Friday, Oct 24, 2014
Joyce Minor

Who is Higgs Bosan?


Published:

This may be editorial suicide, but I can't resist trying to explain something I don't even pretend to understand myself. (And if you can make sense of that convoluted idea you're way ahead of me already.)

Last week something happened that has managed to anger atheists and delight Christians worldwide. No, it's not a new Bible translation. It's the awarding of the Nobel Prize for physics to Peter Higgs and Francois Englert for the discovery of a subatomic particle popularly known as "the God particle."

Its actual name is Higgs Boson. No, that's not a person. It's a thing. The idea is that bosons are particles that form into a field of particles, sort of like a cosmic gel, which acts on other particles allowing them to do what they do, mass together.

More than 40 years ago, physicists postulated the existence of the boson in a theory they called the Standard Model. It explains how particles moving at the speed of light get slowed down so that eventually they can stick together and form matter, thus creating all sorts of very complex things from planets to people - hence the name, God particle.

Scientific purists hate the nickname because it seems to support the existence of God. Christians love the name, but aren't sure if the whole discovery actually reduces God to nothing more than a cosmic accident akin to the big bang theory.

As far as we know, it was actually writer Leon Lederman who dubbed it "The God Particle" in his book by that name. To me, anything that gets people talking about God and the wonders of creation can't be all bad.

Another interesting observation arising from this year's Nobel Prize competition is the awarding of the peace prize to the OPCW global chemical weapons watchdog. Excuse me, but isn't that the organization that failed miserably allowing Syria to gas more than 4,000 of its own citizens?

Almost any of the other nominees would have been a better choice, but what can we expect from an organization that awarded the peace prize to Barak Obama before he did anything other than get elected?

My preference for this year's prize? Malala Yousafzai. She's the brave Pakistani girl who endured near-fatal attacks from the Taliban because she insisted on getting an education. Since her recovery, Malala has bravely spoken out advocating women's rights worldwide, including an address to the UN General Assembly just last week.

My second choice would be Egyptian computer scientist Sister Maggie Gobran. She abdicated a promising academic career to become a Coptic Christian nun. Since 1989 she has headed Stephen's Children, a charity that reaches out across religious boundaries to help the needy and neglected in Cairo slums. She was nominated by law enforcement groups from several nations, including the U.S.

What I'd like to know is who's on the committee that chooses the Nobel winners? I can understand that scientists are the only ones qualified to choose science winners. But who decides on the peace prize? Whoever they are, that group needs some new blood. I looked up their names and found that they are all Norwegians and have to be, according to the rules set forth by the will of the late billionaire Alfred Nobel.

Now, don't get me wrong. I like Norwegians. In fact I have two good friends who are Norwegian. Still, it seems a little short-sighted to limit the judging panel to that nationality alone. It not only gives them huge powers and a difficult task, it also gives them the blame.

On the other hand, maybe it gives them a good excuse as well - brain freeze.

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