Michio Kaku: The Higgs boson has generated a firestorm of interest in the media. I've gotten quite a bit of email. Some people say that, “Well, the Higgs boson, wasn’t it overhyped? I mean, such grand, grandiose claims and we haven’t yet nailed it down." Well, look at it this way: we physicists don’t create the news. Media people are the ones who massage the news and put it out to the public. We physicists put out a press release and hope and pray that somebody picks it up, but 99% of the time, let’s be real, nothing happens at all. So blame the media if the media hyped up the Higgs boson too much. And the name, the "God Particle," it was a book editor who took a very ordinary title, X’d it out and said, “No, let’s call it the 'God Particle.'” And that’s another reason why the media latched onto this thing.
Now, did we actually find the Higgs boson? And the answer is no. We narrowed it down so that within 95% certainty we know that it’s not in large areas of the mass spectrum of the large Hadron Collider. So some time in 2012 we think we will finally bag the Higgs boson and then the champagne bottles will pop open, and we’ll all have a great time.
The other emails I get ask the question, “So what? So what if we get the Higgs boson? What does it mean?” Well, remember that after 50 years of smashing atoms, plowing protons into protons, we have now hundreds of subatomic particles arranged in what is called the Standard Model, but there is one piece of the jigsaw puzzle missing, and that last piece is called the Higgs boson, so if we don’t find the Higgs boson we’re in deep doo-doo. It means that something is fundamentally wrong with all of modern physics.
So most physicists will believe that yes, we will finally bag the Higgs boson, but then what? Look at the Standard Model. Let’s be blunt about it: the Standard Model is one of the ugliest theories ever proposed in the history of science. It’s a theory that only a mother could love: 36 quarks and anti-quarks, 19 or more free parameters, 3 generations of redundant particles, whole bunches of gluons and Yang-Mills particles and W bosons and Z bosons and Higgs bosons. I mean, you go crazy trying to make sense and order out of this rag-tag bunch of subatomic particles called the Standard Model.
So what do we physicists believe? We think there is a higher theory, a higher theory that includes gravity, which is missing in the Standard Model. Plus, a standard model only describes 4% of the matter and energy content in the universe, just 4%. Dark matter makes up 23%. Dark energy makes up 73%. So a huge chunk of the universe is missing, and that’s why some of us like myself believe in something called String Theory. String Theory, the standard model including the Higgs boson, is nothing but the lowest octave, the lowest octave of a vibrating string. And dark matter, which makes up 23% of the universe is nothing but, like, the next vibration up, the next octave of the string. And then dark energy, well, dark energy, it takes place when you break the symmetries of the super string. So String Theory is the only game in town which has the ability to be really a true theory of everything.
So the next step is to try to find dark matter with the large Hadron Collider. That could go a long ways toward either proving or disproving String Theory.
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