Posts Tagged ‘subatomic’

Because of a spectacular controversy within the scientific community, Write Good! is stepping in to resolve mankind’s fundamental understanding of the very nature of the universe – yet again!

At issue is the appropriate name to be assigned to the Higgs boson, that highly elusive quantum particle that had escaped detection for decades by even the most sophisticated instruments. Last July, scientists at CERN in Switzerland discovered the theoretical boson using the Large Hadron Collider – a high-energy particle accelerator built to destroy the Earth. To nearly everyone’s surprise, the missing particle was found jammed in the kitchen drawer under a batch of photos from the researchers’ bass fishing trip to the Wisconsin Dells.

The scientific community was jubilant, especially the physicists at the Large Hadron Collider. Wine flowed freely at congratulatory celebrations, and soon drunken revelers were colliding anything they could get their hands on – note pads, car keys, bras – just for the flash and sizzle. One prankster even painted a giant smiley face on the collider’s earth-boring, black-hole-tipped nuclear bomb ovipositor, a practical joke that cost him the use of both arms.

CERN scientists enjoy brief respite from research as military concludes early test of Large Hadron Collider.

CERN scientists enjoy brief respite from research as military concludes early test of Large Hadron Collider.

To the discoverer of such a monumental find comes the promise of a Nobel Prize and with it more than $1 million, worldwide acclaim, the launch of their own celebrity clothing line, franking privileges, and a cameo appearance on The Big Bang Theory.

At issue: whether the Higgs boson particle should maintain the name of the British physicist, Peter Higgs, who’s credited with theorizing its existence. Rival scientists have launched a campaign to rename the boson as a way of sharing credit for the landmark discovery. Although Higgs has long acknowledged the work of others in formulating the boson theory, his rivals are not appeased. Some lobby publically for a name change, others routinely trash Higgs’ dorm room or drunk call him at 2 a.m. from the local physics-themed bar.

To properly rename the boson we must first understand the boson. What is its motivation? Where does it expect to be in five years? Turn ons?

Even among the subatomic particles – that powerful lobbying branch of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission – the boson is an enigma. Hairless and covered with bony plates, bosons are amphibious but give birth to live young, which they carry in their pouch until mature.

Sorry, Write Good! was looking at the wrong Web page.

Back in the 1960s, researchers first proposed a unique form of subatomic particle with the ability to create a field in which other passing particles had mass. Dubbed the Higgs boson, the theory involved a lot of math, chalk boards covered with little, squiggly characters, and men wearing white shirts, narrow ties and pants belted above their navels.

The Higgs boson is considered the backbone of the subatomic particles, often working long hours in a cramped office for little pay while Gamma rays get all the publicity. Mainstream media – which doesn’t understand science any better than Write Good! – dramatically dubbed the Higg’s boson the “God particle” because of its crucial, yet elusive nature as well as its deep voice and flowing white beard.

Simulated collision between two protons reveals ‘God particles’ in stunningly clear details of cheap sight gag.

Simulated collision between two protons reveals ‘God particles’ in stunningly clear details of cheap sight gag.

Without a solid grounding in quantum mechanics, we can only understand the workings of the boson by using an analogy. If not, we’ll move on to hand puppets, then a felt board.

Imagine that the universe is a small, modestly successful Greek-owned restaurant, possibly on the near west side of Chicago. The time: a few hours after the breakfast rush but before the lunch crowd. A group of rival scientists wearing their gang colors sit around a table glumly staring into their coffee mugs. The bell above the door chimes. In walks Professor Higgs accompanied by his boson, who take a booth by the door. A waitress reluctantly takes their order, complaining that she always gains mass when she comes within the boson’s field.

RIVAL SCIENTIST: Hey Higgsy, do you have to bring that thing in here?

HIGGS: Look, it’s an elementary particle pivotal in explaining all the forces arising between the subatomic particles that allow atoms to form. So, ya’ know, it ain’t my call.


SAM, THE OWNER: No trouble, boys! Don’t make me come out there.

RIVAL SCIENTIST: Ah, ferget it, Sam. We’re just being rivals.

HIGGS: Look, guys, I’m no happier than you about the way things worked out with…You-Know-Who here. But isn’t it time we just let it go? Who knows, maybe we’ll all get a shot at a Big Bang Theory walk on.

RIVAL SCIENTIST: Yeah, what the Hell, Higgsy. C’mon over and let’s have a beer.

Higgs and the boson join the rival scientists. Their table’s mass, suddenly altered by the boson’s field, tips over shattering crockery on the floor. They all laugh.

SAM, THE OWNER: Hey, you don’t bring that damn thing in here no more. OK? OK!

Anyway, that’s why it’s called the Higgs boson.

Permission to re-use this material for non-commercial purposes is granted provided that Dave Jaffe, www.davejaffecomm.com is appropriately credited as the author and source. Please feel free to link to this page.

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