Legitimate questions. Although it's really only the first question that CERN occupies itself with, and this through a philosophically flawed methodology. What they are doing is the pinnacle of over half a decade of flimflam which we today know as high energy particle physics.
Before I begin pointing out the questionable antics of named organization, one must understand that they are operating within a paradigm which have been dominant in the world of physics since the mid 20th century, a system which is centered around a
- which has allowed itself to grow into a labyrinth with never ending invisible walls - the
Knowing the history of it is good, and I urge everyone with an interest to study up on it. If not else it's pretty entertaining stuff, especially if absurdism is your thing. The works of Alexander Unzicker* is a good start, either
However a short presentation and a couple of examples will be enough to demonstrate it's fundamental fallacies.
As you shall see it is rather self-evident.
"Today I have done something that a theoretical physicist should never have done. I replaced something we don't understand with something we can't measure."**
Today this has become common practice within the field.
Going into the 40's we had 5 detected particles and 1 undetectable. A couple more joined the party during the decade, but this was nothing compared to what the coming age of high energy physics i.e. particle accelerators was about to add.
|... a couple of decades later the amount was reaching one hundred ...|
In the mid sixties the number had grown to ~80! The high number of particles was confusing to the scientists at the time as they were classified as elementary
particles - the most elementary/smallest parts of all matter (today the term elementary particle has a more specified meaning).
But it turned out all these new particles had smaller building blocks: quarks.
Thus eliminating the uncomfortable high number of elementary particles.
Three types of quarks was introduced: up, down and strange. The last one getting it's name because it didn't confine to the consensus of how particles should behave [sic]. But it didn't end there, later three more flavors was discovered: top, bottom and charm.
6 quarks in total.
But this is not all they also come in different "color charges", blue
. And they all have their anti-counterpart, the anti-quarks. This might be confusing, so here's a list of all quarks and anti-quarks:
|First there were 6...|
And here's the kicker: due to an idea called confinement
, quarks can never be observed. Here's a description directly from Wikipedia that ... well, read for yourself:
Confinement, which means that the force between quarks does not diminish as they are separated. Because of this, when you do separate a quark from other quarks, the energy in the gluon field is enough to create another quark pair; they are thus forever bound into hadrons such as the proton and the neutron or the pion and kaon. Although analytically unproven, confinement is widely believed to be true because it explains the consistent failure of free quark searches, and it is easy to demonstrate in lattice QCD. [my bold]
A sloppy ad hoc-solution to some, reasonable to others.
Quarks aren't the only type of elementary particles though, we also have leptons and bosons, they of course also come in different forms.
|Very simplified presentation of the elementary particles as we know them today.|
Equally evasive are the bosons, here is an example of how they went about to "confirm" the existence of the Z boson, which by the way had to be found as the theories otherwise would fail:
The huge Gargamelle bubble chamber photographed the tracks of a few electrons suddenly starting to move, seemingly of their own accord. This is interpreted as a neutrino interacting with the electron by the exchange of an unseen Z boson. The neutrino is otherwise undetectable, so the only observable effect is the momentum imparted to the electron by the interaction. (source)
Worth mentioning is that Z (and W) bosons have such short lifetimes (10-25
sec) that they can never make it into a detector, it's the "signature" of an electron emitting an undetectable neutrino
that's supposed to seal the deal, so to speak. The term pseudo-science comes to mind, but maybe it's just me.
So how many particles are we counting today, in 2016? Counting all flavors, colors, forces, anti-particles, higgses and so forth, here's the number I could find***:
63 elementary particles.
There could be errors in the numbers, but in the end who cares, they're just going to keep on finding new higgses and anti-charm lambda-bambas so why even bother.
If I cannot say a priori what elementary propositions there are, then the attempt to do so must lead to obvious nonsense - Ludwig Wittgenstein
The Science of Interpretation
I have to tip my hat to the PR team at CERN because before I dug into these matters my idea of what they were doing with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was filled with mumbojumbo regarding minuscule black holes, dimensional rifts, vacuum bubbles and what not. Albeit very exciting but very far from reality.
Now I know that their main purpose is to test various theoretical models within particle- and high energy physics - to explore the reaches of the standard model.
A detailed example of what they are actually
doing can be seen in this excerpt from their annual report (2015):
"The new ATLAS and CMS results do not show any significant excesses that could indicate the presence of particles predicted by alternative models such as supersymmetry. The two experiments have therefore established new limits for the masses of these hypothetical new particles. [...] This is just one of the many results that were presented on 15 December." (source)
In other words, they search for hypothetical new (?!) particles in different spectra and if they don't find them, they determine that these particles must be of a different nature than theoretically assumed.
When the Higgs boson was confirmed late 2012 it was referred to as the "God particle" (what's that even supposed to mean?) in the press and conveniently saved many a man's reputation as well as justified the ongoing expenses of the whole project, which at the time was close to $13.25 billion [sic].
|Needeles in a needlestack/colliding particles. |
Here's another way to discover the Higgs boson.
Let's examine the process of how they found the Higgs boson and show the contrasts between their way of going about and the actual scientific method
they claim to represent:
In short: Two independent teams (ATLAS and CMS) with the explicit purpose of finding the Higgs boson collide hundreds of billions
of protons into each other and interpret the collisions.
|The particle accelerator at CERN.|
This is not entirely unproblematic.
The life times of many of the particles aren't long enough for them to travel the distance of a proton's radius, even lesser so into a detector. The W boson and top quark for example have no way of leaving the colliding point in which hundreds of millions of proton pairs smashes into one another every second.
Another problem is that the scatter process is not fully understood, as Unzicker puts it "a reliable theory of how accelerated charges radiate just does not exist".(source
This could partly be because the size of the proton is still a subject of debate
So, out of ~one trillion
proton-proton collisions, maybe one of them will create a Higgs particle which instantly decays into other particles, mostly photon pairs, which by the way most other proton-proton collision also decays into.(source
If each of the LHC's 500 trillion collisions were represented by a grain of sand, they would fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool, yet the grains from the signals of interest — the possible Higgses — would cover only the tip of your finger. (source)
-Joe Incandela, [...] spokesman for the CMS team at LHC
Looking for a grain of sand in a swimming pool of sand ...
|Found anything yet?|
Assuming every single line of the immense body of computer code is correct and the detector calibration is flawless in every regard, we are still left with two groups of people with the specific goal
of finding this and that by interpreting collision artifacts, whose complexity nobody fully understands.
Not to mention that that these teams are in charge of every instance of the experiment involving everything from beaming and detector calibration to data gathering, selection and analyze. Instead of having one independent group focusing on for example the detector calibration, the teams deals with everything.
All this behind locked doors, without public scrutiny.
Now consider the outcomes:
1. They find it
. Fame and fortune awaits, Nobel prizes are being handed out, their employment is safe etc.
2. They don't find it
. Justifying further grants will be challenging, but it will be even harder to face the possibility that the standard model might contain fundamental errors - a situation which would have immense effects on thousands of people's careers and life work, including many of who are directly involved today.
And we're supposed to blindly take their word for it?
So far the bill for the LHC is around $18 billion (source
). The annual costs for keeping it running is around $1.25 billion. By now it should be evident that even if they indeed did find Higgs the beneficial aspects of the discovery for humankind are diddly-squat, just one more addition to the particle zoo
The ideal way of conducting science, as proposed by the Age of Enlightment, is since long dead. The world of science today is heavily dependent on money and glory. Two factors that we all too often underestimate. It's not hard to see how a scientific result might be affected by the possibility of loosing one's (or other people's) income or prestige.
"Nearly all scientists are employed by some large organization, such as a government department, a university, or a multinational company. Only rarely are they free to express their science as a personal view. They may think that they are free, but in reality they are, nearly all of them, employees; they have traded freedom of thought for good working conditions, a steady income and a pension." -James Lovelock, The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of our Living Earth
And of course: an identity.
Looking back at our history, one finds that most breakthroughs have come not through a slowly evolving consensus, but rather through maverick individuals, who's ideas swiftly shook up the established ground.
“In the sciences, the authority of thousands of opinions is not worth as much as one tiny spark of reason in an individual man.”― Galileo Galilei
When looking at the standard model of today one can't help but to be reminded of the epicycle model
. A geocentric astronomical model prevalent from ~300 BC to the late middle ages. In order for the proponents of the theory to explain the ever growing mountain of problems associated with normal sky observations, epicycles was invented. This explained the movements of the heavenly bodies without having to adjust Earths position as the center of the solar system.
The epicycles became more and more complex as time went by. Galileo, Kepler and Kopernicus of course changed all that, but to a high personal price; after all they questioned a system which had been in commonplace for almost 2000 years.
|Beautiful and positively gut wrenching at the same time.|
We see a great resemblance today within physics: extreme complexity, non accurate predictions, ad hoc-solutions, parroting, the good old "so many people can't be wrong for such a long time", great resistance towards alternatives etc..
They say we know better today, but that's what they've always said. If one does some digging they will find that our very recent history is filled with mistakes not only in physics but in all scientific disciplines. Dogmatism in particular never seem to fade away ...
If the Higgs is not discovered, I think it's practically certain that there is something else in nature which is equally interesting, and maybe even more interesting, that will create the symmetry breaking required by the standard model; and why do I say that it's required? Because the standard model is so good.
- Jerome Friedman, Nobel Prize Physics 1990 (source)
When hearing statements like the one above one has to cringe a little, because when it comes down to it this is someone who is supposed to represent science and the scientific method, saying that there's no room for alternative models in physics.
What happens when you have this mindset and don't find what you're looking for?
No matter how much the followers keep on saying that the standard model is the best model ever (which they keep on saying by the way, as if they have to keep on reminding themselves), it hasn't gotten close to resolve any of the following basic problems in physics:
- Contradictions of Electrodynamics
- Compute Masses
- Compute Mass Ratios
- Compute Lifetimes
- Compute Fine Structure Constant
- Relation and Nature of Gravity
- Origin of Spin
- Origin of Radioactivity
- Nature of Space, Time and Inertia
"A model that says nothing about all these fundamental questions is crap."
- Alexander Unzicker