IndisCERNible

The ATLAS particle detector

The ATLAS particle detector, one of four huge detectors at CERN's Large Hadron Collider.

Mar 01, 2012

The so-called “god particle” is most likely an illusion.

The idea of a Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was originally proposed early in the 1980s. Since the Large Electron Positron Collider (LEP) was at the end of its life, and a machine capable of generating more power was needed, a 20 nation consortium, all members of CERN (Conseil Europeen pour la Recherche Nucleaire), started design work in 1994.

The LHC straddles the border between Switzerland and France, occupying a 27 kilometer long, circular tunnel. Its electromagnets force protons into a narrow beam, split it in two, and then send the two streams of charged particles around the ring in opposite directions, causing the twin beams to collide head on.

Although the LHC was built to carry out a number of experiments, most particle physicists will admit that the $10 billion was spent to find the Higgs boson.

Physicists postulate that matter is built from twelve fundamental particles, six quarks and six leptons. Note that protons and neutrons are not considered “fundamental,” since they are made of quarks. Quarks are defined as elementary particles with electric charges one-third or two-thirds that of the electron. Leptons are a group of elementary particles (and antiparticles), such as electrons, muons, or neutrinos that are affected by electromagnetic and weak interactions.

According to the standard theory of quantum mechanics, quarks are “colored” and “flavored,” but a detailed explanation of those fields of influence is not germane to this account. The quark flavors are up, down, bottom, top, strange, and charm. Each of the six quark flavors can have three different colors, red, green, or blue. The lepton table includes the electron, electron-neutrino, muon, muon-neutrino, tau, and tau-neutrino. The muon and the tau leptons are not stable, however, and quickly decay.

While leptons are thought to participate in weak atomic interactions, other particles such as mesons, baryons, and hadrons are more massive and are affected by strong force influences. Quantum mechanics proposes that there are four forces at work in nature: the strong force, which holds atomic nuclei together; the electromagnetic force, which holds atoms and molecules together; the weak force, which governs radioactive decay; and the gravitational force, which attracts matter to itself in an inverse square relationship over infinite distance.

According to nuclear physicists, a “force” is more like an exchange. When the strong force binds an atomic nucleus together, for example, the particles exchange “carrier particles,” called bosons. Each force requires its own boson. It is the photon that supposedly carries the electromagnetic force, and “gluons” carry the strong force. An ongoing problem for physicists is the detection of “gravitons” that supposedly carry the gravitational force.

In 1964, Peter Higgs speculated that space is permeated by a “field,” similar to an electromagnetic field. When particles travel through space, they encounter this field, acquiring “mass.” The concept can be illustrated by particles moving through a viscous fluid: the greater interaction of particles with the field, the greater their mass. The existence of the Higgs field is an essential component of his hypothesis.

As previously mentioned, quantum theory requires that fields be associated with carrier particles, so the expectation is that there must be a particle carrying the Higgs field: the Higgs boson. For the last few years, LHC’s focus has been to “find” the Higgs boson and determine if this mass origin hypothesis is correct.

Recently, physicists announced that LHC had shown hints that the Higgs-Boson was “real.” However, experiments in the 145 billion to 466 billion electron volt range have excluded the boson’s existence. As Dmitri Denisov of Fermilab said: “We do not see the signal. If it existed, we would see it. But when we look at our data, we basically see nothing.”

Electric Universe advocates propose that the entire quantum mechanical universe requires a new viewpoint. Since it is the electric force that governs the cosmos, the behavior, origin, and structure of matter needs to be revised. One of the most interesting aspects of this premise is the clues that exist within quantum mechanics, itself.

Plasma’s electrical and physical properties are scalable over many orders of magnitude. Laboratory experiments can model what is observed in space. Gravity’s force falls off with the square of the distance, while the attraction between electrified plasma filaments is linear and up to 39 orders of magnitude greater than gravity. Looking at the four hypothetical quantum forces, it can be seen that the strong force is also 39 orders of magnitude greater than gravity. Perhaps that relationship is better explained with the electric force.

Virtual models operating within computer algorithms have replaced direct observation in recent years: the natural philosophy of science has been abandoned. Computer models are used to build other models, which, in turn, are used to “confirm” further models. Physics used to mean investigating the nature and properties of matter and energy. Instead, it has become the handmaiden to mathematics.

Stephen Smith

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