Nobel Prize – The “Higgs” and Predictions

So around 50 years ago a number of scientists made a prediction for an unseen particle (typically referred to as the ‘Higgs boson’ but also sometimes as the ‘God particle’ – a silly name if I ever heard one) which, if it existed, helped to fill in an explanation of the fundamental laws of the universe.  It took 50 years, thousands of people, and millions of dollars to directly confirm this prediction but it was done last year…and thus is deserving of a Nobel Prize.

The Nobel Prize can only be give to at most three scientists, so the letter-of-the-law committee omitted three other scientists who also contributed to this prediction.  I had the fortune to take high energy physics with one of these, Prof Gerry Guralnik, at Brown University.

To think that we, as a species, are able to predict something so subtle in the universe, decades before our ability to actually confirm it, is truly astounding.  In times like this I have a feeling of optimism for our species, an awe for the amazing structure in the universe that we have uncovered, and an excitement for the things that we have yet to discover.

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About brianblais

I am a professor of Science and Technology at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI, and a research professor in the Institute for Brain and Neural Systems, Brown University. My research is in computational neuroscience and statistics. I teach physics, meteorology, astonomy, theoretical neuroscience, systems dynamics, artificial intelligence and robotics. My book, "Theory of Cortical Plasticity" (World Scientific, 2004), details a theory of learning and memory in the cortex, and presents the consequences and predictions of the theory. I am an avid python enthusiast, and a Bayesian (a la E. T. Jaynes), and love music.
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One Response to Nobel Prize – The “Higgs” and Predictions

  1. I remember reading about the “God particle” many years ago. It was supposed to be (at least, this is what I remember reading) the smallest, indivisible unit of matter of which all other elementary particles are composed. Thus is was the “God particle”, because from it all other things are “created” (also, if one is a pantheist, one might conclude that this was the thing of which God is made).

    That doesn’t seem to be the same thing as the Higgs boson, but probably the person who wrote the article I read (wherever that was — I don’t remember) didn’t really know what he was talking about.

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