Science Fans Discuss "God Particle" in Charlottesville Saloon

By: Val Thompson Email
By: Val Thompson Email

March 14, 2013

Scientists are confident that they have now identified the so-called "God particle," and that accomplishment is being celebrated and discussed in Charlottesville.

A program called Science Straight Up hosted University of Virginia physics professor Bob Hirosky to discuss the Higgs boson at the Black Market Moto Saloon Thursday night.

Physicists say they are now confident they have discovered a long-sought subatomic particle at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN. The long-theorized subatomic particle would explain why matter has mass. It is considered a missing cornerstone of physics.

A group of more than a hundred people gathered at the saloon to discuss the importance of this discovery.

"the Higgs boson particle is so abstract," said Brian Muszynski, a Charlottesville resident. "I was wondering how they would talk to the general public about something that most in the science field don't understand."

Melissa Wender, a worker in the U.Va. biology department came to the speech with some particular questions.

"What does this have to do with my life?" said Wender. "Why is this important to me?"

Hirosky offered this explanation:

"The Higgs boson is special because it gives mass to the most fundamental particles," said Hirosky. "This only accounts for about one percent of the universe, but without this mass it's impossible to have atoms and chemistry and everything else we hold dear."

Scientists say the Earth, the sun, and people would not exist without the Higgs boson. That's how the particle gets its nickname as "God particle."

Scientists found the Higgs boson by accelerating protons and smashing them together. The particle is found in the wreckage.

"It shows the cutting edge of science," said Muszynski. "It's how physicists try to explain the universe."

"This is essentially the beach head of confirming some very fundamental theories about how the universe possibly works," said Hirosky.

The crowd was also celebrating Pi Day, which is celebrated March 14. The first three digits of pi are 3.14.

One of the people who attended the event, Bobby Jacobs, is a U.Va. Student who has memorized pi to more than 1,000 decimal places.

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