The God Particle
It was a sunny morning when a field trip was scheduled to the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, better known as SLAC. Freshmen students across the board were invited to attend. The university was only a short jaunt up the highway to Palo Alto—less than an hour drive during off rush hours. The students were escorted by professors Wishbone and professor Wisenheirmer.
When they arrived, they were greeted by a research associate assigned to the welcoming committee. The first thing he did was to show them a row of photo portraits of famed scientist of theoretical physics, such as Einstein and Max Planck. He emphasized that Planck was a German theoretical physicist who originated quantum theory, which won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.
The associate then lead them to an aerial view showing the laboratory followed by an artist conception of the lab layout. The main accelerator is 2 miles long—the longest linear accelerator in the world—and has been operational since 1966, he boasted.
Then he went on to explain how scientist are continuing to explore the outer most realms of space, while on the other hand they’re also looking into the deepest realms of inner space—uncovering mysteries of subatomic particles to the structure of matter.
“As far as atom smashing is concerned,” the associate continued, “The work at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland is currently leading edge; especially with the discovery of the Higgs boson, also known as The God Particle. See the photograph on the wall. Physicists believe that the boson, and the energy field associated with it, were key to the formation of the universe 13.7 billion years ago—bringing together particles in the wake of the Big Bang, and helping stars and planets to form.”
Just then Professor Wishbone nudged his way through the crowd and confronted the associate saying, “What’s the deal with the nomenclature ‘The God Particle?’ What God particle? I’m a Paleontology guru, and not savvy in these theories of particle physics.”
Wisenheirmer, who was standing near said under his breath, “Oh boy, here we go. He’s gonna lock horns with this unsuspecting research associate.”
The associate responded, “I understand your concern. In fact, many scientist are not comfortable with the name ‘God Particle.’ They also object because of the religious connotations, Believe me, there has been, and still is, a great deal of ruckus among talking heads from both the secular and religious scientific communities.”
“So those scientist that do accept the name,” continued Wishbone, “are they trying to say that God exist? What solid proof do they have?”
“It’s just a name professor. For the religious population, the God Particle, is just like any other particle—a neutron, a meson, or quark—it’s God’s particle.”
“There you go again.”
After the tour, everyone headed outside to the buses for the return trip. At that time Wishbone approached Wisenheirmer and asked him, “What’s that smirk on your face all about?”
“It’s just a name professor,” Wisenheirmer replied. “Remember these guys are called ‘theoretical’ physicist. Theory, it’s all just theory. Similar to much of our work.”
As the buses pulled off, professor Wishbone seemed to still pout about the entire experience. In the mean time, some of the students tried not to show their attempts to hold in their inner ridicule of how foolish the professor came across.
The following YouTube video shows clips from a typical tour of the complex: