Why Higgs Discovery Deserves the Hype

Physicists using the Large Hadron Collider announced yesterday their discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson. The find was expected, but it's still a big deal.

Compact Muon Solenoid
A view through the heart of the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS), one of the experiments used to detect the Higgs boson. The CMS detects protons smashed together with energies of 7 trillion electron volts.
STFC
Yesterday’s big news story about the discovery of a “Higgs-like particle” at Europe’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is about as surprising as astronomers finding a new exoplanet. A lot of experts have been expecting this Higgs discovery ever since LHC scientists presented preliminary evidence for the particle last year, and optimism was bolstered when researchers at Fermilab in the U.S. unveiled results that are consistent with those at the LHC.

But even if yesterday’s announcement was widely expected, it’s still a big deal, and I won’t be surprised if July 4, 2012, goes down in history as a landmark date in the human quest to understand the universe.

Finding a particle with properties similar to those predicted for the Higgs boson is strong indication that our best theory for understanding the origin of mass is on the right track. “Mass” is one of the fundamental properties in the universe, and we owe our very existence to the fact that gravity can gather lots of particles with mass into large structures. This enables a variety of physical and chemical processes to organize those particles into complex structures such as galaxies, stars, planets, and people. Without mass, the universe would consist of a boring sea of elementary particles whizzing around at light speed but not doing anything interesting. If a species of intelligent creatures wants to understand how the universe works, it must attain an understanding of the origin of mass.

According to a theory developed by Peter Higgs and five other physicists in the early 1960s, particles acquire mass by interacting with a field (the Higgs field) that permeates all of space. Particles such as top quarks that interact strongly with this field have a high mass; those that interact weakly (such as electrons and neutrinos) have low mass. Massless particles such as photons don’t interact with the Higgs field at all. And just as an electromagnetic field has an associated particle (the photon), so does the Higgs field. As predicted in the early 1960s, if experimentalists could ever collide particles together with just the right amount of energy, the Higgs field would essentially spit out its own particle — the Higgs boson.

ATLAS / Large Hadron Collider
This section was mounted close to the heart of the ATLAS experiment to detect the path of particles produced in proton-proton collisions. ATLAS was also involved in the Higgs boson detection.
CERN
The theory also predicts that the Higgs boson will decay almost instantaneously into a shower of elementary particles. This is what the LHC actually detected. After studying more than a trillion near-light-speed particle collisions at the LHC over the past several years, the lab’s two detectors (ATLAS and CMS) saw a slight excess of decay events at an energy of about 125 billion electron volts, or GeV for short. For comparison, a proton’s energy is about 1 GeV, meaning the Higgs boson is 125 times more massive than a proton. Theory didn’t predict a specific mass for the Higgs boson, but the measured mass is well within the range of what physicists expected.

According to LHC officials, there’s only about 1 chance in 3 million that the excess events at 125 GeV are a statistical fluke, assuming there are no systematic errors. (In the language of science, this makes it a 5-sigma detection.) People who run physics labs don’t want to end up with eggs splattered on their faces, so I have a very high level of confidence that the LHC team’s claims will stand the test of time. The fact that Fermilab also saw an excess signal around 125 GeV should give the public additional confidence in the discovery.

I’m not a particle physicist, but I read a lot about the field and have interviewed a number of experts over the years. For me, this is the take-home message of yesterday’s announcement:

  • Understanding the origin of mass is fundamental to understanding the nature of the universe, so this new result gives me a lot of confidence that we’re heading in the right direction. With all the weird stuff in relativity and quantum mechanics, physicists sometimes sound a tad bit crazy. But they can’t be too crazy.
  • It’s yet another demonstration of the predictive power of science. For more than a century, physicists have done a remarkable job of seeing patterns and relationships in known particles to predict new particles, and then creating them in laboratories.

    Here’s just a short list of particles that physicists have successfully predicted: neutrons, positrons, antiprotons, neutrinos, W bosons, Z bosons, gluons, six different types of quarks, and now Higgs bosons. This track record demonstrates the power of the human intellect to probe nature at a deep level.

  • In all likelihood, the discovery will point the way to new physics. Note that the LHC scientists called the 125-GeV particle a “Higgs-like particle.” The reason for their caution is that some theories predict more than one type of Higgs particle. The LHC will continue smashing particles, and will eventually crank up the energy of these collisions to twice the current level. This might bust open entirely new particles — perhaps other types of Higgs particles, perhaps particles responsible for dark matter, or perhaps something completely unexpected.

It’s this latter possibility that’s most tantalizing. For years, physicists have been finding particles predicted by their so-called Standard Model. But given the fact we have yet to identify the nature of dark matter and dark energy, and the fact we can’t reconcile general relativity with quantum mechanics, we know there’s a lot of important stuff going on in the universe beyond the Standard Model. Learning more about the particle announced yesterday (or finding new types of Higgs bosons) will rule out some theories and bolster others, enabling physicists to focus their collective mental energy on the most productive avenues of inquiry. That will lead to progress.

One final comment. It did not escape my attention that the mostly European LHC team made this announcement on July 4th. If the U.S. Congress had continued funding the Superconducting Super Collider in the 1990s, yesterday’s discovery would have been made a decade ago, and most of the glory would have gone to American scientists.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad to see the science get done. But Congress dropped the ball on a cutting-edge scientific project that barely made a dent in the federal budget, and for a long time to come we can expect the most important discoveries in physics to be made in other countries. University of Michigan physicist Gordon Kane also reminded me that if the U.S. Department of Energy had given Fermilab more funding, the Higgs discovery could have been made several years ago right here in the good ol’ U.S.A.

43 thoughts on “Why Higgs Discovery Deserves the Hype

  1. coolstar

    Kudos to the more than 5000 men and women around the world who contributed to the discovery of the Higgs boson. However, I couldn’t care less that it was done at CERN and not in the U.S. The SSC was RIGHTLY stopped by the U.S. Congress since it had been oversold (tremendously) with Nobel prize winners (Weinberg comes to mind) outright LYING to Congress about it’s practical benefits, such as in treating cancer. The U.S. particle physics got what it deserved with it’s cancellation.

  2. Paul Vondra

    Thank you for this article. the best I have seen so far today for explaining what this is all about and what the significance of it is. And you didn’t once stoop to calling it "the God Particle." I am recommending it and emailing it to others. And your pointed reminder of the rejection of the SSC in the 90s is much needed.

  3. Paul Vondra

    Added after reading Coolstar’s comment. In political context of the time (1993) it was either the International Space station or the Super-Collider. The station won. I think our country would have been better served if the choice had gone the other way. Certainly, SCIENCE would have been better served!

  4. Bruce Mayfield

    Paul, I couldn’t agree more with your first comment. Everything you said about the superiority of Robert Naeye’s article is so true! He tells us what we need/want to know about this important discovery and calls it what it is, the Higgs Boson. I’m sick of all this talk of the “God Particle.” What a ridiculous, unscientifically meaningful moniker! What are people thinking in calling it that? To my mind, both the atheistic and those who believe in God should be repulsed by the expression. Now we may need to watch out for rise of particle worshiping Higgs Bosonite cults.:)

  5. Phil

    I have no regrets over the cancellation of the SSC. It is absurd for one country to spend so much money by itself, all for a day or two of national "glory" (as if the general public even notices). I’m not saying that Big Science shouldn’t be done — I’m saying that it should always be an internationally funded cooperative project. Big particle colliders like the LHC (or SSC), returning to the Moon, going to Mars, even just racking up Frequent Flyer Miles in a space station; should not be borne on the backs of one nation’s taxpayers. If scientific knowledge is intended to benefit all mankind, let everyone pay for it!

  6. Phil

    Don’t get your knickers twisted into a knot. The physics community has never referred to the Higgs Boson as the "God Particle". That’s sensationalism from the press. We should expect no more from them. They’re just trying to jazz up a subject that 99.9999% of the population would greet with a yawn, and turn back to watching American Idol.

  7. Peter WilsonPeter

    They call it the God-particle because it explains something that cannot be explained short of, "God did it." It is also tautological: "Particles such as top quarks that interact strongly with this field have a high mass; those that interact weakly have low mass." The Higgs field is a uniform Presence everywhere, all-knowing in its ability to distinguish low mass particles from high-mass ones. While I tip my hat to the prediction and subsequent discovery, the question remains: if the Higgs field gives particles their mass, what gives the Higgs field?

  8. Anthony Barreiro

    Robert, this is the best analysis of this story I’ve read anywhere in any general or scientific medium. And …

    A Higgs Boson walks into St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on Sunday morning and kneels down in the front pew. The priest goes up to the boson and says, "I know you’ve been confirmed, but you were never baptized. I’m afraid you’re not welcome in this church." The boson replies, "but Father, you can’t have Mass without me."

  9. John

    For astronomers like myself it’s all about what is stuff made of and how does it stick together. My personal interests include stellar evolution, what makes a star a star, to simplify things. If the Higgs boson is a form of glue then it therefore must be involved with a stars formation. This is good news and with any scientific endeavor further research will help support or not, these findings. Let us not forget that most scientific ideas or hypotheses are not supported by the physical evidence. Theories may or may not stand the test of time.

    StarzDust

  10. John-AndersonJohn Anderson

    Reasons for the phrase and book title “The God Particle”:
    It humorously characterizes properties of the Higgs field and associated particle which are ‘god-like’.

    1.) It is everywhere.
    2.) It is hard to find.

    3.) Leon Lederman wanted to call his book “The Godd**n Particle” presumably due to difficulties 1) and 2.) but the publisher demurred. Reference – Interview with Peter Higgs at http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/indepth/2012/jun/28/peter-higgs-in-the-spotlight

    4.) The name attracts large numbers of book buyers and TV viewers. These are people who are not scientists but are looking for explanations of life’s mysteries. I sometimes refer to a subgroup of this audience as the ‘mystics’ and they show up whenever a well known physicist or cosmologist gives a public talk.

    Can you think of anymore?

    Note on quantum field theory: if you have a field, you have to have an associated particle.

  11. Larry Faltz

    There’s a marvelous 1922 satirical novel by Czech writer Karel Capek (who coined the term "robot" in his play "R.U.R.") called "The Absolute at Large", about a guy who invents a reactor that turns matter into energy. I guess Capek understood the implications of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity reasonably well. Anyway, the vast amont of cheap energy starts transforming society, initially for the good but because it’s just too much of a good thing, society gets disrupted. Eventually the scientists and engineers who run the machines all start getting powerful religious feelings. It turns out that Spinoza was right, "God is present in all things", so when you turn matter into energy you are left with chemically pure God, in the form of something called "the Absolute", which gets out and permeates the world. This of course results in all sorts of mayhem, a global war and destruction of society.

    So perhaps Capek not only anticipated nuclear reactors but also the "God particle". [But I too wish Lederman hadn't called it that. What a cheesy way to sell a book.]

    Capek’s other great satirical apocalyptic novel is "War with the Newts". It doesn’t involve physics, but it holds humanity up to a very uncomfortable mirror, once again.

  12. Lewis Brackett

    Please clarify that they did not actually see the Higs Boson
    they just thought they heard it sneeze in the balcony…….

    Both the Higs Boson and Dark Matter are inferred from circumstances, not actually proven……

    As Dr Hawking famously stated, out assumptions guide our results…..
    Both Gigs Boson and Dark Matter may in fact be the footprints of forces still beyond our science……

    For the record, no one has yet shown me a glass of Dark Matter either……..

    :) Lewis

  13. Bruce

    Thanks Phil, Peter, John Anderson & Larry for your comments. Phil: Texans don’t even know what knickers are, so not a problem. Your points about the press, sensationalism and the public are well taken however. Peter: Excellent explanation with skillfully subtle logic. I love the implication of your concluding question. John A.: Nice summary. I didn’t know about the book title, but if I’d have seen it in a store it would have been no sale with me. Your point about “mystics” showing up at public talks of scientists is amusingly disturbing. You see, there is a potential pool of individuals susceptible to the rise of Higgs Bosonite-ism. Larry: I’ve read that Einstein is quoted as stating that he believed in the God of Spinoza. I didn’t know what that meant until reading your post, so thanks. And yes, it was a cheesy way to sell a book.

  14. Allan Holmgren

    If the data from the LHC confirm the Higgs boson which is a force particle, does this mean that the Higgs field is a new fundemental force? I know how important this is to the standard model of particle physics but how does this fit with Relativety? Now will be the task of figuring out how the Higgs field emerged from the Big Bang. Is this field an artifact of the energy leveling of the Inflaton field? I love these new discoveries because they offer us all kinds of new questions to ask.

  15. Bill

    Like most readers, I do not have a very firm understanding as to how the Higgs particle works – but I do know how the public reacts to astronomy, especially when showing them the sky in my scope. When people grind through their daily lives, astronomy is not something they are concerned about. What is nice about astronomy is that it gives then a chance to see beauty and order in the Universe.

    I believe that when people can understand and see the same things concerning particle physics, interest in funding project like the Higgs particle will rise. The general public most likely won’t care how the Higgs particle might affect their lives now, but they will relate to the beauty and organization in the field of particle physics.

  16. Cliff

    "This might bust open entirely new particles . . . or perhaps something completely unexpected."
    That’s what scares nonscientists like myself. I see this Larson cartoon where a couple of creatures on a far-off planet are looking at a bright star and saying "So THAT’s how they discovered the cause of supernovas (or black holes, or whatever)." The atom bomb in the 1940s showed us the kind of forces we’re playing with at this level. This poke-a-stick-in-the-beehive approach to science makes me nervous.

  17. synektix

    How interesting that some of you including the writer of this article wish the discovery had been made by Fermilab rather than LHC — the thinking being that "the glory" would then have gone to American scientists rather than the Europeans. I believe the best scientists are quite unselfish in acknowledging glory in whomever might deserve it, because they are bound together in the exultation of a shared quest. Einstein, for instance, recognized the genius of Indian physicist and polyglot Satyendra Nath Bose, for whom the Boson is named. Einstein went out of his way to translate one of Bose’s papers into German. Look him up in Wikipedia or Google for his biography. Bose was ignored by the Nobel committee even though his contributions were seen as vital by all the big names associated with the evolution of particle physics. And even now, with all the euphoria over a few extra Geravolts — all I see is Higgs This, God Particle That — I see not a single western media source or scientific magazine acknowledging the seminal importance of Bose’s work. Now THAT’s something to be sore about.

  18. Dieter

    This superb result of science deserves certainly the Nobel price.
    How inferior is this nationalistic moaning and groaning. Science has to be a global effort. Leave the nationalistic approach to dictators. They require it for their ego. The free world must focus on science.

  19. N. Foldager

    @Paul Vondra: A lot of good science, within a wide spectrum of scientific fields, is made on ISS.

    The Europeans made LHC and found Higg’s boson anyway. What do you miss?

    Excited by the new discovery, I explained to my wife the significance of the Higg’s particle. She replied:

    "How can it have so much mass if it is so small?"

  20. promytius

    "to predict new particles, and then creating them in laboratories."
    I don’t really think that humans actually CREATE particles – isn’t that sort of a higher order occupation?
    Otherwise a very careful and well-written article.
    I’ve always had problems with people "discovering" "creating" things – you know, Columbus, Higgs, et. al., it’s just sloppy speech, I know; but if the science isn’t sloppy the language shouldn’t be either.
    I mean after all, for 14 billion years these things existed, then some sentient comes along and suggests a new explanation, or uses a different name, or a skewed perspective, for what ALREADY IS, and gets "credit" for it – how… HUMAN.
    For many it will always BE God’s particle, not ours.

  21. Mike Howard

    All natural phenomena have two explanations; 1) God did it or 2) some scientific explanation. But, how are those different?

    Neither is a final explanation because you will always be able to ask, for example, "who made the Higgs boson?" or "who made God?" Nor are the two explanations contradictory as the scientific answer can be considered as inspiration (from God?) on how God did it. Of course, that requires one to consider God’s inspiration as less than absolute or complete; was God wrong explaining it through Newton and had to issue a correction through Einstein or does inspiration come in parts, perhaps limited by our abilities to understand? (Similarly, Moses and Darwin)

    The important difference is that only the scientific theory has proven value for predicting something new. The god theory has proven value for convincing others (frequently, subjects) of the way things are, but little else, except perhaps, how some people apply it to their own lives.

    Conflict comes only when people attempt to give the god theory predictive value and then put too much stock in their own conclusions. An earth centered universe, a literal six day creation of everything, a slave owner’s "right" to own someone, jihad, are just a few examples of the problems that came through this process. (It can be hard to realize that "God" isn’t necessarily the problem here).

    I doubt that anyone has put any stock into a god theory for the 125 GeV events. So perhaps the only controversy is the pretentious air of calling it the god particle as if physicists believe they can now convince others there is no God.

  22. James 'Jim' Oss

    I too was disappointed when the Texas based SCSC was cancelled. Perhaps the purported discovery by CERN will be a ‘Sputnik’ moment and Congress will reconsider the construction of it. On another matter, there are plans to construct a high speed 200+ m/h rail line between Denver and Kansas City – a strait 600 mile shot. Why not build a linear accelerator that would run parallel next to our under the rails?
    Just a thought ‘experiment’ from a retired Science teacher,
    Jim Oss
    Wa Keeney, Kansas

  23. Joe S.

    @promytius – The Higgs field has existed (presumably) since the beginning, but the Higgs particles are created. The language is precise, not sloppy. They are objects with finite lifetimes, with clear time of creation and decay.

  24. Hussain Almousawi

    Higgs discovery I believe is a historic one. It will alter the knowledge in Physics thus will be part of schools and the universities science studies. It will revolutionize the science knowledge in general on the being and then the behave of the universe. But I still wish to understand that Higgs particles when discovered. Did it give in the same time the birth of the dark energy or dark matter together? Or did the dark matter and energy exist before then?

  25. Bruce

    Many fascinating comments, but I think Cliff’s post shouldn’t be ignored. His Larsonian word picture makes a good point, don’t you agree? At first I thought, so this here Higgs boson particle takes a humongous machine colliding particles at 7 Tev to (quite rarely, it seems) produce a particle of 125-6 Gev that “will decay almost instantaneously.” (Mr. Naeye, or anyone else who may know, what does that mean? Does it have a half-life of some known duration?) My thinking went, ok, so it goes away almost as soon as it’s produced, so what can it do or be used for? But after thinking about Cliff’s comment and remembering man’s current propensity to weaponize new discoveries, I’m very glad these particles go away so quickly, as ‘the theory also predicted.’ In copying on a small scale what goes on inside the cores of stars, an H-bomb actually converts only a small percentage of Deuterium’s mass into energy. At 126 times the mass of a proton, the thought of a Higgs boson bomb is horrifying. I hope this remains impossible, and that as they up the LHC energy nothing goes horribly wrong.

  26. chardo137

    The SSC was, in the beginning, an international effort. It was Reagan who said that the US had to lead the world in physics and would do the project alone. I suspect that someone took him aside and explained that there would be no bigger bombs forthcoming.
    Anyone who is worried about anything that might be created with any conceivable particle collider really should look into physics a little more deeply. There are MANY excellent popular level physics and astronomy books out there. Remember what Douglas Adams said and: Don’t Panic!!

  27. Bruce

    But Chardo137, in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, didn’t the earth get paved? Seriously though, I can see in what you’re saying what seems like sound advice, to “look into physics a little more deeply.” I’ve read the ’88 edition of Cauldrons in the Cosmos on nuclear astrophysics, but I looked in it’s index and boson isn’t even listed. So for the benefit of those of us who want to keep up in this brave new bosonic world, which of the “MANY excellent popular level physics” books would you recommend? Please do not say The God Particle.

  28. Victor garbarino

    Thank you anthony, that was a really good one to add to the collection.
    Mr coolstar: in times where an administration blatantly lied to get into $ trillion wars and got away with it, it’s sad that nobel price winners had to resort to "lying" to get funds for research and still got none: funny how there are always funds for war but never enough for education and independent research…and right here in the us of a.

  29. ReddGator

    Robert, you should right for Science News and a host of other science magazines. I’ve been reading and listening to broadcasts about this discovery since it was announced. Your article is by far, like orders of magnitude, better than any others that I have seen. Thank you for you detail and your knowledge about this issue. Like you, I am a laymen, but I have great knowledge of the field, and so do you. Thank you again.

  30. Bruce

    Right, Reddgator. I’ve needed the same function more times than I can remember, and made the same the same request as well. How did you as a layman aquire your knowledge of pariticle physics? I’m seeking recommendations for reading up on the subject.

  31. ReddGator

    Bruce,

    What knowledge I have has been obtained through decades of reading on subjects like Quantum Mechanics, General and Special Relativity, the Standard Model (and many earlier models), as well as information on Cosmology, Astronomy, Fluid Dynamics and other related fields. I don’t claim to be an expert in any of these fields, but I do have a fundamental understanding of most of them, excepting the mathematics involved. My college education on math involving particle physics ended with differential equations about half a century ago. These days, I go through stages where I will buy some book, perhaps about string theory, and read it, but I don’t do it as often as I used to. One of my favorite books was Warped Passages by Lisa Randall which provided insight into the concept of branes and just where we might be in this wonderful and amazing universe or perhaps multiverse in which we reside.

    I don’t really have recommendations on particular books or authors, but there are constantly new publications about all of these fields, and all of them relate in some manner to particle physics. I’m sure new books will be written both for and against the concept that the Higgs Boson has finally been discovered. All of them will provide more information on particle physics, as well as the various flavors of Higgs particles.

    Who knows were all of this will ultimately end.

    Good luck with your quest and your discovery.

  32. Bruce

    Reddgator, thank you sincerely for that very detailed description of how you acquired your understanding. It would appear that my hope for a quick fix to my particle physics knowledge shortfall is not to be had. But after pondering what you and Chardo137 have wrote I’m reminded of what Solomon wrote at Ecclesiastes 12:12, “To the making of many books there is no end, and much devotion to them is wearisome to the soul.” As a student of both the Bible and science I feel that I need to be selective, so that I can “make sure of the more important things, hold fast to what is fine.” (Philippians 1:10) Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” I like that. The Bible tells us what God did and why he did it, but science is telling us how he did it. The Bible tells us that God is powerful and wise, science is helping to show us how powerful and how wise he is. I’m sure that where he alive today Einstein would be elated at this new Higgs finding. Peter Higgs, if you should see this let me say that I’m happy for you that you lived to see your theory vindicated. As a religious person I also appreciate your displeasure with “the god particle” expression. (If he doesn’t get the Nobel Prize something is fishy in Copenhagen.)

  33. Bruce

    Reddgator, thank you sincerely for that very detailed description of how you acquired your understanding. It would appear that my hope for a quick fix to my particle physics knowledge shortfall is not to be had. But after pondering what you and Chardo137 have wrote I’m reminded of what Solomon wrote at Ecclesiastes 12:12, “To the making of many books there is no end, and much devotion to them is wearisome to the soul.” As a student of both the Bible and science I feel that I need to be selective, so that I can “make sure of the more important things, hold fast to what is fine.” (Philippians 1:10) Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind.” I like that. The Bible tells us what God did and why he did it, but science is telling us how he did it. The Bible tells us that God is powerful and wise, science is helping to show us how powerful and how wise he is. I’m sure that where he alive today Einstein would be elated at this new Higgs finding. Peter Higgs, if you should see this let me say that I’m happy for you that you lived to see your theory vindicated. As a religious person I also appreciate your displeasure with “the god particle” expression. (If he doesn’t get the Nobel Prize something is fishy in Copenhagen.)

  34. C C

    1. What is the relation between Higgs "mass" and
    e = m * (c squared)? I haven’t seen this in the popular press,

    2. is the Higgs particle the same as a "graviton"?

    3. We’re told that, according to general relativity, the presence of mass (gravitaional) warps space-time. Does this relate to the Higgs field?

    4. It doesn’t make sense for the popular media to call the Higgs particle a "Boson", as only specialists would know what a Boson is.
    (I think it’s distinguished from a Fermion, shich would satisfy the Pauli Exclusion Principle. I believe there’s a mathematical explanation, involving spin.)

  35. Mike W. Herberich

    1. As for my understanding Higgs provides existence for mass/ matter at all and in the first place. So, without Higgs, the "m" in dE=dm*c**2 were 0, if, when and where this relativistic formula applies to quantum mechanics at all (m=m0/sqrt(1-v**2/c**2), m0=rest mass). This is, to my understanding, because particle physics posits POINT particles, that is, "particles" with infinitely small extension (mathematical point), which does not leave much space for mass, does it? 2. I believe the graviton is the hypothetical (gauge) particle mediating gravitational force; so no connection to Higgs (yet). 3. Should this be shown to relate it would amount to the long sought theory unifying quantum mechanics with general relativity, "the "world formula". 4. Why not call it a boson when it is one? I agree: the press could maybe do more to clear the term up and/ or incite people to research for themselves. 5. Please, other (more informed) readers, scrutinize my above statements. Thank you.

  36. Andy Saulietis

    My understanding of what happened in the big bang is that
    there was both matter and anti-matter at one point, in approximately
    equal amounts. Some time later, the two annihilated each other, resulting
    in a huge amount of energy being released, and the remaining ‘normal’ matter
    is what comprises the universe as we know it today. My question is:

    What happened to all this energy, whose mass equivalent is > 10 times of the
    matter we can see? Is it just a coincidence that this mass equivalent is
    about the same as the ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’ combined?

    Just a shot in the dark…

    Andy Saulietis BSAE MIT ’65 and optical guidance engineer at NASA 1965-1995

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