Thursday, July 3, 2008

Large Hadron Collider: And what if, $3 billion later, they don't find the God particle?

Well, it turns out, that actually doesn't matter so much. Read on:

"A 27-kilometer underground loop of magnets will soon go to work on the universe's deepest mysteries" announces a March 31 (2008) article in Newsweek by William Underhill: The $3 billion collider, housed in a tunnel on the French-Swiss border, is an attempt to reproduce the conditions just after the Big Bang (about 14 billion years ago). Specifically, the collider crew is looking for a particle that no one has ever found, a Higgs boson, sometimes called the God particle, which explains why other particles have the weights they do. As Cosmos Magazine explains,

It is believed to be the last missing piece to the puzzle of the so-called Standard Model – the 20 fundamental forces and particles that, in various permutations and combinations, account for everything around us – light, magnetism, gravity and all forms of matter.
And what if they don't ever find it? Well, according to Newsweek,

It's entirely possible that after all this money and effort the collider's detectors will find no trace of the Higgs boson. That would still make the project worthwhile, researchers say. It would indicate beyond the shadow of a doubt that the Standard Model, the basis of modern physics, requires a radical rethinking.
You can see why from what follows:

A central mystery is the supposed existence of invisible "dark matter," and its counterpart "dark energy," a strange force that seems to accelerate the expansion of the universe. Although together the dark pair make up for 96 percent of the universe, scientists know next to nothing about them—only their gravitational effects. Those grand collisions may produce undiscovered particles that account for both. The collider might also reveal yet another set of particles, the "superpartners," needed to bolster the case for String Theory, a "theory of everything" that proposes the existence of six extra dimensions and a universe constructed of tiny vibrating strings.
But string theory has recently been attacked as not even wrong. In other words, it is all highly controversial at present. ANd not a good time for Inquisitions.