The Higgs Boson and the Meaning of Life

Here’s the video from a talk I gave at Skepticon V last month. It’s basically a superposition of a Higgs-boson talk with the From Particles to People talk. How is such a feat even possible, you may ask? Well, it wasn’t easy.

Fortunately, this talk is only 50 minutes long; it’s not like sitting through 15 hours of Moving Naturalism Forward videos.

This is the talk, by the way, from which the little picture of me at the top right corner of the blog was taken. I like it because it appears that I am looking at each new blog post with skeptical bemusement.

Also, at one point I said “light years” when I meant “miles” (talking about Voyager). They may take my scientist card away for that one.

  1. You can say that the human mind is just a collection of atoms and bosons and particles etc., but why is it that when you remove half of a persons brain he still remains the same individual? It has been necessary in various cases. It would make sense the person would become an entirely different person. It is my belief that the intellect is in reality outside of the physical universe, functioning in a higher dimension, with the physical body making it possible for it to interact in this one. What ever the intellect is made of, it seems to be a time machine, observing the past and speculating as to the future. What’s the meaning of creation, well for me if it wasn’t here neither would I or you or anyone else and that’s good enough for me.

  2. Not sure what you’re asking — for a list of books about quantum field theory? I usually recommend Feynman’s QED and/or Close’s The Infinity Puzzle, but neither is really an intro to QFT per se.

  3. The book was better. Nah just joking. Two more chapters to go. I wonder what the next big discovery will be.

  4. Thanks for the chess analogy! I’m rated 1733 in the USCF. My biggest passion, besides physics of course.

  5. So I caught this tv special on Science Channel, “how big is the universe” or something like that. You were explaining how we measure the flatness of space using the CMB. Could you go into some intense detail about that; because the way it was explained on the show seemed like either the method of measurement was idiotically flawed, or they just edited you down into 3 minutes of confusion during post production. Good show otherwise; felt like you got shafted though with your time on the show.

  6. I thought that I would comment that unbelief is now the third largest religion, if you can call it that, although I know He exists. When you comment on there being no existence after death, I feel that I need to comment as well, so don’t get angry if I do. When you die I will meet you on the other side, okay?

  7. Careful and objective scientists do not say the Higgs boson has been discovered yet. That remains to be seen.

    Firstly, what has been discovered is an unstable Higgs-like boson resonance which could be a fairly boring repeat of the hundreds of other unstable boson resonances already found.

    Secondly, there are a number of anomalies within the existing data, especially diphoton rates that are too high, and the fact that no spin has been definitively determined yet.

    Thirdly, the most recent LHC results indicate differing boson resonance masses for different decay processes, which no one understands yet, and most hope will disappear somehow.

    Lastly, before the LHC came on-line, the predictions for the Higgs mass ranged from about 100 GeV to 800 GeV!!! After the fact of finding a bump at 125 GeV THEN they single out the predictions that conform to that result! That is not cricket in science.

    Particle physicist Jon Butterworth commented in Nature recently:
    “If one assembles the standard model without fine-tuning some parameters, quantum effects mean that the Higgs boson’s mass should grow and end up near the Planck scale. This is clearly wrong, and it hints at gaps in the theory.”

    One could well get the impression that there is something seriously amiss in the current particle physics paradigm. The Higgs Mechanism sounds like a corny just-so story and is completely untestable in any direct manner.

    Robert L. Oldershaw
    Discrete Scale Relativity
    http://www3.amherst.edu/~rloldershaw

  8. Thank you for sharing this online. I love watching you speak. This may sound weird, but I love falling asleep to your TTC lectures on Dark Energy lol

  9. I wonder what the world would look like if our eyes could see it down to the fundamental level, kinda like how different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum look so dang alien.

  10. Brilliantly done. I’ve been reading your writing and watching your videos for a while, as part of my layperson’s effort to self-educate on modern physics, and I have to say this is your best, most accessible presentation yet – and, the most powerful, rational, scientific case for, well, reason and science I have ever seen. Bravo.

  11. Sean, your latest book is fantastic. But in the figure on page 294, isn’t there something unusual about the fermions in your particle zoo?

  12. Ray– There were several typos in the figures in the first printing, most of which are now hopefully resolved. I’ll put up an erratum page soon.

  13. Sean, we enjoyed your presentation, my mate and I. We watched it with much interest. I like how you kept some humor in there, just enough I think. You helped us understand more about something we both enjoy, science. Thank you so very much.

    Tony Ritz, I have no idea what you are going on about, but it sounds to me like you are trying to apply a delusion to reality.

  14. This is because I want to be notified of more comments, and I missed checking the first time, and can’t change that after posting it. Thank you again Sean.