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September 10, 2008

Was Aristotle right about "ether"? LHC may tell us.

With all the recent buzz about the LHC and its awsomeness and/or ability to destroy the galaxy, or at least put a stop to the damn replicators, what is one of the things that might come out of it?

In a nutshell, Aristotle's notion about "ether" posited that there existed this "stuff" that permeated everywhere and everything. IOW, empty space really wasn't empty. It was full of stuff we couldn't see or detect cuz we were too stupid at the time to see or detect it.

The Michelson-Morley Experiment was used to discredit the notion of "ether". However, M-M's results would really only hold if the "ether" were stationary fixed stuff, sort of like a 3-D Newtonian space, with the whole of the universe moving around inside this stationary fixed stuff. Essentially, the ether itself was a reference point. That M-M observed no difference in the speed of light in their experiment was deemed proof that this stationary fixed ether didn't exist. Lorentz and some other heavyweights viewed the results differently claiming the ether imposed a contraction effect on the M-M apparatus, but they lost the argument and Einstein's special relativity held the day.

Enter the theoretical Higgs Boson. The simplified concept of Higgs Boson is somewhat analogous to Aristotle's old notion of Ether.
There's a field of HB out there that are interacting with known particles. When a particle interacts with a HB, one of the things the theoretical HB is supposed to do is give the attribute we know as mass.

So, one of the things the LHC will be looking to prove or disprove is the existence of the Higgs Boson. If the HB exists, Lorentz and Aristotle can be scientifically "rehabilitated" to a large degree and Einstein goes in the doghouse.

Pretty heady stuff. Having a kickass doomsday weapon that will stop the replicators seems to be the most practical everyday result though. I'm still a bit concerned and took out some extra life insurance just in case we destroy the universe by accident.

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posted by Purp at 01:18 AM

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