Focusing on the nonmathematical assumptions underlying significant events in modern science, Bjørn Ekeberg offers a critical history of contemporary physics that demystifies such concepts as singularity, blackbody radiation, the speed of light, natural constants, black holes, dark matter, and more. His reading of the metaphysical underpinnings of scientific cosmology offers an account of how we understand our place in the universe.
So much for the vertices at which particle tracks meet \\u2014 or begin (if a neutral particle converts into two or more charged particles) or end (if charged particles convert into one or more neutral particles). To account for the tracks themselves, one must treat the bubbles in a bubble chamber photograph (or the position-indicators in other records of particle tracks) as the outcome of a single measurements with a gazillion possible outcomes, we must methodically estimate the probability of an outcome containing tracks, and we must compare the same with the probability of an outcome in which no tracks have formed. These probabilities depend on the statistical correlations between the possible position-indicating events, and these correlations depend on the average distance D between those events and on the sharpness of the positions indicated. Particle detectors are designed so that D is sufficiently large while the indicated positions are rather poorly defined by quantum standards. Under these conditions the conservation laws for energy and momentum ensure that the probability of an outcome containing tracks is larger by an enormous factor than the probability of an outcome in which no tracks are seen.
First, however, let me say something about the nature and limitations of the process of scientific discovery by means of the event that led to the discovery of the Higgs boson. Peter Higgs first postulated the existence of the Higgs boson in 1965. That postulate formed part of what has become known as the standard model - a physical theory which sought to unite in a single account the electromagnetic, weak and strong interactions between sub-atomic particles. These are three of the four basic forces in nature, the other being gravitation.
The other thing this discovery illustrates is the ever present gap between theory and verification. The standard model was enormously successful in its account of the basic particles and the forces through which they interact. It was mathematically satisfying and elegantly based on notions of physical symmetry. Yet no one would ever have suggested that it must be correct regardless of any process of empirical verification. Such a process of verification lies at the heart of the scientific method. Theories are not self-verifying but always remain hypothetical constructs, subject to the next round of possible verification or falsification from the data. 59ce067264