Article Title
Article Title

Finding God

by Josh Zeisel

Hey everyone! Guess what! We discovered God! No, Rick Perry, not that God from the bible who you think controls everything all the time and hates gay people (even though all people were created in his image). We discovered the “God” Particle, the Higgs Boson. What is the Higgs Boson, you ask? Well, it’s the last fundamental particle in the Standard Model of Particle Physics.

Recently, the Large Hadron Collider, the particle accelerator that everyone thought would create a black hole and destroy the earth, did what it was built to in only a year. But who cares, right? I mean, we spent years and billions of dollars attempting to detect a particle that only exists for about a trillionth of a second before it recombines with other fundamental particles to create protons or neutrons. Well, once we understand the interactions of the particles that make up the Standard Model, that’ll lead us into creating experiments to study more advanced, higher energy states of matter and creating science fact from what is currently believed to be science fiction.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was built to accelerate particles to near the speed of light. When I say “near the speed of light,” I mean only 3 meters per second slower than the speed of light. (Usain Bolt, the world record holder in the 100m and 200m sprint, runs around 10 meters per second.) The LHC does this through the use of magnetism. Since protons have a positive charge they can interact with a magnetic field. If this magnetic field was powerful enough, it can accelerate a beam of protons to near the speed of light. The LHC also utilizes magnets to contain the beam and focus it. It does this in a loop that is 27 miles around. The LHC is that massive because it takes a couple of trips around to reach the speeds that are required to see God.

The scientists turned this massive electromagnet on and created a collision between two beams of protons. As the protons collide they break into their pieces, the fundamental particles that make up the protons. Detectors record the particles paths and energies for later review by the physicists. The particles don’t last long. Most fundamental particles are unstable (mainly by their electric charge, positive and negative) and recombine with neighboring particles in a matter of a billionth of a second. The energies and particle paths show that we probably have discovered the Higgs Boson, but of course the physicists want to make sure the data is correct. The most promising aspect in all of this is that two detectors, operated by two different groups of scientist, both found evidence that the particle exists.

For a physicist -- and those fans of physics -- this means that the Standard Model is complete. The Standard Model explains the different interactions between particles ranging from gravity to magnetism to electromagnetism. The Higgs Boson is the particle that explains mass. This phrase to me explains why I’m an engineer and not a physicist: I can’t understand how a particle creates mass because to me you can always get a smaller piece of something, even something that seems infinitesimally small.

Since I don’t have a clue as to what this physically means I won’t try to explain such a phenomena. Instead we’ll just move on to what all this means for the future and why it’s important to humanity.

With the Standard Model complete and proved, our modern Einsteins can move on to explaining the 83% of the rest of the world. It’s theorized that 83% of the universe is made of dark matter. Dark matter does not scatter light or emit radiation like most things. Even humans do those things; we reflect the light so we can see colors and shapes and emit radiation in the form of heat from our body. But we are made of good ol’ fashioned regular matter. Dark matter is sort of the opposite of “light” matter. It is conjectured that dark matter explains the speed of rotation of galaxies, the lensing effect of background objects by galaxies (due to the gravitational affects of galaxies, light is bent and we can see around a galaxy to what is behind it, like looking through a pair of glasses from afar, or how a straw seems to be broken when it enters water) and many other universal affects.

We can also conduct experiments that deal with anti-matter. It is believed that that an antihydrogen particle is made of a positron and an antiproton (a positron has a charge of +1, the opposite of an electron, -1 while an antiproton has a charge of -1, the opposite of a proton, +1). You may say, “Hey the proton and electron just switched places,” but that’s not the case. The positron is made of the anti-fundamental particles that an electron is made of as the antiproton is made of the anti-fundamental particles the proton is made of. When anti-matter and matter meet, they “destroy” each other. They don’t actually destroy each other because as we know, you cannot create or destroy matter, but you can turn matter into energy.

What this means for the common person is almost nothing. Yet, since almost doesn’t fully count, the most important thing that the common person can learn from these experiments is that science is based on facts. Scientists try to explain what we see by first writing down what they see and trying to explain it without the use of equations. When that does not work, equations come in to play. Math is a powerful tool because theories can be proven by its inherent rationtality. The Standard Model was developed before these experiments were made. The fact that the Higgs Boson was theorized before it was discovered shows that the math was done correctly and it was only a matter of time through advancements in technology until we could see the physical proof that it does in fact exist.

When scientists make statements and theories about what they study, it’s probably based on math, experimentation, or clear observations. And as the Higgs Boson proves, the math, if done correctly, is bound to be true. And that explains why scientists don’t like to make assumptions, because we all know what happens when you assume....

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Josh Zeisel is a professional mechanical engineer and graduate of Boston University. His favorite meal is a chicken parm sub and an orange soda. On clear sunny days you might look up and find him flying something. Strike up a conversation with Josh at josh.zeisel[at]