Monday, August 6, 2012

The Higgs and Creation

The "discovery" of the Higgs boson in July was hailed by many - finally, the "God" particle - and understood, assimilated into our understanding of the universe and creation by who?  To the community of physicists, it seemed to "explain" the universe, why it is here, why it is something rather than just eternally careening photons of energy.

In an excellent piece in ScienceNews, Tom Siegfried offers one of the most lucid explanations of what the Higgs is all about.  It's not so much the particle as the Higgs field itself.  In the first trillionth second or so after the Big Bang, everything was the same non-thing, speeding around at the speed of light.  Then the expanding universe cooled enough for the Higgs field to manifest itself.  When it did, it caught some of those careening non-things in its net.  The Higgs field slowed these down, subjected them to resistance, made them move as if they were plowing through a field of thick molasses.  They experienced inertia - thereby gaining mass - and became things, the elemental particles of which matter is made.  The others that were not affected by the Higgs field continued on their way as photons traveling at the speed of light.  The Higgs field, in other words, called forth from light the material universe.  Pretty cool, eh?

And there's more to it.  When the Higgs manifested itself with the (relative) cooling of the universe, there sprang up not just one kind of particle but a whole menagerie of them.  Each kind affected by the Higgs field to a different degree, therefore having differing masses.  Without this differentiation, there would be no real physics or chemistry.  Therefore no suns, planets or life.  In other words, from the moment of the Big Bang whatever was in the expanding blob of energy that was the universe was already imprinted with that which would be manifested as all the kinds of particles and forces of which we know (and probably some we don't know as yet).  The moment the Higgs field grabbed them, they became what they were to be.

This is quite a lot to consider.  But still there is more.  None of this so far explains gravity, dark matter or dark energy.  What about particles with mass also leads to gravity being able to warp time and space?  Where are the particles with mass - though apparently very little individually, as if barely caught by Higgs - that make up dark matter?  And what is that energy that seems to operate on large scales counter to gravity?  What is that dark energy all about anyway?

One can say that we are like dogs in relation to the works of man when we try to grasp what it all means.  Dogs just don't have the capacity to understand man or how we create the world they live in.  And we can't really understand why something exists rather than nothing.  Chalk it up to ramdoness, just fluctuations in the vacuum.

But this bears further thought.  What can we say about creation?  1. It happened. 2. It apparently happened according to laws written into the act - or moment, if you're shy - that would determine what manifested and when. 3. It produced a universe that allowed the development of life and manifestation of consciousness.

My Dad was a truck driver and never graduated grammar school.  He'd look up at the night sky and ask me how I could believe it's just accidental.

A lawful act of creation would imply what? Or as God said to Job:

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding....
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone?

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