Mike Lamont : The Higgs Mechanic:

We still remember Neils Bohr’s definition of an Atom – “Smallest invisible particle of matter”. Now we know that atom is made of subatomic particles (electrons, protons,neutrons) and the subatomic particles are made of quarks, antiquarks and what not? However, theoretically these existing subatomic particles should not have any mass. So, the question is what gives these particles mass? Or what exactly is matter made of?

During the 1970s, physicists Peter Higgs, Robert Brout and François Englert came up with a solution to solve this conundrum. They suggested that all particles had no mass just after the Big Bang. As the Universe cooled and the temperature fell below a critical value, an invisible force field called the ‘Higgs field’ was formed together with the associated ‘Higgs boson particles’. The field prevails throughout the cosmos: any particles that interact with it are given a mass via the Higgs boson. The more they interact, the heavier they become, whereas particles that never interact are left with no mass at all.However, no one knows whether Higgs particles do really exist. Due to their mystical nature and all pervasiveness, the media called it “God Particles” ☺.

To find sub-atomic particles, it is necessary to collide other particles together at high energies using a machine such as the £5bn Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in CERN, which accelerates sub-atomic particles called hadrons at 99.9999991 per cent of the speed of light. Mike Lamont heads the LHC operations group. The group of about 80 engineers staffs the LHC control room in shifts and coordinates hundreds of others working on the superconduct- ing magnets, accelerating chambers and other equipment arrayed around the LHC’s 27-kilometre ring near Geneva, Switzerland, all to keep the data flowing without overtaxing the machine. This year, the LHC produced 500 trillion proton–proton colli- sions, 100 times more than in 2010, generating a torrent of data that has allowed scientists to collect suggestive — but not definitive — indications of a Higgs boson with a mass of about 125 gigaelectron- volts. Lamont, a physicist who joined the LHC preparation team in 2001, was among those who worked frantically to restart the machine after an accident in 2008 shut it down. He insists that getting the collider back online was all down to teamwork. His goal for the next year is to deliver three times more data than in 2011 — hopefully enough either to confirm that the hint of the Higgs was real, or to rule it out.

Personally, I feel both theoretical physics and Rumi’s Poetry needs an enlightened mind to understand in completely. Does Mike Lamont have it in him?
· · · December 23, 2011 near Singapore, Singapore

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