God particle

Cecil’s summary of the so-called “God particle” in the Is there a God? article is pretty innacurate:

First of all, scientists don’t call it the “God particle” at all, they call it the Higgs boson. OK, one distinguished scientist called it the “God particle” in a book for non-scientists (which probably helped him sell more books), and the name gained some traction with the mainstream press. But scientists don’t write papers about the “God particle”, or go to conferences and discuss the “God particle”; it’s not a scientific term.

But all that aside, the Higgs boson isn’t a “fundamental force holding the universe together”. The Higgs field, which is related but not the same thing, is believed to be responsible for giving mass to the fundamental particles in the Standard Model. It’s not even responsible for all the mass of composite objects, much of which comes from the binding energy. It’s certainly not the “First Cause” or the “fundamental force”. And again, that’s the Higgs field we’re talking about, not even the Higgs boson.

The weird thing is, Cecil already knows this. So why spread misinformation on the subject now?

I suppose someone will say that Cecil was mostly kidding, but this is pretty darn misleading. The article ends like this:

Many (most?) physicists believe we’ll discover the Higgs boson at the LHC within the next few years. None of them (not even the religious ones) believe that we’ll discover God.

I can’t understand why those idiots think catching a god particle is worth the billions of dollars they spend. Oh wait…It’s another scam to get us to give them lots of money for their cushy jobs… Sorry I can’t get too excited about their never-ending promises of great energy potential that never materialize.

Cecil knows everything. He just doesn’t necessarily know everything all at the same time.

It’s called “fundamental science”. It’s about actually discovering something that helps us understand the nature of the world. It’s not intended to give us immediate practical results. That’s a different kind of research.

So says the person who has a computer, probably has a cell phone, possibly uses a GPS device, satellite TV…


Think any of those things were something to get excited about? Think any of them or the other myriad technologies you use every day were originally developed specifically (i.e., think someone set out to discover, say, radio)?


In the OP, tim314 quotes the Master saying:

Seemingly Cecil suggests that if you find something you think is worthy of being called God, all you need to do is defined it, and Lo! It is so.

Actually, speaking of defining God into existence, Cecil likewise defines Santa Claus into existence also:

Well, I guess you’re partially right. I got my first computers used, two system 32 IBMs. I then bought a commodore 128 complete with modem when they came out and hooked to the internet. It was expensive to use the net then. I’ve had computers since then building and repairing, and programing them myself. I got a bag phone back in 88 and everyone thought I was crazy for paying so much for one. It came out to about a dollar a minute/100 minute use. I had one of the big dishes and then switched to the little dish. We wasted fifty bucks a month on those packages. I installed an antenna and get 10 stations and have plenty to watch with no monthly expense. I have three compasses and don’t believe in GPS. We steered away from microwave ovens a year ago and don’t miss them a bit. I hate our DVD player with 60 little buttons which we use 5 of. All the remote controls need locators incorporated into them so you can find them. The cell phones look like remotes too much. I don’t believe in using a calculator unless it’s a complicated job, too many people take calculators out to do simple adding. I remember when the internet articles loaded quickly without ads and you didn’t need antivirus. We are starting to enter a world which is void of reality. Where do you propose that we are going to get the money to pay off our national debt? With spiraling costs of science research it’s either science or food on you’re table.

Basic science research is some pathetically tiny fraction of the budget. Good luck paying off the national debt with that.

Piling on: You posted this on a web site. The World Wide Web protocols were invented by a scientist at a research laboratory to help share data from experiments similar to the search for the Higgs Boson.

Some time soon the governments of Europe will have collected more tax revenue from e-commerce than they spent on all of CERN through its existence. It may have happened already.

What good is basic research? “What good is a newborn babe?”

And here I’d thought that Andy Rooney was dead.


Actually, this is an important point to make and I’d really recommend browsing through Wallstats. On WallStats it says the annual cost (I’m guessing projected cost) of eradicating world hunger would be 30 billion dollars in 2011. According to this website, that’s how much the US spent on nuclear weaponry. Call me an idealist, but I’d guess that if the US paid a little bit extra and stuck a little US flag on every food packet they sent to the third world, starving people would probably initially be suspicious of the food packets but then they’d wholeheartedly support the country that saved their families lives. Is it weird to consider that the standing of a country would go up more if they saved the lives of one’s countrymen rather than added to the stockpile of weapons capable of destroying most life on Earth?

By all means, discuss reducing the budget and lessening the deficit (though I have heard that increasing the deficit during a recession is a more practical method)… Would closing down the National Science Foundation, with a budget of 7.768bn dollars be more efficient than the 50bn classified surveillance spending, or the 17.6bn classified offence spending? Perhaps we’ll never know. Is it a good thing that government expenditure for maths, physics, biological sciences, computer science and engineering is less than that for the defense education agency? Perhaps not. Perhaps if America had fewer military bases (not less than a specific number, since the exact number is difficult to ascertain), the children could be educated at a state school on their homeland.

Oh yeah, if you want to skip the ads you can download Adblock and NoScript, but StraightDope doesn’t have a donate option as far as I’m aware so that may be disallowed.

And I had the same complaint with that column, and wrote a thread on it.

Why am I not surprised? Look, Rickymouse is an expert on everything.

My remotes don’t need locators. They’re always in the same place, on the table next to the chair.

The scientists searching for the Higgs boson? They work for CERN. That’s the *European *Organization for Nuclear Research.

So the money for paying the US’s national debt won’t come from there, even if CERN folded today.

And “spiraling costs of science research”? Where do you come up with this shit?

I blame his teachers. All of them.

No, I’m fully right. Even being an obvious technophobe as you are, you STILL use technology that has it’s origins in basic research of the same type being done on things like searching for the HB. No one know what the practical applications would be of that stuff…they were just, you know, doing basic research on how stuff works and discovered things that changed our very civilization. That’s how it happens. Maybe they will never discover the HB…but maybe they will. Regardless, they are opening up whole new avenues of knowledge for the whole human species, and who knows what might come out of that?

Blah blah. Look I get that you are a technophobe. No worries. But you watch TV…you admitted that above. even if you are still in the dark ages and using an antenna, where do you think the knowledge of how to transmit TV came from? Where do you think radio came from? Ever heard of that guy Maxwell? Look him up some time and see what he was doing when he discovered some of the basic concepts that you use every day.

And understand…just because YOU are a technophobe, not everyone else is…and many of the services you probably rely on do use that evil technology stuff. Unless your house is fire proof, you are in 100% perfect health, no natural disasters can or would ever happen to you or your community, there are no thieves in your area, you don’t use power from the grid, etc etc etc…


Yeah, I mean, ghosts[sup]1[/sup] are bad enough already! How would you even write down a Lagrangian for god?

You realize the net started as a research project, right? Even worse, a government one.

I suspect by building you mean putting boards you bought together. I’m guessing you didn’t fab the chips yourself. I’m also guessing you don’t understand the fundamental physics that goes into developing new circuits, and how that all started with fundamental research.

When I was growing up we had seven channels, and only that many since I lived in New York. That you want to live in the 1950s doesn’t mean that the millions who watch using satellite don’t count - and the ability to commercially launch satellites comes from basic government-sponsored research. And it adds a lot to the economy and makes jobs.

I was in the Boy Scouts, but I don’t remember anything in the Boy Scout Handbook about establishing your exact location using three compasses. If they disagree, time for some new compasses. I trust that though you like to get lost, you do believe GPS works, right? You just don’t believe in using it. I hope you believe in asking for directions.

How many jobs did research in digital logic and computers create? I live in Silicon Valley - a lot. I heard the head of NIH describe the payback for medical research - it is some crazy multiplier, like 40 - 1 or more. Not to mention the green revolution. If it wasn’t for scientific research there wouldn’t be food on your table.

A friend of mine died because of electronics and a GPS system. There were two guys and two women in a boat and they had the GPS hooked to a navigation system to control movement of the boat. When the GPOS signal was lost it defaulted to a small circle pattern. The downriggers got caught in the propeller and the weight pulled down on the back of the boat. As they tried to untangle the downrigger cables from the prop, with extra weight from them on the back, the waves came over the boat and sunk it and flipped it. The other guy who owned the boat wound up stuck in his wheelchair under the boat when it flipped and the guy I know helped the women onto the hull then drowned himself. That’s an example of technology for you. Technology has cost many jobs for people in the USA. One machine can do the work of 30. This is a loss of 29 jobs and the gain of one high paying job. Look at the information about this. I know a lot about circuitry. I cannot build a chipset but I understand the fundamentals of their design. If all the <redir> software was removed form a computer put there from yahoo, google, and every site and there was no need to have antivirus or spyware blockers on a computer, basicly running lenox, then a pentium pro 200 would surf the net fine. The internet also caused a loss of Postal jobs and buying on the net causes much loss of sales tax revenue. The net also lowers the amount of local jobs in stores around here because people save a few bucks buying from big companies. I am sure that the government will soon go after those who aren’t paying an excise tax on their purchases because it is the law to pay it in leau of sales tax. I understand all of this. There are some who know much more than I about circuitry, but they know little about how everything fits together. There is going to be big changes in the next few years to the way this country does business.

I have no problem with opening the mind to new knowledge, but I question the cost effectiveness and how it will be paid for. We are neering 15 trillion in debt and it’s still increasing. Cuts have to be made. How many people do you know out of work? How many that had good paying jobs and prestige have lost their homes. The little spent on helping the poor is not nearly enough to do anything, those programs have been cut and there is a gaining number of people utilizing them that were middle class. It could be you’re job next, the government can’t afford to keep pumping money out. Everyone benefits from the governments spending, every persons life is affected in this country one way or another. I think knowing how everything fits together is much more practical than designing circuit boards.

You seem to be saying that government spending is simultaneously good and bad. I can’t make heads or tails of your whining. Try forming a coherent thought first.