|Standard Model diagram of particles (TriTertButoxy, Public Domain)|
According to a recent news item flashed around the world, scientists at CERN, using the Large Hadron Collider, say they have confirmed the existence of a previously hypothesized particle officially called the Higgs boson but colloquially referred to as the ‘God particle’. If confirmed subsequently by repeated experimentation, this would be a major accomplishment for science. Some might claim that confirmation of the existence of the ‘God particle’ is also confirmation of the non-existence of God, but a careful examination of the situation reveals that just the opposite is true.
What is the ‘God particle’?
The ‘God particle’, officially the Higgs boson, is one of the elementary particles in the Standard Model of elementary particle physics—see box.
The one force not heretofore theoretically explained by the Standard Model is the force of gravity. This is, perhaps, partly due to the fact that the Standard Model did not have a theoretical explanation for the mass—or lack thereof—of its particles and mass is, of course, fundamental to the force of gravity. The best theoretical explanation of the force of gravity is still Einstein’s General Relativity in which gravity is considered to be the distortion of the fabric of space by the mass of an object—like a bowling ball distorting a trampoline. However, this too does not explain the occurrence of mass.
Enter the Higgs boson