The “God Particle” is the nickname given to the Higgs Boson Particle which is a subatomic particle. To understand why the God Particle has such a lofty nickname and why it is so important, a brief lesson particle physics in very simple terms is due. Then, it is possible to understand what all the fuss is really over when it comes to the God Particle.
Aside from what many people have gleaned about the God Particle from the book and movie “Angels and Demons”, the God Particle is special. Various subatomic particles give matter different properties, but the God Particle is the only one known that can give mass to matter. What that basically means is the God Particle creates something out of nothing.
For example, protons and neutrons have mass while photons do not. No one is sure how that can be, it just is. Somewhere, something has to be able to create mass, which is where the God Particle comes in. The God Particle can give mass to a mass-less photon, and if that is proved, it changes the way physics has to be looked at in the future. As importantly, it changes the way many people are looking at things beyond particle physics as well which is where the controversy comes in.
In the very near future at the Large Hadron Collider, subatomic particles will collide which is going to prove one way or another to a fairly certain degree if the Higgs Boson Particle is what has been theorized. If it is not, then the search for answers to the universe goes on. If the findings do back up what is theorized then it creates a scenario some find less than comfortable.
There are people that believe faith in a divine creator and science cannot mix. They do not believe in evolution aided by divine intervention, and they do not believe in the possibility that there is a subatomic particle that can in essence create life. To discuss the possibility much less provide proof is bordering on blasphemy to them.
If proved a reality, the Higgs Boson Particle opens the door to there being a way to explain the creation of mass. Previously, anyone that felt the creation of mass was impossible could always say “show me the proof! Create some mass for me!” Of course no one was ever able to, and the challengers could walk away safe in their beliefs. To be able to create mass causes a dilemma for those antagonists – something previously explained as an act only possible by the hand of a divine creator can be replicated over and over again in a lab. That creates a fear that maybe – just maybe there is no divine creator.
Certainly not everyone feels that way, so far it has only been some fringe organizations against the upcoming test that are predicting doom and gloom and calling it a sign of the apocalypse. Any challenge to their hard line faith has to in their eyes lead to the end of days. They predict the wrath of God, reign of evil, boiling seas, and on and on. They warn of a huge black hole opening over the Earth and swallowing it whole, or fires nothing can extinguish ravaging the planet.
For the most part however people around the world are excited and looking forward to seeing if the Higgs Boson particle is all that is advertised. In a survey of 1,322 adults that identified as people devout to their faith, 89% responded that if the God Particle was proved to be able to create mass it would in no way change the depth of their religious faith. To summarize what one gentleman pointed out, there is nothing saying that you can’t believe God created the Higgs Boson particle to do just what it is, and that discovering that won’t shake real faith.
The belief is that the God Particle will finally be isolated, and that when it is nothing will change in the daily lives of people not actively employed in the fields of particle physics. Some may have their religious faith shaken, others strengthened that such an awesome power exists. There is even a small camp of people claiming the Higgs Boson Particle is God. Then again there are plenty of people that will likely give the discovery a passing glance and go on with their day not thinking of it until it appears in the news again. The only thing for sure is that whether the God Particle experiment goes as planned or not, something will be learned, progress will be made, and time will move on.
Then again it could change everything. What if man learns how to replicate the creation of mass at some point? Will it destroy organized religion? Will something go catastrophically wrong when particles collide? Anything is theoretically possible. Yes, the God Particle may change the world, it just isn’t likely to be something that happens while any of us are on the planet.