Why Some Physicists Bet Against the Higgs Boson
By ROBERT WRIGHT - THE ATLANTIC
Added: Wed, 18 Jul 2012 20:14:43 UTC
After Stephen Hawking conceded that he'd lost his bet about the Higgs boson, I wondered why he had been on the wrong side of the bet. Why had he doubted the existence of a particle widely assumed to be an essential constituent of physical reality?
Hawking wasn't available to answer that question, but I did manage to have a long conversation with an American physicist who had also doubted the existence of the Higgs--Lawrence Krauss, author of The Physics of Star Trek and A Universe From Nothing . Krauss explained the generic reason that a number of physicists had doubted the Higgs: Its posited existence was suspiciously convenient. When you understand what he meant, I think you may conclude that physical reality is cooler than you'd thought. Here, as I understand it, is the deal:
Decades ago, physicists had found a way to unify--that is, fit into a common theoretical framework--two of the four basic physical forces: the
electromagnetic force and the weak nuclear force. But there was one hitch: photons, the particles that mediate the electromagnetic force, have no mass,
whereas the particles that mediate the weak force--the W and Z bosons--seem to have mass. And this theoretical unification wouldn't make complete sense
unless the W and Z bosons were, like photons, massless.
So--here comes the suspiciously convenient part--physicists supposed that maybe the W and Z bosons didn't really have mass; rather, there was something--some feature of the universe--that made them behave as if they had mass. That "something" was dubbed the Higgs boson.
Lawrence M. Krauss - New York Times Comments
A Blip That Speaks of Our Place in the Universe
Lawrence M. Krauss - The Daily Beast Comments
How the Higgs Boson Posits a New Story of our Creation
Johnathan Brown - The Independent Comments
As an atheist with no desire to upset believers, Professor Peter Higgs has always hated the idea of a God particle. He has never been keen on the nomenclature of the Higgs boson either – referring to it as "the particle named after me" on the rare occasions he gives an interview.
Chris Wickham - Reuters 0 Comments
(Reuters) - Scientists at Europe's CERN research centre have found a new subatomic particle, a basic building block of the universe, which appears to be the boson imagined and named half a century ago by theoretical physicist Peter Higgs.