What The Hell Is A Higgs Boson? Ctd

Residents of Williamsburg, hipster capital of the world, take a stab at the question:

The Dish covered the particle yesterday. A reader responds:

Your quote about Robert Wright's perplexity – " I think the physicists who 'understand' what it is can do so only because they don't have the layperson's compulsion to think about the world in ways that are ultimately metaphorical" – reminded me of a few paragraphs that James Gleick wrote in his biography of Isaac Newton.  Newton's laws  were once the bleeding edge of research, understandable by only a few.  Nowadays, they're utterly intuitive:

What The Hell Is A Higgs Boson?

Scientists at CERN appear to have found it yesterday. A helpful video from a few months back explains it:


Lawrence Krauss is excited:

[T]he Higgs field implies that otherwise seemingly empty space is much richer and weirder than we could have imagined even a century ago, and in fact that we cannot understand our own existence without understanding “emptiness” better. Readers of mine will know that as a physicist, I have been particularly interested in “nothing” in all of its forms and its relation to something—namely us. The discovery of the Higgs says that “nothing” is getting ever more interesting.

Robert Wright confesses that he doesn't understand the new particle:

Finding The God Particle

Particle Fever is a new documentary that follows the scientists who worked with CERN’s Large Hadron Collider for four years until July 4, 2012, when they announced the discovery of the long-theorized Higgs boson, or “God particle.” Josh Modell explains what was at stake for the scientists depicted: After years and years of meticulous planning … Continue reading Finding The God Particle

Freezing As The World Warms, Ctd

A reader from Minnesota insists that the polar vortex was actually not that bad – at least by Minnesota standards: Our coldest temperature recorded a couple days ago was -23 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s plenty cold. But 50 years ago, Minneapolis winters regularly hit -30 degrees Fahrenheit. In the ’60s and ’70s, this occurred every three to four … Continue reading Freezing As The World Warms, Ctd

Experiments In Humility

Detailing a number of scientific discoveries, like the Higgs Boson particle, that have left researchers with “no idea where to go next,” Jason Morehead learns to love that “with every discovery, nature is revealed to be far stranger and more mysterious than we could’ve imagined”: Science is a chief way in which humanity increases in … Continue reading Experiments In Humility

The Sorry State Of Science?

The Economist complains that modern scientists are doing “too much trusting and not enough verifying—to the detriment of the whole of science, and of humanity”: Academic scientists readily acknowledge that they often get things wrong. But they also hold fast to the idea that these errors get corrected over time as other scientists try to … Continue reading The Sorry State Of Science?

The Mind’s Enduring Mysteries

Michael Hanlon reminds us of why human consciousness eludes our understanding: The problem is that, even if we know what someone is thinking about, or what they are likely to do, we still don’t know what it’s like to be that person. Hemodynamic changes in your prefrontal cortex might tell me that you are looking … Continue reading The Mind’s Enduring Mysteries