The search for the Higgs Boson Particle, or “God’s Particle”, is something which hits the news headlines every few years. Strangely though, in a world where the media normally focuses on celebrities and the un-newsworthy, the search for the Higgs boson relates to the confirmation of a physics theory.
Named after the Edinburgh based scientist, Peter Higgs, the search for the Higgs Boson Particle has been going on for almost sixty years. In essence it is the search for the missing part that provides all other particles within the Standard Model their properties, and in particular their mass.
The majority of the work looking to find the Higgs boson is being undertaken at the Tevatron at Fermilab outside of Chicago, and the Large Hadron Collider at CERN on the France-Switzerland border; with the two institutions currently undertaking overlapping work, until CERN comes up to full power.
In setting up the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Community will have spent some GBP6 Billion. Is this outlay justified? After all if the Higgs boson is discovered it will simply mean that a physics theory is confirmed. There is of course an argument to be made about whether this money could have been better spent, and many people will ask why such sums are not invested in the development of new energy sources.
The importance of finding the Higgs boson is debatable, and will it affect the man in the street? To all intents and purposes there are no practical applications for the discovery of the Higgs boson, or at least none that have been discovered so far.
This though doesn’t mean that the population of the world will not be impacted by the potential discovery. The World Wide Web was something that originated out of CERN, when Tim Berners-Lee came up with a way of scientists to share information from all points of the globe.
Throughout the history of mankind though, it is the discoveries that have brought about a civilised society. The continual search for knowledge has brought about developments in connected fields. At the very least, the publicity about the search for the Higgs Boson Particle is likely to have inspired many children to take an interest in science, and who knows just what they might discover and develop in the future?
Source – http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/sep/10/cern.particlephysics