Thursday 5 July 2012

Working in Montréal today --Boson Buddies

Good morning folks,

I am working in Montréal today.

About a day ago scientists at CERN announced that they have detected the Higgs Boson particle.  You probably heard that.  You probably did not hear that the announcement was made in the font, Comic Sans.  That's right kids, the same font used in comic books read by nerds the world over was used to convey this exciting news.

Holy Lepton Batman!  Have you heard of those nerds that have found God?  Now Now Robin, what they have found wasn't God, but merely the specific Boson that provides for mass in an otherwise massless Standard Model.

Boson? What's a boson Batman?  Well a boson is like a force, or a field.   You've seen forces like electromagnetism, strong atomic bond, weak atomic fields, well the Higgs field is just like one of them, but it sort of gives drag to particles trying to fly through it, but not all particles, those godless, I mean massless, photons and gluons pass through without any interaction, but all else gets weighted down.  Simple Robin?

Not really Batman, what is the Standard Model?  Jeez Robin, did you fall asleep when we were in that alternate reality when Superman killed my son?  Um.. Batman.. That is a really obscure reference from more than 35 years ago and I wasn't even in that timeline.

Oh.  Well the Standard Model is a beautiful mathematical equation and when applied correctly has 19 parameters that predict the way that matter interacts.  The problem has been that the physical properties that would allow for interaction with the theorized Higgs field was up to now was not possible with the previously discovered particles.  Got it?

Sort of Batman.. So the Higgs Boson is the sort of oar in the water.  Hey, not bad Robin.  Any other questions?  Sure Batman, is the Higgs Boson what allowed the Xenomorph in the last Alien franchise movie to gain a tremendous amount of mass in an otherwise closed room in what.. an hour since it was extracted from the heroine's abdomen?

No Robin.  Nothing explains that.

But Batman, in the second movie weren't we educated that the Xenomorphs were able to absorb energy from things like the lights and they were all gravitating towards the station reactor, couldn't they convert the energy to matter, like an atomic explosion but in reverse?

Sure but consider that a very small amount of matter gets converted to an extreme amount of energy in such an explosion, so in reverse you would need an extreme amount of energy to make even a small amount of matter.  Robin you will recall that there was just a few ceiling lights and that medical device in the room.  Those lights would have to burn for a few billion years in order to release enough energy to make the Xenomorph grow that big.

Oh.. So it was like.. Cartoon physics?  Yes Robin, and that's really all we ever have.

But wait Batman, what about Dark Matter and the apparent inconsistencies between the Standard Model and Einstein's Gravity, and what about a reconciliation between String Theory and General Relativity?

Robin Robin Robin, this is only a quick email written during a short flight between bites of my breakfast and sips of my coffee.

Have a good day.  Interact when possible.


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