Skip to comments.Higgs Boson Confirmed: Separating Fact from Hype (article)
Posted on 04/04/2013 12:23:46 PM PDT by fishtank
Higgs Boson Confirmed: Separating Fact from Hype by Jake Hebert, Ph.D. *
Scientists announced last week that they likely confirmed the existence of a particle called the Higgs boson.1 One media outlet said this of the Higgs boson: "It helps solve one of the most fundamental riddles of the universe: how the Big Bang created something out of nothing 13.7 billion years ago."2
But is this really true?
As noted in one of our online articles, there is a tendency for people to intuitively think of subatomic particles as being like wee-little marbles.3 However, a branch of physics called quantum field theory views particles as being "ripples" in quantities called fields. Many people may be familiar with the concept of a field from high school or college physics classes. The magnetic field surrounding a bar magnet is a well-known example: the fact that iron filings placed near the magnet align themselves along the magnetic field lines enables one to conceptually visualize the field surrounding the magnet. There is a field associated with the Higgs particle called the Higgs field. This field is somewhat different from more familiar examples of fields and is a particular kind called a scalar field.
The Standard Model is a theory that describes the relationships among elementary particles and three of the fundamental forces (it does not include gravity). Until this recent discovery, the existence of all the other particles in the Standard Model had been confirmed. Thus the confirmation of the Higgs' existence is a "big deal" in the physics community.
But why are some claiming that the Higgs boson helps to explain how the Big Bang supposedly created the universe? The reason involves something called inflation theory.
Early versions of the Big Bang model had serious problems. In order to address these particular problems, theorists invoked something called inflationa hypothetical, short-lived "growth spurt" right after the supposed Big Bang during which the universe increased enormously in size. Originally, theorists thought that inflation ended very quickly after the Big Bang. However, they later concluded that inflation, once it began, would never completely stop. Rather, different regions of space would stop inflating at different times. This would generate infinitely many pocket or bubble universes, of which our universe is only one in a vast multiverse. In this newer view, inflation is the "spark" or "fuse" that caused the "blowing up" of our universe. Thus inflation, in a sense, is the cause of the Big Bang.4
How does this relate to the Higgs boson? Inflation theorists believe that inflation caused the Big Bang, and that inflation was caused by a scalar field. As noted earlier, the Higgs field is a scalar field. Hence, the discovery of the Higgs boson supposedly helps explain how the Big Bang allegedly created the universe.
However, there is a huge problem with this claim. Manyif not mostBig Bang theorists do not believe that the Higgs field caused the Big Bang! Rather, they believe that the Big Bang was caused by another (still hypothetical) scalar field whose existence has not been confirmed. That the Higgs field is not the field that caused the alleged Big Bang has been acknowledged even by staunch believers in the Big Bang, including theoretical physicist and Big Bang "evangelist" Lawrence Krauss and leading inflationary theorist Paul Steinhardt.5,6,7
In fairness, most physicists have not been making such exaggerated claims regarding the Higgs boson. In fact, some seem to be somewhat embarrassed by the particle's irreverent nickname "the God particle."8 However, because of some articles in the popular press, as well as some extremely confusing (if not outright misleading) statements by theoretical physicist and popular author Michio Kaku,9,10 many people are now under the mistaken impression that the Higgs boson caused the Big Bang, and that the Big Bang has been all but proven. Yes, secular physicists hope that a better understanding of the Higgs scalar field will help them understand how another (still unknown) scalar field "blew up" the universe, but this is a far cry from breathless suggestions that the discovery of the Higgs is the death-knell of Christianity!
Although the confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson is a victory for the Standard Model, this in no way "proves" the Big Bang, which is still riddled with enormous theoretical difficulties.
Landau, E. Scientists more certain that particle is Higgs boson. CNN. Posted online March 16, 2013.
Heilprin, J. Higgs Boson Discovery Confirmed After Physicists Review Large Hadron Collider Data at CERN. The Huffington Post. Posted online March 14, 2013.
Hebert, J. The Higgs Boson and the Big Bang. Acts & Facts. 41 (9): 11-13.
Guth, A. Did the Universe Have a Beginning? Eternal Inflation: Introduction Cosmic Questions Smithsonian Institution Debate. Couterbalance. Accessed March 18, 2013.
Steinhardt, P. The Inflation Debate. Scientific American. 304 (4): 36-43.
Krauss, L. What is the Higgs boson and why does it matter? NewScientist. Posted online December 13, 2011.
Falk, D. Canadian physicist Robert Orr on the Big Bang breakthrough. The Globe and Mail. Posted online July 6, 2012.
Moskowitz, C. What should 'God Particle' Be Renamed? Physicists Weigh In. LiveScience. Posted online December 14, 2011.
Kaku, M. The Spark That Caused the Big Bang. The Wall Street Journal. Posted online July 5, 2012. What is a Higgs Boson? Physicist Michio Kaku responds. YouTube video, 2:47, CNN. Posted online July 4, 2012.
* Dr. Hebert is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Texas at Dallas.
Article posted on March 22, 2013.
Image from article.
dr sheldon cooper is impressed.
Ok. That was a really really dumbed down explanation. But given the complexity of the subject matter, I’m not surprised.
Every solution the ego develops is merely another problem. The whole universe is an illusion. Get over it.
Are we still “here”? Did we get sucked into a black hole?
Fairytail for grown-ups.
But nicely done. My quandry is with the multiverse. If our universe is the product of same it seems to me we must return to the original task, the origin of the multiverse. It is one and the same issue. As are a multitude of universes, unknowable except in the most theoretical sense. The very idea is akin to the conundrum, “Can we both exist and not exist simultaneously”? Thyere is by definition no way to test the syllogism.
“how the Big Bang created something out of nothing”
Then the “Big Bang” was the creator. That’s what it says.
Sorry bud. the “Big Bang” is not a sufficient explanation for the existence of the universe. If there was a “Big Bang” (there wasn’t) then the “Big Bang” was what happened to the universe after it came into existence.
Other ludicrous theories: “The universe pops in and out of existence.”
“there is a multiverse and our universe is but one of many”
Does this mean Obama is going to get another Nobel Prize?
As you are undoubtedly gathering, the anomaly's systemic, creating fluctuations in even the most simplistic equations.
I would guess that the number of serious physicists (not armchair phyicists or those with a political agenda) who believe that proof of the existance of the Higgs boson is the “death knell of Christianity” can be counted on two hands.
OTOH, there are probably even less serious physicists who believe in Young Earth theories.
Most simply appreciate the advancement of the science through the confirmation of a theory.
“dr sheldon cooper is impressed.”
Hawking disproved Cooper’s theory. Simple math error. Sort of like the Nork Nuke program. They estimated the US mainland was 4000 kilometers away. They should have calculated for miles.
Every solution the ego develops is merely another problem. The whole universe is an illusion. Get over it.
We could just be living in a simulated universe running on god’s desk....
Let’s see the math on your proof.
I just want them to tell me where the Big Bang came from.
Stopped reading here. Major red flags. What other kind of physicist is there?
Scientists attribute our existence to the Higg’s field because it is through its interaction with particles that mass emerges. No mass, no matter, no stars, no planets, no chemistry, no biology, no people. I don’t believe it was ever considered part of inflation theory.
The Big Bang theory of cosmology is accepted by scientists because they have satellite pictures of it taken shortly after it took place. The light has been distorted somewhat over 13.7 billion years but its quite measurable. Scientists call it the surface of last scattering or Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB).
They were able to measure the CMB temperature and found that it was nearly identical everywhere. This was a problem because it was too widely dispersed in space to have allowed the temperature to equalize over such a large region. Alan Guth figured this could be explained if it had started out much smaller and expanded rapidly. He calculated the expansion rate and called this inflation theory. Later scientists confirmed that his theory agreed with the CMB temperature maps they had made using the WMAP satellite.
In quantum theory anything that isn’t forbidden must occur. If inflation happened once it must be an eternal process creating multiple universes with various physical laws. In some of these conscious beings have evolved to appreciate their good fortune.
I’ve done quite a bit of work in quality, 6-sigma, auditing, and manufacturing. One of the issues I’ve repeatedly found with our engineers when delivering new things is that they don’t understand or apply gage repeatability and reproducibility when developing so when it gets to the floor we have to ask for changes to meet what the process can actually achieve and measure.
As a Physics major I cannot recall one time conducting GRR in a lab and most of the scientists I studied with or worked with later in life were remiss to spend costly lab time doing it either.
The only reason I bring this up is that I’m starting to wonder if some of the “unknowns” that we still have aren’t actually accounted for by the measurement process variation. If this variability failed to be taken into account in the core science (not in regards to heisenberg either) it would have significant impact to what is being said or assumed.
“It’s turtles all the way down, mister!”
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.