By: Dr Irengbam Mohendra Singh
It was in October 2010 that I wrote about the beginning of the search for the subatomic particle – ‘neutrino’ known as Higgs boson, nick-named ‘god particle’ that has an undetermined mass and travels at near the speed of light.
At last, scientists are nearer to finding the beginning of the universe without God. On Wednesday December 14 2011 scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva have revealed the conclusive evidence of their finding of the Higgs boson – the mysterious subatomic particle neutrino and there are hopes the findings could be confirmed next year.
The experiments’ main conclusion is that the Standard Model Higgs boson if it exits is most likely to have a mass constrained to the range 116-130 GeV by the Atlas experiment and 115-127 GeV by CMS experiment.
The Standard Model is the science of particle physics – the existence of matter – the fundamental building blocks of the universe.
At the beginning of the universe, the space was completely filled with matter that was very hot and dense. As the matter expanded and cooled, the eventually produced the stars, the galaxies we see in the universe today. The space has no centre as it has no edge.
The Higgs boson is a subatomic particle, the existence of which was proposed by the British physicist Peter Higgs in the sixties. It is thought to provide everything in the universe with mass. Without it there cannot be universe except for the intervention of God.
Isaac Newton proved that the mass is the source of gravity. Albert Einstein proved by his E=mc2 that mass can be converted to energy. But no body knows what mass is and where it comes from. This is the crux of this research.
The Higgs theory is that mass arises when particles, such as protons and neutrons interact with “Higgs field” – a sort of force field that permeates everything. The Higgs boson allows the Higgs field to interact with particles that have mass.
Neutrino (Italian word for “little neutral one”) is a subatomic particle with almost no mass and no electrical charge ie neutral. As they hardly interact with solid matter, billions of them are supposed to be passing through our body at any time. In fact they can even pass though the entire Earth without being affected.
Neutrinos are everywhere. They permeate the very space all around us. Most of these neutrinos are from the Sun, created by nuclear reactions. They are therefore thought to have played an important role in the creation of the universe.
Neutrinos are fundamental particles that were first formed in the first second of the Big Bang, before atoms could form
The scientists at CERN, the giant particle accelerator, straddling the Swiss-French border has also made a revolutionary discovery though unconfirmed, that neutrinos travel faster than light.
From 2009 through 2011 the massive OPERA detector buried in a mountain in Gran Sasso, Italy, recorded neutrinos generated at CERN arriving a smidgen early, faster than light can
move in a vacuum. One hundred and sixty physicists from 11 countries collaborate on the OPERA experiment, which is largely funded by the French, Japanese and Italian governments.
Some 16,000 wispy neutrinos zooming underground in Europe apparently have been outracing light by 60 billionth of a second.
In Illinois, America, Fermilab scientists operate a similar experiment, called MINOS that shoots neutrinos from Illinois to an underground detector in Minnesota. In 2007, MINOS sniffed a hint of faster-than-light neutrinos, but the margin of error was too big to make a claim.
In 2013, the upgraded MINOS detector will restart. It could than confirm or refute their earlier findings. They would be looking at a whole new set of rules for how the universe
Professor Jenny Thomas, on of the MINOS scientists said “Now we have seven times more data.” The team will verify CERN’s findings in the next year and if positive, it will show as to how the neutrinos have outclassed Einstein’s theory.
If confirmed, the finding would throw 106 years of physics into chaos. The rules might bend or break Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, published in 1905. That was a theory that tied together space and time, matter and energy. It set a limit for the speed of light, later measured to be about 186,000 miles per second.
Scientist at LHC, are nearly solving the age old problem of symmetry between matter and antimatter. In theory, when the universe began there should have been equal amounts of matter and antimatter. That is, there should have been positively charged particles like a proton and negatively charged antiprotons. In that case they should have promptly wiped out each other.
This theory means no stars, no galaxy, no earth and no us. But we are here and therefore there must have been an imbalance.
The LHC scientists have discovered the unexpected difference between matter and antimatter particles that could explain why there is an excess of matter. This “supersymmetry” may explain the existence of the elusive “dark matter” that are believed to hold galaxies together.
Whatever, we do not have to wait too long. It is only the next year. If the neutrinos exist, Albert Einstein will be rolling in his grave. A faster than light traveller shocks physicists at the moment.
Why has the finding of neutrino got to do with the existence of God? This is the question I am going to try to answer.
It is simply that the mysteries of the universe, unlike the mysteries of God, are getting solved gradually by scientific investigations.
For most astronomers, the fact that the universe began after the Big Bang is a closed debate. The Big Bang marks the instant at which the universe came into existence and all the matter in the cosmos started to expand 14 billion years ago, dating back to just 10¯43 second (10 million trillion trillionth of a second) after the Big Bang.
Before the Big Bang all four fundamental forces – gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear force and weak nuclear force, were unified, but physicists have yet to develop a workable theory that can describe these conditions.
Three excellent reasons exist for the Big Bang theory to be true: (1) the universe is expanding as observed by Hubble’s telescope; (2) it predicts that 25% percent of the total mass of the universe should be the helium that formed during the first few minutes – an amount that agrees with observations; and (3) the presence of cosmic background radiation – the Big Bang theory predicted this remnant radiation, which now glows at a temperature just 3 degrees
above absolute zero, well before radio astronomers chanced upon it.
The important question that remains to be answered is why the Big Bang happened at all and why it produced this particular universe. Where did that infinitesimally small, infinitely hot and infinitely dense mass come from? No body knows yet. Many people will propose “God did it”.
The answer is for the moment, the “tiny point” did not have to come from anywhere; it was just there. Everybody has a father but God had no father. What is the difference?
The neutrino has a lot common with God, who is inferred from faith-based brain, but faith is not a phenomenon like neutrino that exists and can be proven by experiments done by science-based brain.
Worldwide, the neutrino is regarded as a matter of undisputed fact, while the very existence of God is hotly contested.
On the other hand, it is quite illogical to assign the task of creating this universe to God. The question is why did God need a Big Bang?
For an answer I have to quote Richard Carrier, a freethinker, in his Book – “Sense and goodness without God: a defence of metaphysical naturalism” (1967 p71).
He says this is an awkward fit. What does God need a Big Bang for? The process is a terrible, slow, messy and complicated way to create a universe, much less people. Why the vast expanse of the result?
One would think a god would simply create the whole universe at once or much more quickly at least and only make it as large as would suit us. There would be no need for long drawn-out processes, or of other planets and galaxies, much less all the hundreds of subatomic particles like neutrinos, muons and kaons that we know of.
“God did it” does not predict any of these things, nor does it explain them very well. God has no need for quarks (sic. the subatomic particles carrying a fractional electric charge, postulated as building blocks of normal matter), for example, neutrinos. Nor can they make any predictions about any of these things from the “God did it” hypothesis.
There are detailed assumptions about a god or his plans that could predict or explain all this, or one can resort to something vacuous like “God’s mysteries”, but either way, the god hypothesis is less plausible than any naturalistic theory that already predicts and explains all these strange things like neutrinos.
Scientists are testing them even as I write. The writer is based in the UK