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Home » Dave’s DiegesesAugust 2005 » Dave’s Diegesis: Musings for the Masses

Dave’s Diegesis: Musings for the Masses

I much prefer the sharpest criticism of a single intelligent man to the thoughtless approval of the masses.
Johannes Kepler

Who knew it would take so long to get a return invite from NESN? I’ve been in touch with key people there, but haven’t heard back from them yet. With this seeming lack of interest, I’ve begun to question myself, pondering what exactly I am made of. Is there some essential ingredient lacking that that makes me unfit in their eyes? Maybe something in my atomic makeup that is deficient?

My mind wandered, as it often does, and I began to contemplate the very nature of mass. Perhaps my television persona is theorized to exist but yet to affirmed, like the Higgs boson. The Higgs boson is the as of yet undiscovered elementary particle that, according to the Standard Model of particle physics, is the particle that grants mass to other elementary particles as well as to itself.

I’ve written before about scalar fields, and the hypothetical Higgs boson, like all elementary particles, has a corresponding scalar field. The Higgs field is unlike any other scalar field in three profound ways:

First, the fields we are more familiar with, such as the electromagnetic field, have an intrinsic quantity of angular momentum associated with the the spin of its matching particles. Photons have a spin of 1, while the Higgs boson is unique amongst its peers by having a spin of 0 (zero).

As a consequence of this zero spin, the universe at its natural, lowest energy state is permeated by a nonzero Higgs field. To visualize this, think of a rosin bag that has an indentation after pitcher has punched it. In other quantum fields besides the Higgs, like the electromagnetic field, the bottom of the concave represents zero. The net energy of the system increases if any nonzero field is presented. In picturing a Higgs field, in addition to the concave you have to envision a slight bump in the middle of the recess. This bump represents the Higgs field’s zero, which is surrounded by the lower, nonzero ring.

Lastly, particles react with the Higgs field so that they behave as if they have mass proportional to the field strength multiplied by the strength of the interaction. In this case, a particle interacting with the Higgs field can be imagined as if David Ortiz were walking through a group of fans that begin in a uniform distribution. As fans realize Big Papi was amongst them, they would begin to gather around him. Once he passes through a particular cluster of fans, they return to their original positions. This illustrates how a particle (Ortiz) accrues mass as it interacts with a Higgs field (crowd of fans).

I need to get me some some of the same crowd reaction that guys like Ortiz get to bolster my career ambitions. Then I’d be gettin’ Higgsy wit it. If I get in touch with the folks that run the Large Electron-Positron Collider (LEP) at CERN, maybe it will help me find a way to amass more appeal.

Every Friday, Dave McCarty will join us to discuss a topic of interest to him and probably no one else but the author of this site and other lone science geeks looking for a career in television.

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