Ian Sample's blog

Massive goes to Edinburgh

I took the train up to Scotland on Friday to give a talk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. It was special to speak about the book in the city. Not only is it a staggeringly beautiful place, it is home to Peter Higgs, the theoretical physicist who features so prominently in the book.

On the Higgs row and Nobel reform

“The goddess of learning is fabled to have sprung full-grown from the brain of Zeus, but it is seldom that a scientific conception is born in its final form, or owns a single parent.” George Paget Thomson, June 1938.

Speaking in his Nobel lecture, G. P. Thomson (son of J.J.) went on to lay out the history of physics behind the electron, but his comment could easily refer to the Higgs mechanism, which has a muddled parentage at best.

What's next for the Higgs hunters?

And so it goes on. The International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP) in Paris came and went, but  the Higgs boson is still at large. As expected, rumours that the world's most elusive particle had shown up at the Tevatron collider at Fermilab near Chicago failed to materialise into anything more concrete. Nonetheless, there was good news.

Waiting for the Godot particle

To get to Fermilab from downtown Chicago, you find Lake Michigan and drive in the opposite direction. After about an hour on the freeway, the city shrinks to nothing in the rear-view mirror and you pick up an access road that turns into the 7,000 acre campus where the laboratory is based.

Welcome to the blog

Hello! I'll be using this blog to write about issues relating to my book and scientific developments surrounding the Higgs particle. There are plenty of points I plan to cover, not least the history of references to God in physics - and why some are deemed acceptable and others much less so. It would be great if you were to join in with your own thoughts, and of course I welcome any views on the book.