Particle Fever: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Large Hadron Collider
Particle physicists came to a fork in the road after 40 years of theorizing about the Higgs Boson particle, aka the “God Particle,” with one possibility being a universe of supersymmetry, that is, “increasing beauty, simplicity, symmetry” or a multiverse, that is “chaos on enormous distances.” The deciding factor was the mass of the Higgs Boson particle, specifically, 115 GeV for supersymmetry and 140 GeV for a multiverse.
One of the most basic facts about the universe is that it’s big. So, you might wonder, why is the universe big? There’s actually a single number, called the cosmological constant, that plays a crucial role in determining what the universe looks like. In fact, around ten years ago, astronomers discovered a really remarkable fact: The universe is getting bigger and bigger at a faster and faster rate, but this rate is a million, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion times slower than what we would actually predict. When you’re off by a factor of a million, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion, billion, there’s something very wrong with your understanding of basic physics. Even worse, this one number, the cosmological constant, needs to have this extremely precise value, and if the value is different even by a tiny bit, we would radically change what the world looks like around us. If you saw a situation where the parameter has a very dangerous value, if you changed it a little bit, the world would change radically. We’d be dead. We couldn’t possibly live. You would wonder where that came from, you know, how is that possible? So, just on the face of it, you would look at the situation and say, wow, someone really cared to put this parameter at just the right value so that we get to be here and that it’s a pleasant universe… and really cares a lot. This is the sort of thing that really keeps you up at night. It really makes you wonder, maybe we’ve got something about the whole picture, the big picture, totally, totally, totally wrong.
In the multiverse theory, the numbers that permit life are totally random and accidental, most of the universe is lethal, and we can’t ever hope to understand the laws of physics — “in a sense, it’s the end of physics.”
Supersymmetry could still be true, but it would have to be a very strange version of the theory. And if it’s the multiverse, well, other universes would be amazing, of course, but it could also mean no other new particles discovered. And then the Higgs, with a mass of 125, is right at a critical point for the fate of our universe. Without any other new particles, that Higgs is unstable. It’s temporary. And since the Higgs holds everything together, if the Higgs goes, everything goes. It’s amazing that the Higgs, the center of the standard model, the thing we’ve all been looking for, could also be the things that destroys everything. The creator and the destroyer. But we could discover new particles, and then none of that would be true. And anyway, we have something to do.
The Higgs Boson particle, called the “God Particle” because it seems to be the foundation for everything that exists and because it is difficult to detect, serves as a reminder of some important spiritual concepts (the ignorance of which may be keeping some physicists up night):
[The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love… He is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]… For it was in Him that all things were created… all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him… He Himself existed before all things, and in Him all things consist (cohere, are held together)… He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, so that He alone in everything and in every respect might occupy the chief place [stand first and be preeminent]… God purposed that through (by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself… (from Colossians 1, AMP)
*All quotes, except from Colossians, are from Particle Fever