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Searching For the Higgs-Boson Particle

on March 29, 2008
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Newsweek: “In Search of the God Particle” An article on one of the most important physics projects of the new millennium asks, “Will it change our views of the universe and our place in it?” Apparently the writer (and her sources) consider physics tantamount to religion!

Switzerland’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), years in the making, is finally ready to begin its mission this summer: smashing matter together in the quest to find an “elusive” particle known as Higgs boson (a boson is one type of particle smaller than an atom). The Higgs boson is irreverently known as the “God particle” because physicists are hoping it will help us unlock a “grand theory of the universe.”

The Higgs boson is irreverently known as the “God particle.”

Newsweek’s Ana Elena Azpurua spoke to Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg of the University of Texas–Austin about the scientific and alleged religious import of the work that will be done (and discoveries that many hope scientists will make) at the new collider.

Our full take on the interview will arrive early next week, but in the meantime, take a look at the sort of anti-God philosophy that is, in some ways, at the heart of what is nonetheless interesting physics research:

[Azpurua:] As we come closer to developing an ultimate theory of the universe, how will this impact religion?
[Weinberg:] As science explains more and more, there is less and less need for religious explanations. Originally, in the history of human beings, everything was mysterious. Fire, rain, birth, death, all seemed to require the action of some kind of divine being. As time has passed, we have explained more and more in a purely naturalistic way. This doesn't contradict religion, but it does takes away one of the original motivations for religion.

Be sure to check back early next week for an in-depth look at the interview!


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