copyright 2014 by Paula S. Jordan
As babies, we face a bewilderment of questions.
Who is holding me, feeding me? What is it that I hear, touch, see?
‘When’ and ‘where’ will come later, but among our earliest, and likely the first we actually vocalize, is that gold-standard of questions, ‘why!’
The minute any of us little humans latch onto that one, our whole world becomes a place of mystery and challenge, where every answer generates more questions that must have answers of their own. And we begin to drive our parents mad.
Some of our questions have no answer at all, and we discover as we grow that those are the very best. They can tease and intrigue us for the rest of our lives, each small discovery bringing its gifts of knowledge and satisfaction.
Many of us find a profession in technology or history or (ahem) writing, any source of ongoing challenge that gratifies that ardor in us. Others seem to redirect or rephrase or, sadly, even quash the drive. Still others, perhaps the most blessed and cursed of us all, follow its lure to a lifetime of experiment and study, and perhaps to newfound truths about the universe.
Our history, our ongoing, stair-step advancement as intelligent beings, is way-marked by such paradigm-shifting discoveries. And yet the greatest of them, particularly in today’s sciences, leave so many of us cold.
The Higgs Boson, the most important discovery of recent times, was also one of the most dramatic, coming at an early stage in what was expected to be a search of many years, if indeed it could be found at all. Yet it flew by most of us in a day.
As with other ‘whys,’ the reasons for such disinterest are many. But for the Higgs, at least, there is a solution.
Go and find, somehow, somewhere, a video documentary called “Particle Fever.” Forty-plus scientists, actually working on the Large Hadron Collider, will explain their work to you, show you live videos of various construction and testing phases, and share their jubilant celebration at their success.
It will electrify you.