Why was the discovery of the Higgs Boson (and Science in general) so important for our lives?

in science •  9 months ago

A few days ago we discussed about the LHC and its importance for Humanity, now I would like to share some thoughts about its most important discovery, the Higgs Boson

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As certainly the majority of the people already know, the confirmation of the existence of the the Higgs Boson a few years ago was probably the most important achievement in modern Science.

But how can someone quantify the importance of a discovery like this one? Aren’t there more important things like people dying of hunger right now in Africa, wars in several countries, and economic uncertainty throughout several countries around the world?

What makes the discovery of a small and seemingly insignificant particle something so big and important?


Well, that's what I want to discuss today with this post. I hope that at the end of your reading at least one or two readers who previously thought otherwise, are convinced, or at least intrigued, that certainly perhaps this discovery was one of the most significant ones of our existence.

Unfortunately (and I think we can all understand why), it is not so easy for the general population to see what is special about the discovery of the Higgs Boson, because at the end of the day, this is about Advanced Physics, where equations reign, and we have mathematical formulas, algorithms, strange and difficult to pronounce symbols, graphics with things that seem to be taken from extraterrestrial movies, subjects that are not very popular to say the least.

So I would like to present an alternative perspective, something that we can all relate to a little more, but without leaving behind the scientific spirit behind all this.

Let's visit the origins of civilization, before the beginning of the Christian Era 2,000 years ago, and visit the first philosophers of that time, whether Greeks or Babylonian. No matter who they were, today what interests us now is that some of them in those times began to ponder about things in our nature.

Curiosity is probably the strongest driving force that makes us move forward as a species

Why is the sky blue? Why do objects fall? Why it rains and what are those thunders? What is death? What is beyond the border of the horizon? What are those bright spots in the sky? Why do the seasons change every year? What is infinity? what is time? Why or what are we here for? What is reality?

These questions led us to two types of answers: (1) Answers based on assumptions and superstitions (which gave rise to all types of sects and religions), and (2) Answers based on theories, experiments, calculations and measurements (that led us to modern science).

And there is a fundamental difference between both ways of answering our existential questions: While the first method offers us the answers we want to hear, the second offers us the answers of actual reality, whether we like those answers or not.

The first method is based on wishes. The second, in evidence.

Well, more than 2 thousand years later, it has become clear which of the two methods has been the one that has most benefited humanity, because today a large part of all the things that make us happy, come from scientific and technological innovations.

We talk about smartphones to communicate with our friends and family. Methods to be able to save children’s lives in delivery rooms. Medicines to cure or alleviate our illnesses and pains. Genetically modified food that today feeds about 90% of the world's population. Televisions to watch our favorite soccer or basketball matches. Computers to be able to work. Internet to be able to communicate globally with any person in the world. Satellites with GPS technology to help us get where we want. And thousands and thousands of other things that fill us with happiness, and/or simply make our lives more comfortable and pleasant.

Technology is the only way we have to find prosperity for all

Many claim that "possessions do not make us happy", and certainly, everything in excess can be bad, but having enough possessions to live a dignified life, is what everyone of us are looking for.

We can say without a doubt that because of discoveries and innovations such as electricity, drinking water, telephones, refrigerators, and endless other things that science has brought us, that today families (although many claim the opposite) have a lot more opportunity to live a better life together.

What caused all of this growth, all of those improvements in life?


Well precisely, discoveries that at the time only a few understood, and probably the people who at the time actually understood the subject, could not imagine the uses and improvements in life that the discovery would give us in the future.

I have seen people complain about "the huge waste of resources that represents investing money in machines like the LHC”, because according to them, it is better to use that money to feed the poor and the people suffering from hunger.

But have those people sat a couple of seconds to think about where the food they eat is coming from? If it were not for the science and the advances of the last decades, today there would not be a practical way to feed the 7,000 million people the planet, and all that food is possible precisely thanks to scientific advances that once seemed absurd and a "waste" of money.

Scientific discoveries are always useful one way or another

However, if there is something that we have learned from science again and again, it is that any discovery that is made, eventually ends up useful to us. And that even includes things invented for war purposes.

For example the internet was developed by DARPA in the US to serve as a telecommunications network resistant to failures in the battlefield. And yet, today the invention that has most positively influenced all our lives may be the Internet.

Even the development of the nuclear bombs that ended in one of the most shameful moments of our humanity when a couple of them were detonated on Japan, ended up providing useful tools for other sectors: Today all cancer treatment, as well as all type of scanners, depend on technologies developed for those atomic bombs, and it is not an exaggeration to say that for every person who was killed in Japan at least thousands more lives have been saved thanks to these technologies and its uses in the medical field.

How is the Higgs Boson related to all of this?


Well the Higgs Boson was the missing peace with which it is now possible to now better understand the reality of our existence, and perhaps even offer us in the not too distant future answers to the question "What or how our Universe began?", as well as "What is the destiny of our universe?".

The Higgs boson, as proposed within the Standard Model, is the simplest manifestation of the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism. Other types of Higgs bosons are predicted by other theories that go beyond the Standard Model. | Source

"You can think of the Higgs Field as an ocean and the particles as fish. For instance, a Herring is a fish that functions very well in water. It can turn and swim pretty fast. In this case, the fish represents the particles with less mass (like an electron). The less mass the particle has, the less it interacts with the Higgs Field" | Source

The Higgs boson is an elementary particle in the Standard Model of particle physics. First suspected to exist in the 1960s, it is the quantum excitationof the Higgs field, a fundamental field of crucial importance to particle physics theory.[7] Unlike other known fields such as the electromagnetic field, it has a non-zero constant value in vacuum. | Source

The Higgs Boson gives mass to everything that we are able to perceive in our reality, it is also related to the force of gravity (the more mass, more gravity), and the force of gravity is related to time (the more gravity, the more time stretches), because of this, the Higgs Boson could also be one of the more important parts to develop a "master" equation of our reality, that is able to explain all natural phenomena. But even if this do not explain everything to us, and only offer us a glimpse of the nature, the benefits could still be incredibly huge.

The reason this is so important is that all matter is made up of atoms, which consist of electrons orbiting atomic nuclei. If it weren't for the Higgs field, those electrons would have zero mass, moving at the speed of light never able to slow down enough to bind with a nuclei. The world of ordinary matter would be a soup of particles continuously speeding at the speed of light never slowing down enough to create matter. There would be no atoms, no molecules, no chemistry, NO LIFE. | Source

Note that everything we have achieved today was with incomplete theories. What other things could we discover and experience if we had a more complete understanding of our universe?

Could this, for example, help us in finding new ways of moving around the universe, so that in the future we can survive past the unavoidable destruction of our planet? Or perhaps we could simply do more realistic things in the short term like saving lives using techniques that today might sound like science fiction to us?

The Higgs Boson, has to do with all of that. It is a new opportunity to discover things that will not only improve our understanding of reality, but will also improve our lives in ways we cannot imagine.

The future will look like magic to us, just as our present would look like magic to someone from 100 years ago

Just ponder what someone would have said 100 years ago if we told them the things we would have today, from cell phones that allow us to talk with someone from the other side of the world, to TVs that allow us to see what happens everywhere in the world, or from machines that are able to see inside our own bodies, to spacecrafts that are exploring the confines of the Solar System.

Perhaps in the next 30, 50, or 100 years from now, we could have such a level of technological development that allow us to accomplish things that we can not imagine today, thanks to the discovery of that seemingly insignificant particle.

Conclusion

Our knowledge of the universe is constantly changing and getting better with each passing year, and sometimes, it might be difficult to really appreciate all the implications of new scientific discoveries, which might only be obvious after many years.

Nevertheless, advancing our knowledge is probably the only way we have to survive in the long term, and the only way to find prosperity for all in the medium term, developing new technologies that makes it easy for people around the world to be productivity and increase their level of live, besides the increase in our health thanks to better medical techniques.

This is why every important discovery needs to be celebrated like a triumph for all humanity, because in the end, every single one of us will benefit thanks to it. Today, we have good lives for the most part thanks to technology, steemit itself is a result of thousands of previous innovations, starting with the very basic concept of a computer and following with the internet. And we still have a long way to go...


What about you? Do you think investing huge amount of money on experiments is worth it? Why?




References

Wikipedia – Higgs Boson
CERN – Higgs Boson
Internetsociety - Origins of the internet
centerforfoodsafety
Futurism - Higgs Field


All images are from free sources

Image Sources

1 , 2 , 3 , 4 , 5 , 6

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One of the best way to understand ourselves and the universe is not usually looking at the big picture, but also looking at the microscopic level. LHC sounds like a good ROI and worth it. :)

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good I like the knowledge

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Heyy how have you been?! Thanks for choosing this post! Really appreciate it!

In my opinion, which is never particularly humble, the discovery of Higgs-Boson was a very important proof that validates a larger portion of a relevant theory. What can come of it? My imagination is no where near large enough to hazard a guess.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. Will it ultimately end up as the most important bit in a decade? Maybe. A century? Probably not. Will it provide a stepping stone for the next discovery? Obviously. There in lies the discovery's ultimate worth. It's worth whatever it cost plus the % it provides to the future.

Thanks for a well conceived and executed post.

Excellent write-up. It's interesting to consider whether disrupting the Higgs Field would be a method for allowing faster than light travel, or if it would just cause matter to instantly disintegrate (both completely revolutionary applications).

Ah this is great, steemit needs more layperson accessible science articles like this. Top notch!

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Duly noted man! Thanks for your words!

These guys are digging deep into the nature of things, pretty exciting stuff, didn't realize how important the higgs was...

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Yes, this is the only way to move forward and survive in the long term (really really long term, but still...)

sounds to me like they're tap dancing really hard trying NOT to say 'lumiferous ether".
call it a 'higgs boson'..doesn't change things..

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Well pal either way the discovery and it’s implications are immense. The more knowledge we have, the better our lives will be.

Great article @dedicatedguy. I am very much not a science guy as you might of guessed, but this was clear and simple so even an artistic type could fathom ;-) Thanks for dropping this knowledge bomb

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I am glad you like it!

Great idea mam , full support to you

As a follower of @followforupvotes this post has been randomly selected and upvoted! Enjoy your upvote and have a great day!

Great job sir......good thinking.........creative mind......thanks