Kamis, 05 Juli 2012

Looking at the Invisible

This week at CERN, the Organization for European Nuclear Research, near Geneva, Switzerland, nuclear physicists may have discovered the Higgs boson, first theorized to exist back in 1964.  Using the Large Hadron Collider, in operation for just two years, they smashed protons together at high velocity and found a particle that had never been observed with past forms of technology.  Based on their initial calculations, it is thought to be a transient manifestation of the cosmic soup that gives mass to the elementary particles.

If confirmed, this discovery will herald a new era in our understanding of the Universe, focusing on the dark energy and dark matter that, combined, make up over 95% of its content.  Indeed, the visible stars, planets, comets, asteroids and interstellar dust make up less than 1% of the Universe, with intergalactic gas accounting for 3.5% or so.  This week, we caught our first glimpse of the dark side and took our first step toward understanding the dark energy that is causing the Universe to expand at an increasing rate.

For most of us, the details of the Higgs boson discovery are difficult to understand.  Those who prefer to concentrate on the simplistic dogma of their chosen religion will dismiss the news as scientific heresay; after all, bosons are not mentioned in the Bible.  But for those hungry to understand the complex nature of our Universe, this discovery promises a new world of adventure.

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