Posted 27 August 2011, by Jude Cavale, Walyou, walyou.com
Physics started out as a branch of philosophy, back in the ancient times. Even today, you can’t really separate science from philosophy no matter how hard you try.
The hypotheses that we make, before carrying out the actual research to reach conclusions have deep roots in ‘logic’ which again is an important philosophical term. With that in mind, physics as a branch of science or ‘pure sciences’ has had the privilege to make establishment-recognized attempts to explain what matter is, what it is not, and how matter actually came to exist. Some of the theories have been particularly useful, and there is no point in discrediting the amazing amount of research that takes place within the venerable physics labs. However, when you observe research in physics from an outsider’s point of view, you would be flabbergasted either because you do not understand most of what the introverted and intellectual physicists are talking about, and most of what they are NOT talking about.
Physicists have the sort of self worth which tends to veer towards an assumed responsibility for objectivity without actually questioning themselves sometimes. If you are studying the dark matter and nobody around you understand what it actually could be, of course you would begin to feed yourself worth to an extent that it might warp your own reality testing. Stephen Hawking is more famous for the controversial and sometimes sensational comments which he makes. They are not just entertaining, but sometimes almost feel prophetic. He communicates through a device as he is completely paralysed. You could read about Eyewriter Tech Concept, which is used by handicapped people like him to communicate.
Many years ago, Mr. Hawking placed a public bet that the LHC (Large Hadron Collider) would never find the ‘God Particle’. The ‘God Particle’ also known as the Higgs boson is believed to be responsible for diffusing massive particles with their mass when the Universe was more youthful. In other words, the Higgs boson (though never indentified in the lab, or though nobody has actually confirmed its existence) became part of a meta-narrative that physicists used to explain the creation of the Universe. Stories from the Old Testament do just that: try to present the story of the creation of matter and Universe, in a rather unsophisticated manner without a lab.
In fact, every theory that tries to explain the story of Universe (Do we even know what Universe really is, or are we just making assumptions that Universe could be measured?), ends up being a postmodernist’s meta-narrative. Meta-narratives over-generalize bits and pieces of truths, and leave the skeletal theories to be fleshed up by assumptions, arguments and faith. Let me give you a few examples of meta-narratives that tend to ‘ex-plain’ everything: psychoanalysis, Marxism, evolutionary theories, religions, and I could go on. So, the God Particle, or the Higgs boson was assumed to exist, but that we didn’t have enough hardware or lab equipment to run the Large Hadron Collider, which is the world’s largest and highest energy particle accelerator.
It was assumed that when the LHC was run for a considerably long amount of time, it would answer the fundamental questions of physics and even help us understand the deepest laws of nature. Many polls in fact showed that most physicists believed that Higgs boson was a foregone conclusion and when the LHC was run, the God particle would show up, dazzling the global physics community and add another feather to their cap by explaining the creation of Universe and ‘matter’. Thus, Higgs boson attempted to create yet another meta-narrative about the creation of matter, but this time in a sophisticated lab. Higgs boson never showed up.
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, India is one of the foremost institutes of pure sciences in that part of the world. At the Biennial International Symposium on Lepton-Photon Interactions held on the 22nd of August at the Tata Institute, CERN scientists declared that from the 145 to 466 billion electron volts of energy that the Large Hadron Collider had explored, (in other words, entire range of energy), Higgs is excluded with a probability measure of 95%. This means, 95% chances are there that the Higgs boson doesn’t exist. Stephen Hawkins’ bet that LHC would never find the God particle was a prophecy that has come true, in some ways.
Scottish physicist Peter Higgs whose name got attached to the God particle was so offended that he took the bet by Mr. Hawking as a question of his own very existence. He lamented that to question the existence of the God Particle or Higgs boson was “like criticizing the late Princess Diana.” Hmm, physicists can get touchy too. Anyway, that’s beside the point. The latest research announced a few days ago at the Biennial International Symposium on Lepton-Photon Interactions suggests that there is a 5% probability in which we can try and find the elusive God particle.
The places for the God particle to hide are being numbered, and soon, there may be no place at all, resulting in a sort of postmodern nostalgia. Dr. Lois Shawver, a postmodern therapist describes postmodern nostalgia as a feeling where you lose your previously held beliefs, but are not strong enough to deal with the world without your old and questionable beliefs. Though you would not go back to believing what has been proven wrong, you would feel a lot of ‘postmodern nostalgia’ towards the theories you once assumed were true. One of the ways that we can treat postmodern nostalgia is to start being skeptical. Stephen Hawking is one of the most skeptical persons that you could come across. Skepticism helps.
It is this skepticism that makes science what science is. If we believe in assumptions of God Particle or Higgs boson or various other assumptions seen in physics labs and other scientific labs, chances are everyday a new PhD scholar is writing thesis material based on meta-narratives and assumptions that over-generalize simple truths and try to explain profound and deeper secrets of life, time and space which humans may not even have the capability of understanding.
I can bet, Stephen Hawking is chuckling away at a tavern, and bitching about ‘staunch physicists’ who make science a meta-narrative by assuming, over-generalizing and concluding that hypotheses can be true without even confirming the same in a lab. Meanwhile, Peter Higgs and his cronies might be licking their wounds, or struck by a postmodern nostalgia for the God Particle. They can seek Dr. Shawver’s help to treat their postmodern nostalgia. Of course, losing redundant, meta-narrative-ish beliefs and being enlightened cannot be ‘cured’ as Dr. Shawver points out.