Sunday, 18 November 2007

Jo Shapcott, fields of Higg Bosons and weightier matters

I was reading Pavlova’s Physics by Jo Shapcott on Friday night in bed. By a strange synchronicity there is an article in the Guardian this Saturday about the physicist Peter Higgs, the man who is responsible for the theory that initiated the search for the mysterious Higgs Boson or God’s Particle, as some have named it. I do want to assure you dear reader that I do not search for a poem to support the strange unravelling of my mind and thoughts in this blog, it actually happens the other way round. I read or hear a poem and somehow connections are built in my rather warped psyche. It is probably more of an organic dialogue, a chicken and egg puzzler, the big bang as cause and effect, life as past, present and future…chronology being less important than we may assume. We are of course obsessed by the question what came first but a linear universe and a linear life can be smoke and mirrors. Perhaps I am being effected by having watched the film Donnie Darko for the third time last night and still being satisfyingly mystified as to the finer points; the discussion of which I will leave to the geek and cult fans who proliferate out there in the temporal vortex.

However this article helped feed my penchant for physics in an understandable form. I did Pure Maths A Level back in the prime of my unbounded and untrammelled synaptic pathways' youth and purely ( excuse the weak pun) because I saw it as beautiful; a mathematical theory, co-ordinate geometry and an algebraic solution to a problem that just exists solely to be solved by such means, was somehow beautiful. Mathematical theories have a rhythm and a pulse to them; much like a brilliant poem in a form. If this then this, but this can unexpectedly open up that which leads to all these etc etc. There is also this response by physicist Simon Hands, who works at the Cern Accelerator, to explain what a Higgs Boson is and why proving its existence is important. It was written in response to a challenge to explain it all on one side of A4.It is a theroetical physics version of a haiku.

I defy any poet or creative writer not to be interested in the particular and the universal that this branch of particle physics looks at.

We only have mass because we move through an invisible field, how we move through that field determines our mass, some of us are more effected than others and therefore are weighed down more and move more slowly. Others can pass through it relatively unburdened and I use the word relatively in a theoretical sense. The proof of this field lies in destroying at great speed that which we know of already and looking for something we only surmise to be there. The grass has always been greener in another field but will we then know how we are as a mass? Can we change anything by knowing how we achieve mass or have mass thrust upon us? Is understanding this in itself its own importance, if how we move through an invisible field explains why we are something made to and of matter? When we broke open an atom we became at the same time Shiva Destroyer of worlds and the creator of light and heat in a kitchen or school. Does God's particle have a beckoning finger?*

Dear reader I think this theory may undoubtedly account for why I now have greater mass, and I am apparently getting heavier, I am merely moving too slowly through fields. This is a function of my greater inertia as it takes a greater time and effort to get me moving these days. Yes dear scientific readers out there, I do know that mass and weight are very different things, I needed to clarify that as I have a greater sense of gravity about me these days and also a greater love of chocolate.

* I think I have this phrase engraved on my psyche from Andre Mangeot's poem 'Forecast' about forthcoming ecological disaster due to global warming

1 comment:

Tom Heneghan said...

Peter Higgs told journalists in Geneva he doesn't like the term "God particle" because it might offend believers -- even though he is not one himself. More on the Reuters religion blog FaithWorld at