Via “’God particle’ answer expected by end of 2012” (CBC News, Jul 25, 2011), we learn that “Recent possible glimpses of Higgs boson may be statistical errors”:
Scientists hoping to puzzle out how the universe began will find a long-sought theoretical particle — or rule out that it exists — by the end of 2012, the director of the world’s largest atom smasher predicted Monday.
The Higgs boson isn’t just any particle. It’s sometimes referred to as the “God particle” because it’s the linchpin of the Standard Model of particle physics theory that explains the Big Bang. The Higgs boson is believed to answer a fundamental question about why matter has mass, as the particle itself is thought to give mass to other particles, and, by extension, bigger objects in the universe.
Hmm. Many of us have been given to understand that the Big Bang was confirmed by readings of the cosmic microwave background and similar findings, and is not subject to the test of discovering a Higgs boson:
Then in 1965 came an unexpected discovery. Two physicists at AT&T Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, accidentally discovered the cosmic microwave background (CMB). This is the background radiation that is assumed to be left over from the Big Bang. It spreads out as space expands in all directions, at a temperature just a little below three degrees above absolute zero., p. 19
[ … ]
In 1990, NASA’s Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite made more accurate measurements. The atmosphere was tense as scientists gathered at the Goddard Space Flight Center near Washington, D.C., to hear the numbers read out. The numbers vindicated the Big Bang beautifully, … (p. 20)
Where then was the Higgs boson?
If the boson isn’t found, is the Big Bang in doubt? Or just the boson? The science commentariat’s response will tell us a lot about how they feel about the Big Bang.
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