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Monday, July 02, 2012

Mailvox: by George, they've got it!

Nick comments: "It is expected that scientists will announce Wednesday that they have wholly relied on circumstantial evidence to "prove", via inferences, beyond all resonable doubt (or, if you prefer, 5-sigma certainty) the existence of the "God Particle"."

It will certainly be amusing if it turns out that the scientific media is reading the tea leaves wrong and CERN is summoning famous particle physicists to Switzerland in order to announce the failure of the Standard Model. But that won't be half so hilarious as if their announcement of the proof of Higgs boson is eventuall followed by a reluctant admission that it doesn't actually exist in spite of all their sigmas.

It seems scientists don't pay much attention to finance, as it is remarkable how often the mathematically impossible black swan shows up to crash the party.

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25 Comments:

Blogger IM2L844 July 02, 2012 10:52 AM  

I suspect that the more scholarly of scientism's adherents will insist that indirect empirical evidence is somehow superior, in that it is just more sciency, to circumstantial evidence used by Christians to arrive at a 5-Sigma certainty for the existence of an actual God.

Anonymous Roundtine July 02, 2012 11:11 AM  

From the Drudge-linked story:

But after decades of work and billions of dollars spent, researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, aren't quite ready to say they've "discovered" the particle.

Instead, experts familiar with the research at CERN's vast complex on the Swiss-French border say that the massive data they have obtained will essentially show the footprint of the key particle known as the Higgs boson - all but proving it exists - but doesn't allow them to say it has actually been glimpsed.


Sounds like the physicists are still hedging, but likely the media, academia and governments that shoveled money into the project want a win.

Anonymous Stilicho July 02, 2012 11:29 AM  

Why do they call it the "God particle" in the first place? Do they really believe that its existence would prove that God does not exist?

Blogger Nate July 02, 2012 11:31 AM  

OT

Speaking of Black Swans...

It appears AirBus has just announced they are building a new factory in Mobile, AL that will turn out 4 jets a month.

Blogger Astrosmith July 02, 2012 11:41 AM  

Well, whatever they have or haven't discovered, all these guys are doing is figuring out how God created everything, whether they want to admit it or not.

For those interested, here's something that explains the whole Higgs boson theory: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120501.html

After watching that, the reason for them not to come out with a definitive statement is that there may still be debate as to whether they have enough data to produce that expected "bump" in the curve.

Blogger IM2L844 July 02, 2012 11:51 AM  

Why do they call it the "God particle" in the first place? Do they really believe that its existence would prove that God does not exist?

I think it's because it is posited as the thing that gives matter mass and makes substances substantial.

Anonymous 691 July 02, 2012 11:58 AM  

Why do they call it the "God particle" in the first place?

Because theoretical physics has recently devolved into what should properly be called "natural philosophy"

Anonymous Roundtine July 02, 2012 12:05 PM  

The wiki on Higgs boson:
Lederman said he gave it the nickname "The God Particle" because the particle is "so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive,"[63][64][66] but jokingly added that 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."

Anonymous JartStar July 02, 2012 12:10 PM  

Speaking of Black Swans...

It appears AirBus has just announced they are building a new factory in Mobile, AL that will turn out 4 jets a month.


Yep. The new manufacturing revolution in the US is taking place in the South and Midwest.

Anonymous Stickwick July 02, 2012 12:26 PM  

Why do they call it the "God particle" in the first place? Do they really believe that its existence would prove that God does not exist?

Physicists don't call it the God particle. Nobel laureate physicist Leon Lederman wrote a popular-level book about the Higgs boson and used that phrase in the title, after which the popular media latched on to it. Lederman explains the origin of the name here:

This boson is so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our final understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive, that I have given it a nickname: the God Particle. Why God Particle? Two reasons. One, 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. And two, there is a connection, of sorts, to another book, a much older one ...

And he goes on to make an analogy to the story of the Tower of Babel, which briefly goes like this. At one time, there was only one language for man; likewise, physicists believe that at one time nature spoke only one language. Particle physicists are hoping that, unlike the Babylonians, they can continue to build the tower and understand the mind of God by understanding how matter came to be.

I doubt Lederman intended any parallels in terms of pride and destruction, but rather just wanted to convey that physicists believe -- despite how confounded we are about nature at this time -- that there is a single understandable theory governing everything, and if we try hard enough, we can rediscover it.

Anonymous Mr. Nightstick July 02, 2012 12:27 PM  

How many jobs and how many robots?

Blogger IM2L844 July 02, 2012 12:52 PM  

Right, Stickwick. Although it could be misconstrued as such by some hypersensitive Christians, I don't think Lederman intended to be particularly disparaging. I have a copy of The God Particle around here somewhere, but it's been so long since I've read it, I can't remember exactly what he said and the book isn't where I thought it should be...

...found it! in it Lederman wrote:

"The issue is whether physicists will be confounded by this puzzle or whether, in contrast to the unhappy Babylonians, we will continue to build the tower and, as Einstein put it, "know the mind of God."

And the whole universe was of many languages, and of many speeches.
And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Waxahachie, and they dwelt there. And they said to one another, Go to, let us build a Giant Collider, whose collisions may reach back to the beginning of time. And they had superconducting magnets for bending, and protons had they for smashing.

And the Lord came down to see the accelerator, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold the people are un-confounding my confounding. And the Lord sighed and said. Go to, let us go down, and there give them the God Particle so that they may see how beautiful is the universe I have made. — The Very New Testament, 11:1

Anonymous 691 July 02, 2012 1:00 PM  

It seems scientists don't pay much attention to finance, as it is remarkable how often the mathematically impossible black swan shows up to crash the party.

Granted, I don't have personal knowledge of this, but I assume that 5 sigmas has been the threshold for discovery in particle physics for a long time and it doesn't seem to have undermined them yet. There are several good discussions of 5-sigma threshold here, here and here, but I can't find a reference older than a year, i.e. before everyone is caught up in the potential discovery of the Higgs.

The hysteria seems to be coming from the midwit science journalists and the status-seeking physicists who want to win a Nobel prize for themselves by being the first to claim discovery of the Higgs, before properly analyzing their data.

Anonymous Astro July 02, 2012 1:07 PM  

Let's try this again; my google accounts are messed up and not letting me access my blog or post comments, but hopefully it's fixed now:

For those interested, here is a link to a video explaining what the physicists are hoping to find about the Higgs boson:
http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120501.html

Basically, they are trying to collect enough to data to show that there is or is not a 'bump' in the plot that they expect to be there if the higgs particle exists. They probably think they see it, but they can't say for sure because they don't have enough data yet, but they are collecting more data all the time.

Anonymous Angel July 02, 2012 1:37 PM  

Why do these people keep getting funding?

Blogger Professor Hale July 02, 2012 1:47 PM  

Obviously, they didn't find the Higgs Boson because we are all still here.

Anonymous Stilicho July 02, 2012 1:47 PM  

Re: God particle,thanks. That'll teach me to watch the Discovery Channel.

Anonymous Angel July 02, 2012 1:50 PM  

Here is a great example about what I think about this...

I had just given birth to one child and my other children were on the way to see us. A Doctor making rounds came in to tell me I would most likely not be able to nurse, that most women could not. I then nursed my newborn right in front of her. She then said (as my family was coming in) that I should put in an order for formula because I would most likely not make enough milk to nurse my newborn for very long.

My toddler climbed up the bed and asked to nurse as well. I popped the other one out and began nursing her too. The Doctor became alarmed and said I shouldn't do that that it was impossible to nurse two children at once. I pointed to my other children and explained calmly, like I do to toddlers, that it is possible and I did it with all of them.

She then nearly yelled at me that it was not possible because nursing while pregnant will kill the unborn baby. I calmly told her to look at the proof all around her because I nursed every blessed time I was pregnant. Therefore my body had been nourishing myself, an unborn baby, a baby and a toddler.

She began hyperventilating and called in two nurses and another Doctor to watch me and told them several times what I had said.

I smiled warmly at her and said "What year in med school are you?". She turned red and said she was the HEAD OF OB/GYN!!!!!!!

It seems there is a great deal of people making careers out of fumbling around in the dark, occasionally grabbing each other and exclaiming they have made an amazing discovery and screaming "NO!" to anyone who calmly tells them to simply turn the lights on.

No offense meant to the members of the ILK in the scientific community, you are the only reason I hold out hope.

Anonymous Noah B. July 02, 2012 1:50 PM  

As far as I can tell, whether or not the Higgs boson exists and whether or not it is found is not going to have much immediate impact. Despite the hype, it would still leave a huge number of questions in basic particle physics unanswered. We wouldn't be a lot closer to building a warp engine or a light saber.

Anonymous Noah B. July 02, 2012 1:51 PM  

FWIW, I'm still waiting for all the new technology to come from discovering the Top Quark.

Blogger wrf3 July 02, 2012 2:00 PM  

Vox, why do you think HIggs won't be found?

All, The now-retired Tevatron managed to find support for Higgs.

Too, finding the Higgs at 125GeV will actually put a strain on the Standard Model. In the comments to the above link, Lubos wrote, "...125 GeV isn't consistent with the Standard Model valid up to the Planck scale because the Higgs potential becomes unstable at an energy below the Planck scale. If the Higgs were 125 GeV and the Standard Model were right, it would mean that the Higgs behaves like some kind of "tachyon" if you study its properties at very short distances, an inconsistency."

Anonymous patrick kelly July 02, 2012 2:13 PM  

Angel,

Please tell me you have a blog with that story posted on it and provide a link. If not, I'll share it and attribute it to "an internet angel".

Blogger DarkMatterDude July 02, 2012 5:31 PM  

I wish they'd hurry up and declare victory. I want to invest all I'm worth into Dark Matter. Maybe they're making it at the new Airbus facility?

Anonymous Angel July 03, 2012 10:37 AM  

@ Patrick Kelly

No blog right now, but soon I hope. Feel free to post. Sorry it took so long for me to answer, I was taken ill.

Thanks!

Anonymous Anonymous July 06, 2012 4:45 AM  

Hoping for scientists to be wrong, presumably just because you see them on the other side of the culture wars?

Isn't it great to be anti-science?

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