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CERN's Search for the 'Holy Grail of Physics' Set to Go Live Next Spring

Higgs_bison_2 "We don't even know what to expect," says French physicist Yves Schutz. "We're now in a domain of energy that nobody has ever explored."

What happens when you take 185,000 gallons of liquid Helium, 1,200 superconducting magnets weighing several tons apiece and chill it colder than outerspace?  Hopefully you get confirmation of the much anticipated Higgs boson.

Contrary to rumors sweeping the academic blogosphere, CERN's Large Hadron Collider is still on track to begin hunting for the long sought Higgs boson next March, according to LHC project leader Lyn Evans of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). But a crucial upgrade of 16 superconducting magnets around the accelerator will prevent a full test run originally planned for this December, he says, meaning researchers will have to troubleshoot glitches on the fly.

It's taken CERN, the European physics consortium, 20 years, 8 billion dollars and the combined efforts of over 60 countries, but they are finally nearing completion on a 17 mile underground loop that forms the heart of what will be the world's largest atom smasher and one capable of exploring the entire range of energies thought capable of producing the predicted, but never before observed, particle.

First conceived in the 1960s by British theoretical physicist Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh, the Higgs boson was intended to help plug a huge gap in the understanding of quantum physics. The simplest and most elegant quantum models require that all elementary particles should have the same mass: zero. But every moment of human experience asserts this is not so and experiments show that the masses of elementary particles in fact differ by many orders of magnitude. Physicist Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas at Austin and Pakistani theorist Abdus Salam used the Higgs concept to bring theory in line with reality.

In Weinberg's synthesis, the Higgs field is like a sea of molasses that fills all of space. It resists the movement of particles to varying degrees. The more a particle interacts with the Higgs field, the greater the resistance and the heavier the particle. The symmetry of the standard model is thus restored because mass is no longer seen as an intrinsic property of matter. All elementary particles weigh nothing until they interact with the Higgs field. Variations in Higgs field interactions are the only explanation physicists have for the fact that the heftiest known particle weighs 200,000 times as much as the lightest one, while photons weigh nothing at all.

Scheduled to go online at the end of this year, the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, should be sufficiently sensitive to identify, once and for all, the last particle to be predicted by the Standard Model which relies on the Higgs Field, consisting of Higgs Bosons, to assign weight to every particle in existence.  The Fermilab's Tevatron in Chicago has so far proven to be insufficiently sensitive to detect the particle, while CERN's previous atom smasher, the Large Electron Positron, was shut down in 2000  just as it was beginning to produce data consistent with Higgs bosons in order to begin work on the LHC. Physicists have been patiently waiting 7 years for this massive undertaking to be completed in order to resume their search.

When completed, the LHC's subatomic fireballs will be the highest-energy particle collisions ever seen on Earth. This is uncharted territory. The collisions at LHC could spray out strange new kinds of matter, unfurl hidden dimensions of space, even generate tiny glowing reenactments of the birth of the universe. In short, there is more than just the search for the Higgs going on at the LHC.

Let the smashing begin.

Posted by Garth Sullivan.


Garth, thanks for the was very timely.

I doubt it will work though. The intimate secrets of God's Creation will not unveiled unless it is part of His plan. CERN, not withstanding.

The moment of Creation (a.k.a. Big Bang) is something to believe in, not recreate.

There is a simple understanding of the REAL HOLY GRAIL and the Catholic Church and Albert Einstein knew all about it.

IMHO Einstein couldn't go the distance with all the implications, because he was Jewish and an unothodox one at that.

If you understand the essential personhood of God, and the Christocentric nature of all Creation, then you can see more clearly how the physical relates to the spiritual and then you can see that the underlyig law...E=mc2 has a dual applicability. Einstein was fascinated by the Catholic understanding of transubstantation...and he went to Mass as a child for three years while in Catholic grade school.

Thanks again,


Riz, so glad you and others like you know how to keep so many in ignorance with the cloak of it will be revealed when it's revealed mentality.

Well maybe...just maybe that is why science is part of the human passion to move towards those revelations. Maybe God wants us to have science as part of our experience to "evolve" (yes I said it) towards greater unerstanding about our place in the universe and how it works. Seriously, if that were not the case, then my friend, you need to log off your computer not use it again and never see a doctor about anything that ails you as you might show yet again the hypocrisy of your thinking. Not a sermon, just a thought. "Not too much snooping" - Seriously...

I really can't see why there is such a problem with seeing that a belief in God as the Creator, Sustainer and Sanctifier of all that exists (outside of Himself) is at odds with what King Science attempts to understand and apply to the future. It is comments like yours that keep me motivated to show in whatever small way I can that TRUTH is discernable and that we humans are only to seek truth in all things.

Jesus is the Light of the World and as the Way, the Truth and the Life, He is our reference point, for He is ABSOLUTE.

Everything is then RELATIVE to Him.

Perhaps it was a mistake calling the Higgs Boson the 'God' particle.

Religion is both a weakness of mind and a very human tendancy to blanket the reality that we all die. Lets call it what it is and put in the bucket in which it belongs and get on with the work of understanding the physical reality we share and celebrate the work of scentists and mathematicians who give so much of their lives to the persuit of knowledge.

Also, please stop bastardising Einsteins view on religion, if you have done any serious research into the matter you will find that he politely snubbed the concept as far as he could without being ousted and labelled 'the antichrist'... as many scientists know it's not such a good idea to rattle the minds of the ignorant, it wasn't so long ago that doing so resulted in your death.

Thank you. Bring on 2008, what a year it will be for physics :-)

As 2008 keeps rolling by I fail to see the great promise of the Higgs Boson "materializing." Could it be that the scientists miscalculated? Or is it the difficulty of seeing back to the first three billionth of a second and getting the conditions just right for the proton-proton "accident" that got the universe started. Whatever the reason, time marches on and results of the multi-billion dollar CERN project are delayed.

I wouldn't hold your breath too long.

"As 2008 keeps rolling by I fail to see the great promise of the Higgs Boson "materializing." Could it be that the scientists miscalculated?"

Well, if you'd actually been following this project you would know it hasn't even been turned on yet. Red button day isn't until September 10th, and even at that they won't have the beams ramped up to full strength until the beginning of 2009.The is the most complex piece of machinery ever built by mankind. It is both a feat of engineering and a miracle of science. Naturally, due to its complexity, there will be delays. I know you're hoping this project won't succeed, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

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