The Higgs boson (the God particle) is more relevant than God?
|July 19, 2012||Posted by News under Cosmology, News|
So Larry Krauss suggests.
In “Barry Dainton on the Higgs Boson Particle” (Philosophy in the City, 09 Jul 2012), we read that Larry Krauss has said,
“Assuming the particle in question is indeed the Higgs, it validates an unprecedented revolution in our understanding of fundamental physics and brings science closer to dispensing with the need for any supernatural shenanigans all the way back to the beginning of the universe … a Higgs field validates the notion that seemingly empty space may contain the seeds of our existence. This idea is at the heart of one of the boldest predictions of cosmology, called inflation. This posits that a similar type of background field was established in the earliest moments of the big bang, causing a microscopic region to expand by more than 85 orders of magnitude in a fraction of a second, after which the energy contained in otherwise empty space was converted into all the matter and radiation we see today! Alan Guth, the originator of the theory, called it “the ultimate free lunch.” If these bold, some would say arrogant, notions derive support from the remarkable results at the Large Hadron Collider, they may reinforce two potentially uncomfortable possibilities: first, that many features of our universe, including our existence, may be accidental consequences of conditions associated with the universe’s birth; and second, that creating “stuff” from “no stuff” seems to be no problem at all—everything we see could have emerged as a purposeless quantum burp in space or perhaps a quantum burp of space itself. Humans, with their remarkable tools and their remarkable brains, may have just taken a giant step toward replacing metaphysical speculation with empirically verifiable knowledge. The Higgs particle is now arguably more relevant than God.”
The inflationary cosmological theory that Krauss is talking about here is certainly a bold and important contribution to our understanding of our origins. It is amazing to learn that all the matter and energy in our vast universe could have sprung from a tiny random fluctuation in what looks like empty space. But when Krauss describes it is an “unprecedented revolution in our understanding of fundamental physics”, one which brings us “closer to dispensing with the need for any supernatural shenanigans all the way back to the beginning of the universe” he is seems to be suggesting that we now have a scientific explanation of everything, of why the universe takes the form that it does, why there is something rather than nothing. But this is simply (and seriously) wrong. What the inflationary theory allows us to do is understand how something with the size and complexity of our universe could come into existence given the laws of physics and physical fields which exist in our universe. Far from explaining why these laws exist, the inflationary theory—like any theory in physics—necessarily presupposes the existence of the laws. The ultimate questions are therefore left unanswered.
Wait a minute? Larry Krauss? Oh yeah, him: Last heard from calling a philosopher “moronic”:
Physicists attack philosophy when they are no longer doing good physics