The Weizmann Institute and the G-d particle

Driving home today, one could hear Dr Karl on the radio excitedly discussing the Higgs boson particle, that has been termed the “G-d particle”.

Not surprisingly, Weizmann Institute scientists have played a major role in its discovery, as described here.  and this video “The discovery is considered the most exciting in a century. It proves there is an invisible energy field within the vacuum of the universe. The particle is named after Peter Higgs, who said in 1964 that there is a new particle, the one scientists finally have found, that helped turn vacuum into matter.”

“In the effort to discover the Higgs boson, unify the fundamental forces and understand the origin of mass in the universe, scientists built the world’s largest machine: a particle accelerator nestled in a 27-km-long circular tunnel, 100 meters beneath the border between France and Switzerland, in the European particle physics laboratory, CERN.

The Large Hadron Collider accelerates beams of protons up to 99.999998% the speed of light. According to the theory of relativity, this increases their mass by 7,500 times that of their normal resting mass. The accelerator aims the beams straight at each other, causing collisions that release so much energy, the protons themselves explode. For much less than the blink of an eye, conditions similar to those that existed in the universe in the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang are present in the accelerator.

As a result, particles of matter are turned into energy, in accordance with Albert Einstein’s famous equation describing the conversion of matter into energy: E=mc2. The energy then propagates through space and the system cools.

Consequently, energy turns back into particles of matter and the process is repeated until particles that can exist in reality as we know it are formed, Weizmann scientists explained.”

One of the most important, but least understood, aspects of matter is mass. Science is not entirely sure why some particles seem mass-less, like photons, and others are “massive.” The standard model predicts that there is an elementary particle, the Higgs boson, which would produce the effect of mass. Confirmation of the Higgs boson would be a major milestone in our understanding of physics.

The “God particle” nickname actually arose when the book The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? by Leon Lederman was published. Since then, it’s taken on a life of its own, in part because of the monumental questions about matter that the God particle might be able to answer. The man who first proposed the Higgs boson’s existence, Peter Higgs, isn’t all that amused by the nickname “God particle,” as he’s an avowed atheist. All the same, there isn’t really any religious intention behind the nickname.”

And another article here which uses sports fields analogies to try to explain it.  Here is a link to the Weitmann Institute website which also discussesthe discovery here.  The long road through the campus up to the Weizmann house is a fascinating walk, where you can just imagine all the scientific endeavours happening within each building.

More on the Higgs boson in fiction and Leon Lederman

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One thought on “The Weizmann Institute and the G-d particle

  1. Alllan - Bondi July 12, 2012 at 3:54 pm -

    Not surprisingly, there was no mention of the Israeli contribution in our little local daily paper.