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quarta-feira, 11 de julho de 2012

Higgs boson?

Last week an event of great importance happened to the world of Physics, what in an ideal world (perhaps habited by gnomes) would mean that it was also a important day to humankind. The funny thing is that it really was important to humankind, even if most people have no idea about it.

The video below gives a quick resume of what happened, what it may mean and etc, but if after the video you feel like knowing a little more, just keep reading, ok?



I believe that Physics, more than any other science, has the potential to make adults feel as kids again, exited and enchanted by the world. That, of course, if the teacher or the illustrious person speaking is not some stupid creature exercising its ego or some of those dim-witted fellows who believe that Physics is a set of formulas you must memorize to be happy.

For this reason I believe it is worthy, even if only a small number of people read, to give some explanation about what it all means, about what is a boson, what is a hadron and what is the connection between that, you, me and the mug with coffee and milk next to my computer (yes, mug, it also involves you).

Using this pretty big head that my mom gave me, I fond two ways to offer a better view of all this, making it the more accessible as possible. The first way is longer and has many names and things, the second way uses a famous equation discovered by a guy with a name that could be translated from German as Albert One Stone.

Accordantly to human registered History, the ancient Greeks were the first ones to ask if it was possible to divide, or break, all things around us to a point we would reach something so small that could not be broken anymore. To this thing that could no longer be divided they gave the name of atom, in old Greek ἄτομος which means “indivisible”, or “something that can’t be cut”.

For a long time people imagined that atoms where small compact balls that for some mysterious reasons got together. Over the years, a great number of people studied this concept and much was discovered, with the experience of Rutherford commented on the video, as an example, it was discovered that the atom was not a compact small ball nor a plum pudding. Later, with more research and more and more people that probably had suffered bullying at school, but that were very much intelligent, very much dedicated and passionate about what they did, it was discovered that the elements that are together to make atoms can be divided and the ones resultant of this division could be divided as well.

In the end, after all divisions, conceptuation and so forth, we got elementary particles called fermions. This fermions are divided in 2 groups, quarks and leptons. Just to give you a picture, quarks combine to form hadrons, being proton and neutron the most famous hadrons. Leptons are much smaller elements and the electron is the most famous of that group.

So, everything around you is made of quarks and leptons, but in order to the magic of existence happen it is necessary a third group, the bosons.

Putting it in very simplistic therms, bosons are “the messengers” responsible for transmitting the diverse types of interactions that occurs between quarks and leptons making possible all things to exist, to get together, to break up and work the way we are used to see. The fóton, as an example, is a bóson “messenger” of electromagnetic force.

The Higgs boson is also a “messenger”, like the other bosons, but the interaction it communicates is special, is the interaction responsible for creating the other bosons, it communicates the disturbance that are seeing in something called Higgs Field, that extends itself all over the universe. In other words, by this theory, without the Higgs Field and the Higgs boson, the fundamental particles would not interact and everything in the universe would be a enormous bag filled with Lego parts unassembled.

The other way to give some view about all this is using that famous equation discovered by Mr. Einstein, E=mc², that basically states that mass is a form of energy. Once again, putting all in very simple therms, we can say that the Higgs boson is the responsible for creating the disturbances that make part of the energy of the universe to be converted into mass and part to remain as energy.

Going even deeper there are lots of questionings about what really is this Higgs boson and to which extent it is a solution to the mystery of how things are formed, or if it is more a theoretical and mathematic proposition that explains what happens without really explain the cause, the consequences and how the game of existence is played.

There are also philosophical questionings, like the fact that the concept of the Higgs Field describes a energy that is spread over the entire universe and this energy being “responsible for creating” everything that exist, is one of the reasons why some people call the Higgs boson “the particle of God”, since the nature of this energy field is unknown as is unknown why this field is the way it is.

Personally I think that a better understanding of the Higgs boson will open up new possibilities to energy generation and who knows even to chemistry and quantic manipulation. I also believe that the studies that will be done in the future years, instead of closing the book of all the questions of the humankind about the life, the universe and beyond, will gain many new chapter. New ideas will come, new theories and going against what may go inside the mind of a few, there is still a long path until we reach answers to all questions.

In fact, is it very important to say that are still many theories still to be tested, many other models and interpretations about the universe, some actually with theories about other particles even more complex and connections and correlations even more confuse to our linear mind to understand. That guy of the video, Garrett Lisi, is the author of one of the most interesting of these theories, but about that I my speak some other day (even more because I need to read a lot of things before to avoid saying too much stupid things, right?).

Whatever is going to happen from now on, to me it is always interesting to notice how things repeat in different ranges, how even in this primordial level of everything that is, we also have anonymous messengers carrying messages that shape the world.

And before I leave, I just wanna say once again that all this is a very much simplified version of the whole thing, but even so I hope it was enough to tell to more people what is going on, why this is important and so on, but making sure we are doing it without offend the work of those people who devote their lives to think about these amazing things.