Just in time for the 4th of July, the particle physicists at CERN are hinting that they will unleash the baddest boom since the Big Bang with an announcement that they have found the Higgs Boson, the elusive subatomic particle that, if proven to exist, would go a long way towards explaining why all the other particles act the way they do.
OK, well, not actually “found”.
The researchers are hedging because science is a field where definite statements that are presented as fact require some kind of supporting proof – unlike politics, where people can just say stuff because they’d like it to be true.
So they’re hedging. If the things scientists are saying about the Higgs Boson were said about the car keys I lost the other day, it would sound something like this:
“I’ve found something which may have qualities that are consistent with my car keys. If the keys were wedged into the pocket of the pants I never wear because they’re too tight, you could say that I have seen something like the outline of a shape that could represent them. But because I was looking into a mirror and the pants are painfully small, the image has been erased from my memory and may never be re-created. Please don’t ask me to describe it.”
How’s that for certainty?
It’s possible that two days after issuing this tortured explanation of why I can’t find them, I might locate my missing keys at the bottom of the coat closet, in my shoe. But for now, we’re nowhere close to being able to start the car. But we feel like we’re getting nearer. Sound like news? On the Fourth of July, traditionally a slow day for headlines, it will be!
And this sort of half-announcement should come as no surprise. In the search for Higgs’ Boson, we heard rumors of something that was just shy of a “discovery” last December, and we have talked about it here before.
Not only does this elusive boson magically give other objects mass, it makes wild suppositions and breathless news articles happen! If Rupert Murdoch could harness the power of the boson, surely he would use it to have his tabloids write themselves.
What are you looking for that you can now report you might have almost found?