2012 was an unusual year for physics. It was, then wasn’t, and then again was, the year that the God particle, the Higgs boson, the particle responsible for mass in the quantum mechanical zoo of particles, was found.
Or was it?
The problem was, or rather is, that CERN’s large hadron collider found something, this much is true, and it moreover found something that looks like the Higgs. But the problem is, what it found isn’t behaving exactly like the model predicted:
As the article notes, the problem is that whatever it is that CERN found, it is decaying into two photons rather more often than it should, calling forth the usual response: contaminated equipment, faulty measurements, anything to save the theory itself:
“The original Higgs data from back in July had shown that the Higgs seemed to be decaying into two photons more often than it should—an enticing though faint hint of something new, some sort of physics beyond our understanding. In November, scientists at the Atlas and LHC experiments updated everything except the two-photon data. This week we learned why.
“Yesterday researchers at the Atlas experiment finally updated the two-photon results. What they seem to have found is bizarre—so bizarre, in fact, that physicists assume something must be wrong with it. Instead of one clean peak in the data, they have found two. There seems to be a Higgs boson with a mass of 123.5 GeV (gigaelectron volts, the measuring unit that particle physicists most often use for mass), and another Higgs boson at 126.6 GeV—a statistically significant difference of nearly 3 GeV.
“This is explained as “a statistical fluke” or the result of a mechanical error. The CERN Large Hadron Collider team has announced that it will iron out these problems before March, when it plans to announce its success in finding the elusive particle.”(Emphasis in the original)
This, as the article avers, is a rather profound problem, for whatever CERN found, it is sending mixed messages about its mass, which seems to vary depending on how it is measured.
The article then goes on to note that this could spell a problem for the standard model, indeed, it begins by noting Dr. Michio Kaku’s assessment of the importance of the Higgs:
“Famed physicist and science writer Michio Kaku said it best: if physics doesn’t discover the Higgs Boson Particle it would be a “disaster” for modern physics. The entire edifice of cosmology we’ve been taught to believe real – from the Big Bang to black holes, dark matter and dark energy, it all collapses.”
Now, readers of my books will know that I have some cautious problems with the standard model, and one of the problems I have with it is the same as that which the plasma cosmologists/electric universe advocates have, namely, the excessive mathematical formalism of much of modern theoretical physics. It is, as I’ve said elsewhere, metaphysics, with equations.
But I am far from jumping on the bandwagon of their model either, even though it does have some attractive elements. The reason why is rather simple, and it’s best we remind ourselves of what it is: the standard model has been eminently successful in its predictions and its utility.
And one of the most signal successes of that model has been the uncertainty principle itself, namely, the idea that one cannot predict the position and velocity of a particle at the same time, and thus, the experimenter or observer actually plays a significant role in the formation of measurable reality itself.
It may turn out that what CERN may really be seeing, therefore, are not so much statistical flukes, nor even a challenges to the standard model, but rather (and with a big “perhaps’) a new extension of the uncertainty principle itself with respect to mass(and that, of course, would have huge implications). If that be the case, then, yes, aspects of the standard model may have to be extended and other aspects profoundly modified… almost certainly. But it’s far too early to leap on an alternative bandwagon. Indeed… what may be needed is really a synthesis of the contending cosmologies…
And for that, folks, we’ll need another Newton, another Einstein, another Heisenberg, another Bell (and I don’t mean the Nazi one either!)
See you on the flip side.