The topic of Origins is one of my favourite fields of study, so I try to stay as informed as possible on various aspects of this vast subject. Recently The Large Hadron Collider built by CERN near Geneva, Switzerland has been much in the news, particularly in its stated aim to find The God Particle that apparently holds the keys to the mysteries of the Universe. I have been studying a great deal about the LHC and The God Particle or the Higgs boson as it is officially called to try and understand what it all means. I found an interesting article that was published back in 2008 in The National Geographic with glossy photos and all. I perused this article, and others rather carefully, and having done so I found that I was left with more questions than answers. Even some of the scientists working on the project do not really expect much in the way of answers, so all the media hype is just that, hype and nothing more. Although the journalist for NG, Joel Achenbach, titled his article, At the Heart of All Matter, it turns out that whatever is turned up at CERN may not really matter after all. Since Particle Physics and Quantum Physics is portrayed to hold all the answers like the Oracle of Delphi, or so we are told, I decided to take some quotes from the NG article to show readers that when we read between the lines the picture is not so clear, and when we carefully peruse quotes from Particle Physicists themselves, we discover that they have few if any answers to the mysteries of the Universe. That even after 150 or so years since the first Quantum Physics theories were formulated, they remain just that UNPROVEN THEORIES, not gospel truth as we are (mis)led to believe!
In the following article, quotes from the National Geographic article titled ‘At the Heart of All Matter: The hunt for the God particle’ are followed by my comments that are highlighted in yellow.
...a particle accelerator-an atomic peashooter more powerful than any ever built. It's called the Large Hadron Collider, and its purpose is simple but ambitious: to crack the code of the physical world; to figure out what the universe is made of...
... If all goes right, matter will be transformed by the violent collisions into wads of energy, which will in turn condense back into various intriguing types of particles, some of them never seen before.
... The particle beam could drill a hole in just about anything...
... physicists insist must be lurking in the deep substrate of reality.
..But even an endeavor of this scale isn't going to answer all the important questions of matter and energy. Not a chance. This is because a century of particle physics has given us a fundamental truth: Reality doesn't reveal its secrets easily. Put it this way: The universe is a tough nut to crack.
..Physics underwent one revolution after another. Einstein's special theory of relativity (1905) begat the general theory of relativity (1915), and suddenly even such reliable concepts as absolute space and absolute time had been discarded in favor of a mind-boggling space-time fabric in which two events can never be said to be simultaneous. Matter bends space; space directs how matter moves. Light is both a particle and a wave. Energy and mass are inter- changeable. Reality is probabilistic and not deterministic: Einstein didn't believe that God plays dice with the universe, but that became the scientific orthodoxy.
We know things today that Einstein, Rutherford, Max Planck, Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, and the rest of the great physicists of a century ago couldn't have imagined. But we're nowhere near a final theory of physical reality. ...are made of odd things called quarks and gluons—but already we're into a fuzzy zone. But we're nowhere near a final theory of physical reality.
... Their standard model, developed in the 1960s and 1970s, is widely viewed as unwieldy, like a contraption with too many loose ends and knobs and dangling bits. ... "We had a theory that started out really beautiful and elegant," says Joe Lykken, a theorist at Fermilab, "and then someone beat on it and made it really ugly."
The standard model can't explain several towering mysteries about the universe ...The big bang theory tells us that the known universe once had no dimensions at all...and laws of physics beyond our vision.
...The LHC experiments may help physicists understand our good fortune to be in a universe... ...
... the LHC could reveal the particles and forces that wrote the rules for everything that followed. It could help answer one of the most basic questions for any sentient being in our universe: What is this place?... There's one puzzle piece in particular that physicists hope to pick out of the debris from the LHC's high-energy collisions. Some call it the God particle...
... Building a contraption like the LHC to find the Higgs is a bit like embarking on a career as a stand-up comic with the hope that at some point in your career you'll happen to blurt out a joke that's not only side-splittingly funny but also a palindrome.
Some U.S. money has gone into the LHC, which will cost billions of dollars: five, maybe ten—the exact number is elusive ... Jürgen Schukraft, who supervises an LHC experiment named ALICE (which will re-create conditions the same as those just after the big bang), ...
The cynic might say that there's no practical use for any of this, that there might be other uses for all the money and brainpower going into these particle guns.
Many people at CERN are hoping they'll get more than just answers: They'd like to uncover some new mysteries.
John Ellis confided that he wouldn't even mind if the LHC failed to find a Higgs. "Many of us theorists would find that failure much more interesting than if we just find another boring old particle that some theorists predicted 45 years ago."
New puzzles seem a sure bet. ... One day I asked George Smoot, a Nobel laureate physicist, if he thinks our most basic questions will ever be answered. "It depends on how I'm feeling on any particular day," he said. "But every day I go to work I'm making a bet that the universe is simple, symmetric, and aesthetically pleasing—a universe that we humans, with our limited perspective, will someday understand."