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Posts Tagged ‘Superstring Theory’

What Would God Think of the God Particle? (Part 2)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 29, 2013

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP and Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University

Deepak ChopraThe “God particle” seems to be well and truly with us. The award on October 3 of the Nobel Prize in physics that focused on the Higgs boson – the technical term for the God particle – capped a decades-long search that has cost billions of dollars. In the first post we discussed why the discovery of the elusive, fleeting Higgs boson is two-edged. It represents a triumph in human curiosity and our drive to understand the universe. At the same time, however, a huge stumbling block hasn’t been overcome. In fact, the Higgs boson may indicate that creation (whether God exists or not) is becoming ever more mysterious.

The mammoth collider at CERN Switzerland blasted the Higgs boson out of the invisible quantum field so that it could be observed, at the faintest level of measurement and then only for precious milliseconds. But this was enough to disclose the finest level of the subatomic realm so far known to be real. The problem with getting this close to the source of creation is that space, time, gravity, matter, and energy have become more and more ambiguous, as if the quantum revolution hadn’t already done enough in that department. With the probability that so-called “dark” matter and energy may account for 96 percent of the universe – along with another probability, that “dark” stuff doesn’t obey the same laws as visible mater and energy – the picture of creation is undergoing radical revision.

Stephen Hawking added to the ambiguity in his last book, The Grand Design, by siding with those who have basically given up on a Theory of Everything and are settling for a piecemeal patchwork or mosaic of theories, each pertaining to distinct regions of creation while never being synthesized into one grand design. If God exists, the deity must be smiling. For behind the high fives and hoopla over the Higgs boson, there’s a growing doubt that we are anywhere near to understanding the nature of reality. These doubts arise from two major sources.

First, there’s broad agreement that science doesn’t comprehensively describe reality to begin with. Over a century ago the pioneers of quantum theory dismantled the common-sense notion that the world “out there” consists of hard, solid, tangible things. As one of the greatest of these pioneers, Werner Heisenberg, noted, “The atoms or elementary particles themselves are not real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts.” No one has ever refuted this claim, and when you add into the mixture the Uncertainty Principle, which says that quantum objects can be located only by the probability that they will appear at a certain place (only after it is observed does a particle actually settle into a measurable position), the solid, tangible world is radically undermined. Read the rest of this entry »


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What Would God Think of the God Particle? Part 1

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on October 10, 2013

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP and Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., Fletcher Jones Endowed Professor in Computational Physics, Chapman University

Deepak-chopraThe award of the Nobel Prize in physics generally creates a mental blur for most people, since no one can comprehend the current state of physics without training in advanced mathematics. This year was somewhat different, thanks to a nickname.

As the world learned on October 3, the British physicist Peter Higgs and the Belgian physicist Francois Englert shared the Nobel, as was widely expected in the profession. The award was given for a theory involving a missing particle in the so-called Standard Model of particle physics. The particle had come to be known as the Higgs boson when it was postulated or more popularly as “the God particle” from a 1993 book by Leon Lederman, another Nobel laureate who also served as the director of the prestigious Fermilab.

The discovery last year at CERN in Switzerland of the Higgs boson was a triumph for the Standard Model theory. Higgs and Englert, along with Robert Brout, Gerald Guralnik, C. R. Hagen, and Tom Kibble, had hypothesized the existence of a field filling the entire vacuum of space. If it hadn’t been dubbed the God particle, physicists wouldn’t be saddled with an embarrassing, catchy name. Meant initially as a joke, the enduring moniker suggests that in some way science has reached an ultimate destination. Creation has surrendered its final secret, even if there is no God. But in reality particle physics keeps moving forward, and after the celebration at finding a Higgs boson dies down, new frontiers will open up. Meanwhile, every physicist who is asked about the God particle takes pains to distance himself from the label, including Higgs himself.

Now that God has been invoked in the discussion, however, it’s worth asking if we are getting closer to understanding Him/Her/It in a way that matters beyond the arcane of quantum physics. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why the Universe Is Our Home: It’s Not a Coincidence (Part 2)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on March 27, 2013

By Deepak Chopra, Co-author, ‘Super Brain: Unleashing the Explosive Power of Your Mind to Maximize Health, Happiness, and Spiritual Well-Being’; founder, The Chopra Foundation

Deepak-chopraAt the human level everyone would like to feel that life has meaning, which implies that the setting for life — the universe at large — isn’t a cold void ruled by random chance.  There is a huge gap here, and for the past century science hasn’t budged from its grandest assumption, that creation is ruled by random events. There was good reason for this adamant position. The mathematics of modern physics is a marvel of precision and accuracy.  No guiding hand, creator, higher intelligence or deity was needed as long as the equations worked.

Now there is a crack in the theory, tiny at first but opening into a fissure, that casts doubt on how science observes the universe. The fault isn’t that the mathematics was wobbly and loose. Quite the opposite.  The universe is too finely tuned to fit the random model.  God isn’t going to leap into the breach, although religion has reason to feel better about not accepting the so-called “accidental universe.”  The real fascination lies in how to match reality “out there” with the potentiality of the human mind.  Both are up for grabs.

In the modern era, Sir Arthur Eddington and especially Paul Dirac first noticed that certain “coincidences” in dimensionless ratios can be found. These ratios link microscopic with macroscopic quantities. For example, the ratio of the electric force to gravitational force (presumably a constant), is a large number (about 1040), while the ratio of the observable size of the universe (which is presumably changing) to the size of an elementary particle is also a large number, surprisingly close to the first number (also about 1040).   It is hard to imagine that two very large and unrelated numbers would turn out to be so close to each other.  Why are they? (For earlier examples of fine tuning, please see our first post, which gives some general background as well.)

Dirac argued that these fundamental numbers must be related. The essential problem is that the size of the universe is changing as the cosmos expands, while the first relationship is presumably constant, given that it involves only two supposed “constants.” Why should two very large numbers, one variable and the other not variable, be so close to each other?  (It’s like seeing a person’s vocal chords vibrating in all kinds of ways and yet discovering that each word he speaks is exactly half a second apart — even this image is a simplification compared to the actual problem, which spans similar ratios in terms of light years and time in the trillionth of a second.) Read the rest of this entry »

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