Sunday, July 8, 2012

Doctor Justice discovers the Higgs boson

In recent months, and again in recent days, we have been inundated with articles, of various degrees of truthitude, proclaiming the possible maybe discovery (perhaps) of (if our calculations did not somewhere go astray or awry  -- a more than likely circumstance, nevertheless) indirect and inferential (not to say wishful) evidence of something  (or so it seemed to us at the time, for we had already bought the champagne) “remarkably like”  -- remarkably like -- a Higgs boson.   (Since no-one has ever actually seen one, we may logically wonder about the criteria for being “remarkably like” some unknown thing;  but let it pass.)
Quite a fudge-phrase, that.  “The murderer looked remarkably like the Pope” will not serve to send the Pontiff to prison.
But in recent hours, there has been a startling development.

My wife and I, despite the heat, went out, somewhat after sunrise, for what turned out to be (despite the early hour) a sticky-sweaty walk around the lake and down to the dock.   Though I had been generous with the sunscreen, soon the backs of my hands began to prickle.   This phenomenon, although more likely on hot days, does not correlate strictly with temperature.  Just as one must include such factors as humidity and breeze in the discomfort-mix, so too  atmospheric phenomena  with no ready name, and unreported by meteorologists, may well play a role.
Personally, I suspect variations in the solar wind.
“The sunscreen is fine against photons,” I remarked.  “But there are many more particles than that, bombarding us from the Sun.  Mesons, neutrinos -- well, those are probably harmless, but -- protons, neutrons, and -- Ouch!”
My wife glanced over, alarmed, with a what-is-it look.
“I just got stung!” I cried, vigorously rubbing the back of my hand.
She looked around dubiously.  “There aren’t any insects out yet.”
“Exactly!  That transient impact can only have been made by a supermassive particle of spin zero, obeying bosonic rather than fermionic statistics, its decay-products stimulating my C-fibres!”
She drew back.  “You -- d-don’t mean…?!”
“But I do!”  Triumphantly.  “A Higgs boson -- captured live for the first time.”

And thus the elusive particle -- now renamed the Higgs-Justice boson, or, better yet, the Justice-Higgs ® (in popular writing, you can refer to it simply as “Justice plus some other guy”), enters the annals of science at last.

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