Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why is the Higgs boson called "the God particle"?

Not for important scientific, philosophical, or theological reasons.

The term arose with a book entitled, The God Particle, published in 1993 by Leon Lederman, a Nobel Prize winning physicist and science writer Dick Teresi. Wikipedia states:
Lederman said he gave the Higgs boson the nickname "The God Particle" because the particle is "so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our final understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive,"[5][6][7]but added that a second reason was because "the publisher wouldn't let us call it the Goddamn Particle, though that might be a more appropriate title, given its villainous nature and the expense it is causing."[5][8]
I would say Lederman, being an elementary particle physicist, overstated the importance of the Higgs boson. I would restate his claim as the Higgs boson is "central to the state of  elementary particle physics [just one sub-field of physics]  and some aspects of cosmology today, so crucial to our current understanding of elementary particles, yet so elusive."

Whether or not the Higgs boson exists is irrelevant to nuclear physics, atomic physics, solid state physics, biophysics, optics, thermodynamics, statistical physics, chaos, fluid dynamics, chemistry, .....

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