, and the like- propose and determine the validity of knowledge acquired by means of sense organs or otherwise.
Sabda – aagama – Authority: The findings of earlier scientists, (experiences and utterances of sages, seers) record of their work in the form of books or any medium are taken for granted both by academicians and lay persons. They are propagated and followed without questioning.
The atheists who insist on direct means to prove truth do not know that our sense organs cannot sense all forms of energy and we have to use instruments to prove the truth – J.J. Thompson’s experiment to prove the existence of electron and infer, because eyes cannot see electron – and take the help of inference. And ultrasonic - sound cannot be heard by ears.
All electromagnetic radiation except light and heart cannot be sensed by any sense organ we have to use inference to accept the validity of knowledge. And all of us are not capable of having the same intellect, intuition, experience of scientists, and the facilities, money and other help to ourselves prove the existence or validity of various phenomenon or facts. So we “blindly” believe what scientists, who are the authority in these matters tell us. We meekly accept it as valid knowledge. We never try to or can prove all scientific or otherwise facts. Similarly we have to accept the existence of God’s Particle or Higgs Boson/Hadron or whatever it is.
But how far it settles the formation of matter at big-bang times and how far we become more knowledgeable and wise and how far it is “useful” in daily life are all big questions. Scientists thought something, say they proved the same thing and discovered and formulated how matter – fundamental particles–are “massed”. It satisfies the intellectual curiosity of the scientists and some of them will be awarded Nobel prize, but not much or anything changes for the ordinary persons.
This experiment cost international exchequer billions of dollors, years of time and energy, collaboration of hundreds of scientists among various prestigious institutions of the world. It takes so much money, time and efforts to again conduct this experiment to those scientists even.
We ordinary people can never repeat this experiment in view of this enormity. Probing the universe through space-ships, trying to know the origin of the universe, origin of life forms here or elsewhere are very costly enterprises which this “poor” planet cannot afford. We already have the problems of pollution, global warming because of our indiscriminate use of resources and carbon emissions, terrorism – state and non-state sponsored and the like and are not able to do anything substantial.
Now how far this discovery of “substantiation” of fundamental particles at the beginning of the universe helps us just not merely addition to knowledge is a valid inquiry. The knowledge thus we enhance should not merely rest in the research articles and text-books satisfying the intellectual curiosity of certain knowledge-loving intellectuals.
Though I may sound unscientific in spirit because of authoring this write-up I strongly feel that we also have to address our rest of the problems with the same earnestness and make our planet more livable and hospitable to future generations.
Should we know everything about everything?
I know that this is not in the spirit of science or furthering of knowledge. Cannot we curb our thirst for knowledge? I do not know. But I feel:
Think it Over
Ages back the planet was barren
One morning dispersed life like sunshine
Species have evolved, flourished, perished
And a peculiar animal has appeared.
Started living and thinking together
Wondered at first About ‘itself’
And life around
“No it’s evolution?!?” many later has thundered
Has grown and shown
Certain values unknown
Devised numbers, created letters
Became “man of letters “
Evolved into a poet, a singer
An architect and a philosopher
But now Computer substitutes ‘its’ thinking
Neutron bomb threatens ‘its‘ living
Here explodes a bomb; there arises a fanatic
Here changes a ruler; there breaks out a war
Whatever might be the event,
Senseless genocide of innocent people is imminent
Many feel ‘man ‘ has become a machine
No longer cherishes, relishes or nourishes
Values that are humane
And ‘behaves’ as ‘it’ wishes
But I feel
Unless we are humane again
Our existence is at stake
Though we are able to
Fly like birds
Swim like fish
Set our feet on moon
Roam in the space
Or have babies avoiding sex
Beauty and Truth
I admire Beauty and Truth
In veiled state;
Though More revealing,
Let us also be wise, humanistic, aesthetic,
Spiritual and not merely scientific and intellectual.
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