Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Particles, Godly or otherwise ...

All the excitement about the CERN Project's having 'discovered' the elusive 'God Particle' - what scientists call the Higgs Boson - certainly got the headline writers and many in the Anti-religion camps going. I discovered that Professor Higgs is not responsible for the name either, in fact it is a news hounds mis-quote of another scientist referring to the Higgs Boson as "the most elusive goddam particle" in the universe. Some smart newshound, probably with only the haziest idea of what the scientist was talking about reported it with the screaming headline "Scientists Seek the God Particle."

As I understand it - and I'm certainly no Particle Physicist - the Higgs Boson is important because it is the fragment of an atom that provides mass to an atom. It is the fragment around which an atom is built. It is smaller than an atom, yet makes up almost all the mass (weight in non-science speak) of the atom. It is the particle that emerged from the "Big Bang" and caused the formation of all other matter. So, the Higgs Boson evidently cannot exist on its own for more than a few nano-seconds, but seems to be the key to almost everything else.

What I find interesting in all the hype, is that many of the scientists involved feel a sense of awe and wonder as they seek to understand how all this works. Some even dare to admit that pure randomised chance doesn't seem a likely solution to the billions of possible combinations necessary to produce even simple life forms, never mind complex ones. And yes, we do have to acknowledge that each and every one of us is a unique set of atoms (and Higgs Bosons) and that we are all made up of atomic dust from exploding stars. Now we really are talking Godly particles.

For myself, I follow these discoveries with a great deal of interest. Each new leap in the dark on this and so much more in science simply tells me that life, in all its forms and shapes, shouldn't exist at all. The fact that it does, suggests to me that there are mysteries we are probably not meant to understand - at least, not yet.

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