"Except for the point, the still point, there would be no dance, and there is only the dance." ~ T.S. Eliot in "Burnt Norton"

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Higgs Boson You Guys!

I woke up this morning with great anticipation to read the news. The same kind of anticipation, I suppose, that propels some people out of bed Christmas morning. An amazing discovery. I even teared up a little when Peter Higgs talked about how he didn't think this would happen in his lifetime.

I'm posting this song by Lungfish, called Fearfully and Wonderfully. For two reasons: 1) the singer of Lungfish (one of my favorite bands) is Dan Higgs, and in my head, the Higgs Boson particle is named after him. He's kind of a poet, and I think in times like this, we should turn to scientists and poets; and 2) it sort of explains how I'm taking this moment-- there is an unknown that could shake up a lot of what we know as the Universe-with-a-capital-U, which can be fearful, but also wonderful.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. (Sorry for the two previous false starts -- formatting errors)

    Science is not a language I speak. Sometimes I find myself attempting to wade
    through the swamps of a discipline I could never hope to truly understand. So, when I heard about the Higgs Boson, my emotions didn’t change; my eyes didn’t flicker any more than if I’d changed the TV channel.

    I clearly didn’t take the time to understand. But when I found your post, Tina, I instantly knew I’d made a mistake by writing off the discovery. I began to do more reading, and discovered this was the allusive “God Particle” portrayed in the fringes of the media.

    To be honest, I’m still on the academic level of a parakeet when it comes to this discovery – that is, I can repeat verbatim what I read, but understanding goes beyond my meager comprehension skills. Now, I’ve wrapped my head around the “God Particle” concept, but attempting the mechanics is like trying to read Mandarin. Ain’t gonna happen.

    But you did something pretty cool, Tina. You posted a song to describe your feelings about it. Music offers a few really awesome parallels here.

    Few people understand the mechanics of music. The notes, the pitch, the beat. Few can know the subtleties required for a nuanced piano concerto, or the ingenuity required for a 12-part choral oratorio. But everyone can understand beauty. They recognize it when they see it, and when they hear it.

    I look at the Higgs Boson, read the journalist’s hopeless attempts to characterize it, and get some loose grip on what’s happening … and suddenly I feel like this is the most beautiful scientific discovery of my lifetime (you know, all 20 years of it). Do I understand it? Not really, no. Am I taking my cues from others who actually do understand it? Yeah, definitely. Does that make it any less beautiful to me? Not particularly.

    Music, science, and theology all run in this same vein for me. I don’t have to be an expert to see expertise in front of me. I don’t have to be an artist to recognize art. I don’t have to know what makes something beautiful for it to be beautiful.

    I’m weird, so I collect film scores. I have since I was 10 years old. When I read “God Particle” for the first time, I didn’t think of “A tiny subatomic particle that apparently weighs about 130 times as much as an atom of hydrogen, the lightest gas.” I thought of a track from the film score “Angels and Demons” called… you guessed it… “God Particle.”

    Here’s that track, but from the same score, I find “Election by Adoration” to be slightly more appropriate. Not for name’s sake, but for conveying just how beautiful science can be.



    1. Well, it looks like we weren't the only ones thinking about music when we learned about this.