Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Who The Hell Is This Higgs Anyway?

When I was young, I loved looking at the stars. Not unusual I know, but at one point I even thought about a career in astronomy.  That brief desire lasted until I realized just how... scientific astronomy is. It's physics and mathematics and some other stuff that probably ends with ics as well. Around 3rd grade is about when I realized I was better at the English language than I was with any subject dealing with adding, subtracting or theorizing.

Over the years, I would try to watch these scientific programs on the Discovery channel about the formation of the universe. Fascinating... for the first five minutes until my eyes would glaze over. Now, I consider myself to be somewhat intelligent (let's not bicker about exactly to what degree) and try as I might, I cannot understand what the hell they are talking about. For the longest time, I thought it was just me. Then I started asking friends who were watching these shows with me. "Interesting isn't it," I would ask. "Yes" they would always answer. But when I asked if they understood what they had just watched...aha, the answer would usually be "well, not really."  The defense rests.

Which brings me to today. Several times during the day I have heard the name Higgs Boson. Now I was pretty busy all day and I just assumed something had occurred and this was a person involved in an event. Out of the happens to me all the time. Then the name started showing up in twitter jokes, and it was trending on twitter. Think it might be time to google it.

According to Wikipedia...

"The Higgs boson is an elementary particle within the Standard Model of particle physics. It belongs to a class of particles known as bosons. On July 4, 2012, CERN announced the formal confirmation that a particle "consistent with the Higgs boson" exists, since its signature was detected in the data with a very small probability of 0.00003% (five sigma) of being produced by random fluctuations; however, particle physicists still need to verify that it is indeed the expected boson and not some other, possibly undiscovered, particle."

Well alright then. I definitely found out what the definition means. 

It means I am on a need to know basis, and I am definitely not geeky enough to need to know. Chalk it up to genetics, too many years out of the educational system or to all those brain cells I destroyed prematurely. Whatever the reason, there is no way I will ever understand what this Higgs boson thing is, or what it means to the world. And frankly, I really don't care.

Now, I did what a journalist should do, I researched. Yes I know I only looked at the Wiki definition...not exactly research. But just like Clint said "you have to know your limitations." I know mine and when the first sentence of the definition has my head spinning, well no need to dig any deeper.

Curiosity satisfied, I can now ignore all tweets and emails about Higgs. And I'll be laughing when I hear discussions about how important a discovery this is...blah, blah, blah. I may just feel the need to stick my two cents in and ask, "But do you understand it?"

Don't think it will be my eyes glazing over this time.


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