Thursday, July 05, 2012

The human side of the Higgs boson search

I can't really understand the Higgs boson -- the "God particle" that is evidence of the Higgs field, which evokes mass in our universe.  But the human side of the endeavor -- joy, song, humor, beauty and awe -- is tangible.  Here are some examples:

Watch the joyful applause at yesterday's announcement of the discovery at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research:



Peter Higgs tears up at the announcement of a five standard deviation level of significance of the discovery:


Here is a PBS Nova interview/dramatization of Peter Higgs' trepidation at the time he advanced his theory. (The first paper he submitted was rejected):

Watch The Higgs Particle Matters on PBS. See more from NOVA.


(For reactions at the time of the announcement, check out the Guardian's live blog).

Large Hadron Rap (LHR), is perhaps the coolest science rap song ever:



LHR is not the first parody music from CERN. That honor belongs to Les Horribles Cernettes. They were funny and not all that horrible -- check out their song Collider. The Cernettes posed for the first inline image published on the World Wide Web:


Boston.com has assembled dramatic photographic images illustrating the scale and complexity of the CERN collider. Here is one of them:


Peter McCready has created a collection of naviagable, 3-D panoramic photographs of the collider. This is the "table of contents" page, and the images are spectacular:

Last, and, yes, perhaps least, we have the earlier siting of the Higgs bison:

dancewithshadows.com 
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Update 4/14/2014

Last month researchers announced that a 10-meter telescope at the South Pole had detected gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background, a discovery that supports the cosmic inflation theory of how the universe began. I cannot comprehend that, but one of principle investigators summed it up as a "smoking gun" in support of the Big Bang. While I can't follow their reasoning, I do appreciate the human side and magnitude of the quest. For that, check out this video of professor Andrei Linde -- one of the theoreticians behind it -- being told of the (5 standard deviation) result: