Finding God… but to a deadline

Lead ion collision at the LHC - no idea what that means but it's pretty!
I really enjoyed yesterday’s story about the Large Hadron Collider. Apparently after investing ‘Mega-Enormous-Huge’ amounts of money trying to find the ‘God Particle’ (Higgs bosun) scientists have announced that if they if haven’t found it by the end of next year, it doesn’t exist!

To my untrained, unscientific ears this sounded very odd. What if the Wright brothers had declared that if they couldn’t fly a plane by 1904, it couldn’t be done? (They achieved this feat on Dec 17th 1903).

Then David (my beloved) came along and explained (he’s a physicist). Apparently they have done a lot of clever maths that says that if this particle is there to be found, it should be found within that time frame and therefore if they don’t find it, it most likely doesn’t exist.

As Martin, my vicar, later pointed out, the whole story is still a delightful case of  having your cake and eating it. If they find the particle they will be over-joyed.  If they don’t find it they will be even happier because then they get to dream up a whole new theory to account for not finding what they were looking for!  Setting aside the fact that millions of dollars have gone into this exercise in ‘not-finding’, it’s truly a win/win situation for theoretical physicists who clearly ‘always look on the bright side of life’ – I knew there was a good reason for marrying one!

For further musings of an amateur on scientific subjects you might enjoy:

‘The God Particle’

‘Petaflops, Qubits and God’

3 thoughts on “Finding God… but to a deadline

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  1. I thought the same thing yesterday when I heard the same story. I’m married to a scientist and thankfully she pities me enough to tollerate my “Arts” orintated mind and explain it in simple terms for me.

  2. What scientist don’t like you to know is that there is no such thing as a scientific fact; just theories that fit the current experimental data!

  3. This reminds me of the news over the past couple of months where they were saying (around Christmas) that we must be all alone in the universe because there just were not any other planets that could support life.
    Fast forward a few weeks and there was a news bulletin about observing all kinds of stars with solar systems a bit like ours – and we had never even suspected they were there before . . .

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