Don’t call it the God particle, says atheist who created it
Meanwhile, if accepted, then expansion of the LHC is needless risk of human annihilationAccording to the Daily Telegraph, Professor Higgs is an atheist and wants us to stop calling the Higgs boson the ‘God particle’, the catchy invention of OMNI editor and writer Dick Teresi in his book with Leon Lederman.
The scientist behind the Higgs boson, Prof Peter Higgs, has urged people to stop calling it the God particle because he’s an atheist.
By Agencies10:00AM BST 08 Apr 2013
The 83-year-old scientist, who lives in Edinburgh, insisted the reference was not funny and was actually misleading.
He came up with the theory of a subatomic particle, since dubbed the Higgs boson, which would explain the mystery of how things have mass.
But the professor wants people to stop referring to it as the “God particle” because he does not believe the particle holding the physical fabric of the universe together is the work of one almighty creator.
According to Prof Higgs, the nickname actually started as a joke, adding that it was “not a very good one”.
The phrase was created for a popular science book from 1993 by Leon Lederman, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, and Dick Teresi, a science writer.
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Lederman wrote in the book “God particle”: “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? 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.”
But Prof Higgs, explained his distaste for the term in a BBC Scotland interview. He said: “First of all, I’m an atheist.
“The second thing is I know that name was a kind of joke and not a very good one. I think he shouldn’t have done that as it’s so misleading.”
Prof Higgs has become a global celebrity over the past year since the discovery of an elementary particle consistent with the Higgs boson, which he predicted in 1964. Last year he was recognised in the New Year Honours.
In the 1960s, Prof Higgs and other physicists proposed a mechanism to explain why the most basic building blocks of the Universe have mass.
The mechanism predicts the existence of a Higgs particle, the discovery of which was claimed last year at the Large Hadron Collider.
According to one popular version of the story, Prof Higgs came up with the concept during a walk in the Cairngorms.
The important point now being resolutely overlooked by the media is that it is still a matter of opinion whether the LHC has produced sufficient evidence to establish that the Higgsboson exists for sure. The Times’s most recent piece on the topic suggested that it had but revealed that it was still a matter of uncertainty.
Meanwhile there are those who say that if in fact it has established that the Higgs is real, then there is no need to double to power of the LHC and run it in a new program which will be just as unproven in terms of safety as before.
These critics pointed out earlier inconsistencies in the LHC published safety rationale which amounted to admissions that there was no reason to suppose that the creation of micro black holes and strangelets would be safe The expansion of collisions to higher and higher levels of force was a trip into the unknown where the likelibood of mammoth disaster and the swallowing up of the Earth and all life known to us was not calculable, and remained a possibility according to current theory.
Cern engineers have begun a refurbishment of the Large Hadron Collider in an upgrade that will double its power and could allow scientists to shed light on mysterious “dark matter”.
The £70m revamp of the particle accelerator, which last year helped scientists discover the Higgs Boson, will allow it to smash protons together at twice its current energy.
This improvement will enable scientists to probe heavier and more exotic particles, and potentially open up a “new realm of particle physics”.
After several years of intense speculation on the existence of the Higgs Boson, one area likely to garner attention is the hunt for dark matter – a substance which makes up about a quarter of the universe.
For comparison “normal” matter, or the stuff of which we are made, accounts for less than five per cent.
Dark matter acts as a “cosmic glue” which gives the universe its structure, and is responsible for forming galaxies and holding them together.
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But it has never been glimpsed before and its existence can only be inferred because it exerts a slight gravitational pull on other particles.
Physicists hope that by smashing particles together at greater powers after the LHC reopens in 2015, they can mimic the conditions of the Big Bang and create small amounts of man-made dark matter.
Dr Alan Barr, of the LHC’s Atlas experiment, explained: “If we could produce our own in the lab we would be able to study it and learn what it is made of, where it comes from and how it is related to normal matter.
“That would also allow us to understand much more about what is the dominant form of matter in the Universe.”
The LHC’s upgrade involves replacing 10,000 connections and some of the magnets which guide particles around the 27km accelerator, installing 5,000 new insulation systems and testing tens of thousands of parts.
Some of the work involves repairing damage which occurred shortly after the collider was first switched on in 2008 because the connections could not cope with the electrical current passing through them.
It remains to be seen whether the alterations will be enough to generate dark matter, or whether a discovery will have to wait until after the next planned upgrade in 2020, but scientists are optimistic that it will pave the way for “new physics”.
Dr Pippa Wells, also of Atlas, told the BBC: “People are absolutely fired up. They’ve made one new discovery (the Higgs) and they want to make more discoveries with the new high energies that the upgrade will give us. We could find a new realm of particle physics.”