Inexplicable Particle Party

There will be an announcement from the scientists at the CERN super collider this morning having to do with particle physics and the search for the mysterious Higgs boson, which supposedly plays an important role in some theoretical explanation of the universe and why things have mass.

I made a token effort to read up on it and quickly came to the conclusion that this is something I will only understand if it is explained in terms so simple that the description completely undermines the complicated science that supports it. Please, put it in some nice words that interest me. If the universe is a hot fudge sundae, is the Higgs boson a piece of walnut, the cherry on top, or the bowl?

Maybe it will all make sense tomorrow, once the world’s best journalists have had a shot at interpreting this scientific press carnival. Or perhaps we should just prepare ourselves to be smothered by a tsunami of profound confusion.

One thing is for sure – there will be a lot of loose talk over the next 24 hours about the Higgs boson as a “God” particle, because God is something we already know how to argue about and misinterpret.

And if that’s not bad enough, some idiot will try to put the thing into a dopey poem.

They’ll bravely attempt it, in newspaper articles
Journalists writing about physics particles.
Laying it out with such logical text
that a monkey could read it and not be perplexed.

And on radio, too, they’ll attempt to explain it
so beautifully, singers will try to refrain it.
On TV they’ll make Mr. Higgs and his boson
As sexy as starlets without any clothes on.

But after the press conference, headlines and fizz
There will still be uncertainty as to what is
the meaning of whatever news comes to pass,
using words that take space and have weight, but no mass,

So beware the quick and the glib and the simple.
It’s more than a dot or a speck or a pimple.
There’s no single term for it that isn’t flawed
which is why it’s elusively named after God.

Name something that defies understanding.

62 thoughts on “Inexplicable Particle Party”

  1. Dale, you’ve outdone yourself! The last two lines of the second verse had me snorting coffee out my nose.
    As to naming something that defies understanding, am I allowed only one thing? Good grief, which one do I choose? I’ll be back when I have narrowed it down.

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      1. Anna, I know you’re not trying to be humorous, but your “vice grips” are making me giggle.

        Definition of vice: moral depravity or corruption : wickedness
        Definition of vise: :any of various tools with two jaws for holding work that close usually by a screw, lever, or cam

        I haven’t laughed much over the past several days…thanks!

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  2. The assortment of candidates vying for the Republican presidential ticket? Why food that was perfectly acceptable yesterday on Daughter’s plate is unacceptable today? The inability of dogs I have owned to ignore the siren call of the (apparently) tasty poop-sicle snacks in the back yard?

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  3. Good morning to all. There is no end to things that defy my understanding. For some things I agree with the song about letting the mystery go and I can leave those mysteries alone. I am a believer in science and I wonder why anyone would ignore extensive scientic studies and follow an unproven path or a path that seems to be totally wrong. Then there are questions like the one Holly asked: “where do socks go?” I have questions like that such as: “why can’t I remember that name ?” and “what did I have in mind when I came into this room?”.

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  4. The scientists that study things like Higgs boson make use of complicated mathematical formulas. That type of science is beyond me. I wasn’t able to master or didn’t want to master the mathematical skills needed to do that kind of work. I admire writers like, Stephen Hawkins, who can explain scientific theory based in higher mathematics to people like me who can’t do the mathematics. I have enjoyed reading some of Hawkins writings and I think I should read more of what he has written, but I even his writings become tedious for me after a while.

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  5. I always am amazed when I see the perpetually overflowing shopping carts in Target and Walmart, and I wonder why people need to buy so many things all the time. Aren’t their homes getting stuffed full?

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  6. Great dopey poem, Dale

    I am constantly amazed to find acres and acres of paved stuff covering so much of the earth. I try to imagine what I would think of the world if say, I time traveled from a previous era. Yikes!

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  7. The ability of people not only to ignore all generally-acceptable evidence and cling to their preconceived ideas, but to cling to those presumptions ever more tenaciously the higher the evidence piles up against them. Why do people do that? Is it toddler-like stubbornness and the inability to admit one’s mistakes, or is it something really, terribly wrong with their brains? Or both, perhaps?

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  8. Morning all–
    Using a public computer today that’s being fussy so excuse any exceeding randomness beyond my normal randomness…
    I don’t understand why people drive with their headlights off. And some of the people at daughters school won’t leave a gap to let you into the parking lot; why?
    And why do I hate Christmas music so?

    Someone is going to have to comment on members of the opposite sex but I’m not going there.

    OT- had lunch w/ Anna yesterday and delivered non-dead Friendship Starter.

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    1. My comment about the opposite gender person in my house is probably directly related to my missing tools (I will refrain from making disparaging remarks about my hand tools being used for gardening – really, did you need my big vice grips to pull roots? really?).

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      1. And Ben, I shall endeavor not to kill this starter. Really. Though it was lovely to have the excuse to meet for lunch. (I’m willing to share with local baboons who might want starter.)

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    2. Ben, The proximity of postings makes me wonder if there is such a thing as Zombie Starter and if that explains the immortality of the undead?

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    3. I have extra starter too, in case anyone wants some. It’s frozen. I’m willing to travel and meet any Baboon who wants it.

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  9. Excellent poem, Dale, especially the final four lines.

    Last night the unanswerable questions were why my new TV couldn’t find even one station and why my basement toilet was jammed up. So you can see I was covering the spectrum of problems, from high tech to low tech. The home handyman I called turned out to be Eddie from Kooba (or that was his pronunciation of his homeland). Eddie figured out that the TV was attached to a cable that was not connected to anything except a big pile of coaxial cable in the basement, and when we connected it to the actual antenna it worked. His opinion on the toilet was that a mouse had swum against the tide from city sewers and had become lodged in my plumbing. I wanted to explain that larger objects than mice go through that pipe, but I got embarrassed and there was a bit of a language problem. If he had blamed the blockage on the Higgs bosun I would have responded the same, giving him a check and a smile for having fixed something I couldn’t fix.

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  10. What a timely topic! This mystery was brought to my attention by my husband. He commented last evening that he has never lived in a place where he could find so many different kinds of saurkraut in the store “and its all pure!” This is from a man who grew up in Sheboygan, WI, the bratwurst capitol, so he knows his kraut. I question why anyone would need even one kind of kraut, A true mystery.

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    1. Renee, the great selection of kraut in your area also seems like a mystery to me. However, I think many of us see N. Dakota is a mysterious place due our lack of knowledge about the place you call home. What other mysteries can you find out in the wide open spaces in which I picture you living and where does all the kraut come from?

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    2. a friend of a friend is flannigan from the shebygan area who just sold his kraut company for huge dollars. his company was franks kraut. i like that one

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  11. Greetings! Ah, there is so much in this world I don’t understand.
    Why is chocolate the first food to disappear in my house?
    How is it possible to gain 5 lbs overnight?
    Why do rainbows and glorious sunsets make me weep?
    Do most Republicans really need to vote since they obviously are so uninformed? 8)
    Why aren’t there more wonderful baboons in this world?
    Why do the loud and ignorant garner more attention than the quiet and intelligent?
    And if someone can resolve all those missing socks in my laundry, open up the wormhole to the alternate universe where they obviously must be — and bring them back! Surely that would be worth a Nobel prize.

    Like Renee, I look at folks’ shopping carts at the grocery store, and wonder at the amount of junk and non-nutritious food people buy for their families. Yes, I will admit to buying some — but it’s definitely a small portion of total food intake. Just random thoughts …

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      1. I also think I know what happens to almost all the chocolate at our house. I have asked about what happened to the chocolate and I have pretended that I didn’t know, but I do.

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  12. Thanks for rhyming “boson” with “clothes on”, Dale. It helped me know how to pronounce “boson.” I was pronouncing it (of course!) like “bosom” or “boozin’.”

    Work has been bogging me down lately. The State is moving (and DNR already has moved) to a new financial system called SWIFT. (Trust me, it is NOT swift.) Why the state would do this defies comprehension. If you could see what I’m looking at and trying to reconcile, you would agree. I think it’s very possible that the surplus recently found in the state budget forecast is due to errors in SWIFT.

    I lost a brand new shirt recently. I wore it once, put it in the laundry, and it vanished. It’s like those socks and nail clippers. Incomprehensible.

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    1. A little research tells me that SWIFT is short for Statewide Integrated Financial Tools. I can imagine there was a meeting in which it was decided that although “Statewide” may be one word, it’s almost two words, and we like the acronym SWIFT better than SIFT, so we’re going to invoke the Tortured Acronym Rule and declare it SWIFT. (The Tortured Acronym Rule states that you can put up to three extraneous letters in your acronym if you come up with a better word that way.)

      The shirt is just hiding out to see if you will purchase its twin. If you do, the original will magically reappear.

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  13. Is anybody going to talk about Boson Smee from Peter Pan? Bo’son as in “boatswain” they tell me on the internet? I learned how to pronounce it when Mom read me Peter Pan as a kid. He was Captain Hook’s right hand man.

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      1. Several years ago when the Robin Williams version of Peter Pan was out –with Bob Hoskins as Smee, I had a beard and one girl used to call me ‘Smee’. I liked that nickname. Doesn’t work for me anymore …

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  14. I have the opportunity to spend a long weekend in Ely every summer, with a friend from college. To me, that is the remarkable/unexplainable: We’ve been friends since the mid-1970s and greet each other joyously by just picking up the conversation and running with it from morning till night. That’s the main delight in Ely, closely followed by the lake, the sunsets, great meals, the laziness that settles down upon you and turns off “The Cities” for a few days. However, en route to Ely, if you come in from the west, you come through Tower, where they use an abandoned mine to shoot neutrinos through the earth back to Chicago.
    Don’t they know? Life above ground is amazing enough.

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  15. welcome bonnie l
    ely and tower are gods country. i love it up there. even better are friendships like you describe.
    great poem dale articles and particles starts it right off and takes it to a marvelous end. bravo.

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  16. so many things that i don’t understand…
    why the stars shine
    why drivers will motion for me to cross the street (when i’m walking) and then start moving forward as soon as i’m right smack in front of their car
    why a great blue heron was hanging around a rushing creek in duluth the day before my dad’s memorial service
    why drivers do u-turns in the middle of busy streets without looking to see if any traffic is coming
    why do i like raspberries so much

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    1. im with you on the raspberries edith. as for dorks on the planet, embrace them. they are here to make it easy to feel right about stuff you always knew was right but forgot to notice and pat yourself on the back for

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      1. he might have been…i’m not sure. i was surprised to see the heron by this creek because i had thought herons preferred water that was not moving so fast. it was a very cool thing anyway. my dad was always picking up rocks, too – in fact, he used to get truckloads of them for a yard project – and when we spread some of his ashes by the Lake, i found lots and lots of very small agates.

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  17. there was a scientist from geneva
    had a tunnel if you can believa
    where they crank up those laps
    15 miles holy crap
    they got scientic stuff up their sleevas

    gods particle theyre searching for it
    theyre so close they think they can score it
    lifes secrets revealed
    through neutron grapes peeled
    the scientists they all adore it

    its cool when a gizmo works good
    for 15 billion they hoped that it would
    theyre so close they can taste it
    its a butterball baste it
    i’d wrap it up with a bow if i could

    sometimes when in doubt we will wonder
    if we should go ahead and chance a big blunder
    but tese guys got in knocked
    science world will be rocked
    and all doubts will be put asunder

    congrats in advance to discovery
    the world is in watch mode and hovering
    all i want is a room somewhere
    with gods particle in the cold night air
    wouldnt it be loverly

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