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  #11  
Old Jul 5th 2012, 03:35 AM
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Default Re: Higgs to be confirmed ?!

I guess this is mostly directed at Dominick because he seems to have the physics education among us, but others may respond of course if you know the answer or can contribute to the thread.

If we learn to manipulate this field/particle (the Higgs-boson) in the same way that we can manipulate, say, electrons for the purposes of producing electricity, would we be able to significantly manipulate mass itself? Could we possibly do things like increase or decrease the mass of an object by manipulating this field/particle? Is this something that is even theoretically possible or is it something that is being talked about in the physics world? All fascinating stuff to me and thanks for the very simple explanation of the science behind this.
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Old Jul 5th 2012, 10:15 AM
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Default Re: Higgs to be confirmed ?!

The Higgs-Boson walks into a church - the priest says "We don't allow higgs-bosons in here." The Higgs-Boson says "But without me, how can you have mass?"
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Old Jul 5th 2012, 12:42 PM
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Default Re: Higgs to be confirmed ?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Americano View Post
How does this impact the world? What changes in 10, 20, 50 years?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greendruid View Post
I guess this is mostly directed at Dominick because he seems to have the physics education among us, but others may respond of course if you know the answer or can contribute to the thread.

If we learn to manipulate this field/particle (the Higgs-boson) in the same way that we can manipulate, say, electrons for the purposes of producing electricity, would we be able to significantly manipulate mass itself? Could we possibly do things like increase or decrease the mass of an object by manipulating this field/particle? Is this something that is even theoretically possible or is it something that is being talked about in the physics world? All fascinating stuff to me and thanks for the very simple explanation of the science behind this.
Interesting questions for sure.

The short and honest answer would be : I don't know I don't have any formal education in this (or any) field but I have read and do read a (helluva) lot on this and similar subjects so I'll venture some semi-educated guesses anyway.

First and foremost and while this isn't actually the nature of the questions it should be re-emphasized that this is a major theoretical breakthrough. (I'm assuming full confirmation in the next month or so). When something is yet to be established with the sufficient degree of certainty in science there always arises a plethora of theories, subtheories, hypotheses, ideas and whatnot. Sooner or later such a situation needs to be cleaned up otherwise one ends up with a mess of conjectures. This will happen now; the focus of investigation will narrow and become much less haphazard. That's a very good thing for all concerned including the donors of grants which includes the citizens.

In that light there's also the aspect that it validates the cost of the LHC. That's important too especially in the light of the decision of the US Congress in 1993 to cancel the SSC, a particle accelerator that would have had thrice the capabilities of the LHC and would have been the natural successor of it. There's now a gap that won't be filled until the ILC is built (IF it gets built).

And that's just about it when I considered practical applications or everyday impact.

It's not because we know that something is there that we can do something useful with it. It would be better to compare the situation with that of relativity instead of the electromagnetic force. We've known about that for a hundred years but still no one (except for some Internet crackpots lol) has a clue how one could physically manipulate the curvature of space while that would give immediate and mind-blowing possibilities.

It may be because I'm singularly focused on the theoretical aspect, but I can't recall a single allusion to practical applications in everything I've read on the subject of the Higgs field. It already requires an enormously big and costly apparatus just to find out if the thing is there and in a way a particle accelerator is a brutish machine; it just smashes things into each other to give the experimenters the chance to sift through the debris. There is no control of the field or the particle whatsoever.

Genius breakthroughs do happen but it would require a fair amount of them to go from observing a thingy for a trillionth of a second in a dedicated machine to having the tools to play with it at will.

It's tempting to speculate on the subject but it almost immediately becomes science fiction or wishful thinking. Fact is that there is no technology known at the moment that even hints at the possibility of the manipulation of the Higgs field. Theoretically it's possible, sure, but theoretically it's also possible that the universe will undergo a phase transition in five minutes that will obliterate all mass and energy in it.

No, soberly speaking I think that one can say safely that for the next twenty years or so there will be as good as certainly no impact at all for everyday life and that may very well be the case for the next 50 years or so. Beyond that it becomes anyone's guess.
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Old Jul 5th 2012, 02:29 PM
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Default Re: Higgs to be confirmed ?!

Oh, and a message to the media :

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Old Jul 6th 2012, 12:50 AM
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Default Re: Higgs to be confirmed ?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominick View Post
Interesting questions for sure.

The short and honest answer would be : I don't know I don't have any formal education in this (or any) field but I have read and do read a (helluva) lot on this and similar subjects so I'll venture some semi-educated guesses anyway.

First and foremost and while this isn't actually the nature of the questions it should be re-emphasized that this is a major theoretical breakthrough. (I'm assuming full confirmation in the next month or so). When something is yet to be established with the sufficient degree of certainty in science there always arises a plethora of theories, subtheories, hypotheses, ideas and whatnot. Sooner or later such a situation needs to be cleaned up otherwise one ends up with a mess of conjectures. This will happen now; the focus of investigation will narrow and become much less haphazard. That's a very good thing for all concerned including the donors of grants which includes the citizens.
I don't know if I share your viewpoint about things becoming more focused now. For example, when electricity was discovered, it led to all kinds of experiments with the 'new' force that electricity promised to be. It seems to me that whenever science does this, the inventors step in and start tinkering. Eventually, someone produces something useful and it's usually not a scientist.

Quote:
In that light there's also the aspect that it validates the cost of the LHC. That's important too especially in the light of the decision of the US Congress in 1993 to cancel the SSC, a particle accelerator that would have had thrice the capabilities of the LHC and would have been the natural successor of it. There's now a gap that won't be filled until the ILC is built (IF it gets built).

And that's just about it when I considered practical applications or everyday impact.
These folks might disagree with your last statement and their thoughts seem to have gone in the same direction (almost exactly) as mine did when I wrote the last post.

Quote:
It's not because we know that something is there that we can do something useful with it. It would be better to compare the situation with that of relativity instead of the electromagnetic force. We've known about that for a hundred years but still no one (except for some Internet crackpots lol) has a clue how one could physically manipulate the curvature of space while that would give immediate and mind-blowing possibilities.

It may be because I'm singularly focused on the theoretical aspect, but I can't recall a single allusion to practical applications in everything I've read on the subject of the Higgs field. It already requires an enormously big and costly apparatus just to find out if the thing is there and in a way a particle accelerator is a brutish machine; it just smashes things into each other to give the experimenters the chance to sift through the debris. There is no control of the field or the particle whatsoever.
Again, it was a very, very, very long time before we could actually view how electrons were transferred with any confidence that we started to build devices to harness electrical power in various forms. Storage (batteries), transmission (wires), production (electromagnet motors, generators), and consumption devices (anything that uses electricity) were built long before the scanning electron microscope could confirm and see what was happening. I suspect things will proceed in much the same way with this. I would also note that all of those things were relatively cheap to produce in comparison to an SEM.

Quote:
Genius breakthroughs do happen but it would require a fair amount of them to go from observing a thingy for a trillionth of a second in a dedicated machine to having the tools to play with it at will.

It's tempting to speculate on the subject but it almost immediately becomes science fiction or wishful thinking. Fact is that there is no technology known at the moment that even hints at the possibility of the manipulation of the Higgs field. Theoretically it's possible, sure, but theoretically it's also possible that the universe will undergo a phase transition in five minutes that will obliterate all mass and energy in it.

No, soberly speaking I think that one can say safely that for the next twenty years or so there will be as good as certainly no impact at all for everyday life and that may very well be the case for the next 50 years or so. Beyond that it becomes anyone's guess.
You might be right. But there are a lot more inventors out there with disposable income to play with this sort of thing than there has ever been at any other point in the history of scientific discoveries. I think John Hutchinson has been onto something along these lines already. He's probably most often laughed at for his videos but he kind of seems to be doing the kinds of things that lead to useful inventions. This is probably one of the better videos of his work as well as a couple of others.
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 08:12 AM
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Default Re: Higgs to be confirmed ?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominick View Post
Oh, and a message to the media :
Would you care to explain why/how Higgs-Boson got the nickname "god particle" in the first place? I'm rather curious about that.
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  #17  
Old Jul 6th 2012, 09:09 AM
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Default Re: Higgs to be confirmed ?!

I could be wrong about this, but I think it came from the title of a book on the subject written for laymen.
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Old Jul 6th 2012, 12:18 PM
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Default Re: Higgs to be confirmed ?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael View Post
Would you care to explain why/how Higgs-Boson got the nickname "god particle" in the first place? I'm rather curious about that.
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Originally Posted by drgoodtrips View Post
I could be wrong about this, but I think it came from the title of a book on the subject written for laymen.
Yes, that appears to come from this book. I don't know if it's apocryphal or not but the author is is supposed to have said:
Quote:
Originally Posted by wiki
Lederman said he gave the Higgs boson the nickname "The God Particle" because the particle is "so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our final understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive,"[5][6][7] 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."
It's just another example of how science gets corrupted the second it enters mainstream attention and especially when something, i.c. a book needs to be sold.

Even the name Higgs particle is actually a poor choice. It should be called the Higgs-Brout-Englert-Kibble-Hagen-Guralnik particle because Robert Brout, François Englert, Tom Kibble, C. Hagen and Gerald Guralnik all have an equal claim to it as has Peter Higgs. They more or less simultaneously published papers that proposed the Higgs mechanism. In science that is acknowledged e.g. when they collectively won the 2010 J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics. The likely forthcoming Nobel Prize will no doubt be shared amongst all six too.

But yeah, the media....

The following is at least funny:

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Old Jul 6th 2012, 01:30 PM
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Default Re: Higgs to be confirmed ?!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greendruid View Post
I don't know if I share your viewpoint about things becoming more focused now.
The theoretical research will. Merely knowing its mass precisely (in the scientific meaning) already does that. Someone who had built a theory on the assumption that the mass was 145 GeV/c² instead of 126 will have to see if his theory can accommodate this difference and if not, simply discard the theory. Pinpointing other properties in the next few years will only add to that process of sifting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greendruid View Post
For example, when electricity was discovered, it led to all kinds of experiments with the 'new' force that electricity promised to be. It seems to me that whenever science does this, the inventors step in and start tinkering. Eventually, someone produces something useful and it's usually not a scientist.

Again, it was a very, very, very long time before we could actually view how electrons were transferred with any confidence that we started to build devices to harness electrical power in various forms. Storage (batteries), transmission (wires), production (electromagnet motors, generators), and consumption devices (anything that uses electricity) were built long before the scanning electron microscope could confirm and see what was happening. I suspect things will proceed in much the same way with this. I would also note that all of those things were relatively cheap to produce in comparison to an SEM.
You really can't compare the electromagnetic force to the Higgs field. The first manifests itself ubiquitously in our macroscopic world while the latter is way more fundamental than even the nuclear force. And the nuclear force is already a force that requires heavy investments and large organizations. Nobody's tinkering with the nuclear force in their garden shed (luckily) and the scope of Higgs is many orders of magnitude beyond that.

You're a practical person (the bees); you could re-do most of the experiments that led to the understanding of the electromagnetic force. But you couldn't do the same for the nuclear force, no matter what. And that is even much more so the case for the Higgs mechanism. There simply aren't any macroscopic manifestations of it to play with.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greendruid View Post
These folks might disagree with your last statement and their thoughts seem to have gone in the same direction (almost exactly) as mine did when I wrote the last post.
You're no doubt no stranger to the mechanisms of the process of getting grants. The people of CERN are alas submitted to that same humiliation vis-à-vis ignorant administrators and scientifically idiotic politicians. They have to play the PR game even if it means uttering absurdities such as 'light-speed travel'.
But note that they are nevertheless clever in what they say:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Albert De Roeck
“Can we apply it to something? At this moment my imagination is too small to do that.”
Nice way of saying : Nothing at all.

Or
Quote:
Originally Posted by article
De Roeck said he would find it a “little boring at the end if it turns out that this is just the Standard Model Higgs.”
Nice way of saying: It's most likely the Standard Model Higgs, but we need a cliffhanger to keep your attention.

The crux of the matter and the context of the expressions they used surfaces here:
Quote:
Originally Posted by article
Funding for particle physics is already under scrutiny in North America, where the LHC’s predecessor, the Illinois-based Tevatron run by Fermilab, was closed late last year due to financial constraints.

Fermilab director Pier Oddone said money was a “big, big issue” threatening progress in the United States and he hoped the Higgs discovery would spur greater funding from U.S. agencies and Congress.
and here:

Quote:
Originally Posted by article
De Roeck said there were similar problems in Europe, where physicists will meet in September to discuss research priorities for the next 20 years and whether they need and can afford an accelerator after the LHC.
They'll need an even bigger machine in the future and they're taking advantage of this opportunity to the fullest to start 'massaging the wallets'.

It's not all PR though:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Article
“It could be, for example, that the Higgs particle acts as a bridge between ordinary matter, which makes up atoms, and dark matter, which we know is a very important component of the universe.”
So-called dark matter (which is not the mystical stuff as it gets portrayed in the media) is indeed one of the fields where knowledge of the specifics of the Higgs boson will be a great help.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Greendruid View Post
You might be right. But there are a lot more inventors out there with disposable income to play with this sort of thing than there has ever been at any other point in the history of scientific discoveries. I think John Hutchinson has been onto something along these lines already. He's probably most often laughed at for his videos but he kind of seems to be doing the kinds of things that lead to useful inventions. This is probably one of the better videos of his work as well as a couple of others.
That's exactly the kind of Internet crackpot I referred to in an earlier post. Sorry, but life's too short to invest time and thought into debunking each and every one of them. I did that for a while with 9/11 conspiracies and that was an utter waste of time. No amount of reason could make them change their mind and I'm sure Mr. Hutchinson is of the same nature. If and when Mr. Hutchinson publishes a peer-reviewed scientific article on his 'theories' I'll be all over it. Promise
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  #20  
Old Oct 8th 2013, 09:52 AM
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Default Re: Higgs to be confirmed ?!

Well, that didn't take long:

Higgs boson scientists win Nobel prize in physics

A bit surprised though that:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominick
Even the name Higgs particle is actually a poor choice. It should be called the Higgs-Brout-Englert-Kibble-Hagen-Guralnik particle because Robert Brout, François Englert, Tom Kibble, C. Hagen and Gerald Guralnik all have an equal claim to it as has Peter Higgs. They more or less simultaneously published papers that proposed the Higgs mechanism. In science that is acknowledged e.g. when they collectively won the 2010 J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics. The likely forthcoming Nobel Prize will no doubt be shared amongst all six too.
didn't happen.

Robert Brout passed away some time ago but the other three are left out altogether.
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