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Happiness is Higgs shaped
on 5 February 2013
Disappointing is my verdict on this book. I selected it on the basis of a review in a learned journal that is obviously above my intellectual comfort level. I had expected a short resume of the position of the Higgs in the particle physics firmament and some sort of timescale on its discovery. I may have read those things but if so, it was not that clear.
What I did learn was that the `Higgs' is actually three entities all carrying that name: the Mechanism, the Field and the Particle. It was emphasised how the `discovery' is not such a precise moment. The experiments at CERN continued for a some time with the results analysed in minute detail until a recognisable pattern emerged from the mass of data. When this discontinuity was sufficiently prominent and its characteristics closely aligned with theoretical expectations, the scientists allowed themselves to go public and announce their discovery.
Dr Randall is clearly an enthusiast. She bubbles over with joy about the Higgs discovery and I'm a little sad that I was unable to share her fun. The problem lay in my inadequacy in particle physics. She provided a chapter on how the Higgs is recognised by its decay characteristics. Some of these seemed contradictory. Perhaps they are. After all particle physics is full of enigmas.