In what has to be the most fatuous, ego-driven fraud perpetrated on the public since Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast in 1938, a group of scientists announced this week that it has found the Higgs boson particle, thereby opening the door to solving all the mysteries of the universe.
Well, OK, the scientists didn't actually find it, but after spending untold billions of dollars to build and operate particle accelerators to smash miniscule items into each other, they say they have found "evidence" of the particle … therefore it exists. As a result, they can now apply for a Nobel Prize in science and get rich selling ever-so-exciting documentaries on their "discovery."
(Yes I know that particle accelerators have useful purposes too, in medical research and cancer treatment for instance. But that isn't what they were used for in this case.)
Before we get too far down the line, despite the scientific assertions this week, the Higgs boson still is a hypothetical particle of matter. From Wikipedia: The Higgs boson is also called the God particle, after the title of Nobel physicist Leon Lederman's The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? which contained the author’s assertion that the discovery of the particle is crucial to a final understanding of the structure of matter. The existence of the Higgs boson was predicted in 1964 to explain the Higgs mechanism—the mechanism by which elementary particles are given mass.
In other news researchers have emerged from the deep woods of the Pacific Northwest with the stunning revelation that they have discovered the elusive creature "Bigfoot!" Well, they didn't actually discover the creature but they said they have found footprints and feces that are "evidence" Bigfoot exists. Therefore it exists.
In other, other news, a group of frost-bitten researchers in the Himalayas has emerged from the frozen mountains claiming to have discovered the elusive Yeti, also known as the Abominable Snowman. Well, those researchers didn't actually discover it but they have photos of its footprints and they too have feces, which apparently is the key to proving "discoveries" of this nature.
In other, other, other news I personally have discovered the elusive Tachyon. More on that in a minute.
For those of you who have been blissfully unaware of all this fuss a little history may be in order. Back in the early part of the last century a man named Albert Einstein – you may have heard of him – spent an inordinate amount of time doing math and postulating on why things are the way they are. From all this math and postulating came his famous Theory of Relativity that says Energy is equal to an object's Mass times the speed of light squared.
He already had at his disposal Isaac Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation which says that all mass in the universe attracts all other mass with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.
These theories proved very useful in determining a lot of previously unknown data both on this planet and in outer space. No one seriously questioned them because they didn't really matter in our day-to-day world, and very few other people wanted to spend that much time doing math.
But then in the latter part of the last century a guy named Hubble built an ultra-modern telescope that was launched into space where it started taking pictures and collecting massive amounts of data on of all kinds of extra-terrestrial things. Much of what we have learned from the Hubble comes from images created by focusing on the various frequencies in the light spectrum.
Meanwhile, super computers have been analyzing the gazillions of bits of information on the gazillions of galaxies, stars and planets that have been found thanks to the Hubble's capabilities. Unfortunately, as we learned more and more about the universe, scientists discovered that by using what we thought we knew about gravity and mass and relativity we should have been able to compute the mass of huge groups of objects like galaxies – but the numbers didn't add up.
There appeared to be significantly more mass – now referred to as Dark Matter – in the universe than could be seen, even by the most advanced measuring devices known to modern science.
But our intrepid band of researchers was not deterred and in conjunction with large universities often funded by tax dollars, as well as research labs also funded in part by tax dollars, started doing all kinds of calculations. In their view these calculations would not only solve the mystery of dark matter but would prove the existence of multiple dimensions – as many as 11 some say – which is in my opinion pure nonsense.
Decades of gut-wrenching, hand-wringing failures prompted a massive search for the Higgs boson particle using particle accelerators to put a smack down on increasingly smaller particles – way below the size of atoms – to see what dropped out after each collision. Ultimately they figured they'd find the Higgs boson and all would be well in the universe.
Billions upon billions of dollars later they have what they call "evidence" but still no Higgs boson. The result this week was an intergalactic Cover Your Ass moment to justify these gross expenditures. Despite the assertions, the scientists really haven't found the Higgs boson any more than Bigfoot or the Yeti have been found. Or the Tachyon.
The Tachyon, like the Higgs boson, is a hypothetical particle that travels faster than the speed of light. Its existence was first postulated by the noted scientist Eric Cartman of South Park U who was working off philosophical speculation from Rene Descartes who stated back in the 17th century something akin to I Think, Therefore I Am.
Cartman, taking that hypothesis a step further postulated I Think, Therefore I Am … I Think. This is now known throughout the scientific community as the Tachyon Hypothesis.
Since the Tachyon moves so fast no one has seen it; in fact Einstein would say it can't exist because nothing can travel faster than light. How could he possibly know that? Thought travels faster than light and transcends distance, at least in my opinion.
Nonetheless, I have discovered evidence that the Tachyon exists. Last night I took my sky-gazing telescope out just after sundown, with the intent of looking at some planets, and just over the horizon, just behind our sun, I saw skid marks way out in the solar system.
Now the only thing that could make skid marks like that in the vast emptiness of space is a Tachyon. I figure it must have some sort of intelligence associated with it because I hypothesize that it was headed straight for our Sun but put on the brakes and hung a hard left – hence the skid marks and my "evidence."
The skid marks are gone now but I did see them … so could someone put me in for a Nobel Prize too?
It seems to me that all the money that went into the search for a hypothetical particle that may or may not solve these math problems could have been put to a better use, considering the state of the real world – wars, climate change, pestilence, intolerance, food and water shortages for instance.
You know what really would have been helpful? The scientists could have developed a methodology that could teach any cashier in any fast food outlet that when a customer's bill comes out to say $16.23, and the customer hands the cashier $21.23, the cashier immediately hands back a $5 bill without the blank uncomprehending stare. This frees the customer from pockets full of unwanted coins and a wallet full of $1 bills.
A lot of commentators noted this week that even if or when the Higgs boson particle is really found it won't have much impact on humanity. But a fast food cashier who understands the relationship between seemingly random numbers? That would be an accomplishment!
Thursday, July 05, 2012