Tag Archives: Peter Higgs

Our constitution, July 2012: Treaties and war

Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980: War is murder writ large.

“Parliamentary control of treaties and war-making power, etc”

Today, a Higgs boson particle was discovered – a scientific discovery that confirms the Standard Model physics uses to explain the structure of the universe, first proposed by Peter Higgs of Edinburgh University. This is a great day, and not one I would have wanted to use to discuss treaties and war.

Carl Sagan, Cosmos, 1980

There is no other species on the Earth that does science. It is, so far, entirely a human invention, evolved by natural selection in the cerebral cortex for one simple reason: it works. It is not perfect. It can be misused. It is only a tool. But it is by far the best tool we have, self-correcting, ongoing, applicable to everything. It has two rules. First: there are no sacred truths; all assumptions must be critically examined; arguments from authority are worthless. Second: whatever is inconsistent with the facts must be discarded or revised. We must understand the Cosmos as it is and not confuse how it is with how we wish it to be.

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Filed under Education, Elections, Scottish Constitution, Scottish Culture, Scottish Politics, War

Physics is fun

Gravity is “just a theory”, like evolution, you know.

Peter Higgs is Professor Emeritus of the school of physics and astronomy at the University of Edinburgh. In 1964 he wrote a paper in which he proposed a new particle which explained a missing part of the Standard Model of physics: the Higgs Boson. (A paper he wrote which presents the history of his idea for physicists: My Life As a Boson.)

Peter MacDonald interviewed him for the BBC in February this year:

First, here’s the problem: take an object – say Isaac Newton’s apocryphal apple. Here on Earth, it weighs something. But even if you put the apple in the weightlessness of space it will still have mass. Why? Where does mass come from?

Newton couldn’t explain that. Neither could Einstein. But in 1964 Peter Higgs did.

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Filed under Education, Other stuff on the Internet I like, Unanswerable Questions