Future

Elusive 'God Particle' Discovered After 50-Year Quest (Layman's Explainer Guide Included)

REUTERS, NEW SCIENTIST, CERN (Switzerland)

Worldcrunch

GENEVA - Physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva have announced that they have observed a new subatomic particle that may well be the crucial Higgs boson, a.k.a. the "God particle," thus potentially putting an end to an almost 50-year-long game of hide-and-seek with the elusive particle.

"The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we're seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it's the heaviest boson ever found," said spokesperson Joe Incandela in a press release published on the CERN website.

A little rusty on your particle physics? Here are three attempts at helping the rest of us to understand what all the fuss is about:

-David J. Miller, a physicist at University College London used the following analogy in 1993: Imagine a cocktail party in a ballroom. Regular people can walk around freely, encountering no resistance from other members of the crowd. But when a celebrity – say, Justin Bieber -- shows up, everybody gathers around so tightly that he can hardly move... The partygoers are like Higgs bosons, giving mass to the whole cluster. Bieber represents basically anything in the universe. For once.

-The Higgs field has also been described as an all-pervading "cosmic treacle," a kind of sticky syrup (see image below) spread throughout the universe. Particles moving through the treacle stick to it, slow down, lose energy, and become heavier. Not to mention yummier.

Peter Higgs, the British physicist after whom the particle is named, called this step a great achievement for the Large Hadron Collider, the 27-km (17-mile) long particle accelerator built in a tunnel underneath the French-Swiss border where experiments to search for the boson have taken place, Reuters reports. Higgs added: "I never expected this to happen in my lifetime and shall be asking my family to put some champagne in the fridge."

If confirmed, the discovery would have virtually illimited implications. One of them being that British physicist Stephen Hawking would owe University of Michigan physicist Gordon Kane $100: Back in 2000, Hawking bet Kane that the Higgs boson would never be found, as reported in the magazine New Scientist.

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Migrant Lives

The Other Scandal At The Poland-Belarus Border: Where's The UN?

The United Nations, UNICEF, Red Cross and other international humanitarian organizations seems to be trying to reach the Polish-Belarusian border, where Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko is creating a refugee crisis on purpose.

Migrants in Michalowo, Belarus, next to the border with Poland.

Wojciech Czuchnowski

WARSAW — There is no doubt that the refugees crossing the Belarusian border with Poland — and by extension reaching the European Union — were shepherded through by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. There is more than enough evidence that this is an organized action of the dictator using a network of intermediaries stretching from Africa and the Middle East. But that is not all.

The Belarusian regime has made no secret that its services are guiding refugees to the Polish border, literally pushing them onto (and often, through) the wires.


It can be seen in films made available to the media by... Belarusian border guards and Lukashenko's official information agencies.

Tactics of a strongman

Refugees are not led to the border by "pretend soldiers" in uniforms from a military collectibles store. These are regular formations commanded by state authorities. Their actions violate all rules of peaceful coexistence and humanitarianism to which Belarus has committed itself as a state.

Belarus is dismissed by the "rest of the world" as a hopeless case of a bizarre (although, in the last year, increasingly brutal) dictatorship. But it still formally belongs to a whole range of organizations whose principles it violates every day on the border with Poland.

Indeed, Belarus is a part of the United Nations (it is even listed as a founding state in its declaration), it belongs to the UNICEF, to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and even to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Photo of Polish soldiers setting up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Polish soldiers set up a barbed wire fence in the Border Zone near Krynki, Belarus

Maciej Luczniewski/ZUMA

Lukashenko would never challenge the Red Cross

Each of these entities has specialized bureaus whose task is to intervene wherever conventions and human rights are violated. Each of these organizations should have sent their observers and representatives to the conflict area long ago — and without asking Belarus for permission. They should be operating on both sides of the border, as their presence would certainly make it more difficult to break the law.

An incomprehensible absence

Neither the leader of Poland's ruling party Jaroslaw Kaczyński nor even Lukashenko would dare to keep the UN, UNICEF, OSCE or the Red Cross out of their countries.

In recent weeks, the services of one UN state (Belarus) have been regularly violating the border of another UN state (Poland). In the nearby forests, children are being pushed around and people are dying. Despite all of this, none of the international organizations seems to be trying to reach the border nor taking any kind of action required by their responsibilities.

Their absence in such a critical time and place is completely incomprehensible, and their lack of action raises questions about the use of international treaties and organizations created to protect them.

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