Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The 'Goddamn' that lost its 'damn' bit

Years ago, during summer leisure time I read a number of popular science articles relating to the experiments of the billions worth Large Hadron Collider (a.k.a. LHC) at the CERN in Geneva. In those I came across the so called Higgs boson, and found the entire story quite fascinating. We need to admit that the brain work that has been delivered by theoretical physicists in the last hundred and some years is amazing and almost unbelievable. I always had a deep respect for that level of scientific intuition and mathematical genius of those who came up with the theories we know to this day. Higgs's work is such an example. Then, I felt sorry for the dude, because he's been waiting for so long for experimental scientists to prove him right and perhaps award him the Nobel before he passes (he's in his early eighties right now... just a kid!).
The last few days the rumor mill about an imminent announcement (that eventually came today, on Independence day) about the likely discovery of the Higgs particle went on and on. In micro-secs thousands of articles flooded since yesterday, July 3rd the Internet based on a 'leak' at CERN of a video clip relating to the announcement. Those folks at CERN look more and more like Apple's future product rumor leakers about the new iPhone and Apple TV, I'd say. Anyways, the historic news about the discovery of a new particle that lives extremely short times and supplies mass to those micro-particles that, bluntly and roughly said, will work with it was announced today in Geneva in a historic event that will change the course of the History of Physics for ever. It's been a long time that any new particle was discovered, and Nobel prizes in Physics became kinda dull the last 20 years.
There's a hilarious bit in this story though. Concerns the 'God' particle epithet that the Higgs boson received in 1993 after Leo Lederman's popular science book The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? was published. Lederman wanted the title to be 'Goddamn particle' but his Publisher disagreed and changed it to 'God'. Popular myths rationalised the Publisher's proposed name, because, you see, the particle was one of missing links in understanding 'God's secrets' of the nature. Higgs, an atheist in his own admission, is not too happy with the religious attribute, but what can he do? The masses love sensation and the supernatural, and God fits all that right on the money.
The hilarious part came today, where in each and every TV channel that I watched news reporters have been referring to the discovered particle with some mysterious Godly rationale, totally ignoring the real reasons of the 'God' attribute becoming 'God' after Lederman's original choice of adjective lost it's 'damn' bit, courtesy of his Publisher! It gets even better. The Bishop of Piraeus in Greece (don't these buggers have anything else to do?) went ballistic this morning, when he heard about the Geneva announcement and, presumably thinking of himself as the Great One with monopoly to speak in the name of the one and only God, came that close to 'excommunicate' Higgs himself and the CERN scientists. 'If that particle is so smart, why didn't it do the announcement then, instead of the scientists who discovered it?', asked the wise bischop. Now tell me, how thick and ignorant can someone be to claim something like this? Let me add my personal flavour to that too. If that moron Bischop talks to God every single day, how come God didn't tell him the truth behind the story as it actually happened, and refrain from making an ass of himself in the public, proving he's plain braindead? Even more. How come God didn't tell his loyal Piraeus subject the real truth about energy and matter to stop spending our taxpayer billions in those fancy CERN experiments, colliding micro-particles by the quadrillions? There's always a simple explanation by God believers. I read one of those in the comments section in one of the Higgs announcement related reports this morning. A religious reader 'wisely' said that we need to have faith in God in order to understand His creations. I say: Happy are the faithful (and simpleminded). Because they are OK with fairy tales. And don't need no actual facts to see the truth. I'm honestly sorry. I'm nowhere close to buying this. Show me the facts. That's my kind of 'faith'...

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