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Posts tagged “Higgs boson

Common Ground

I’ve always believed that science and spirit are opposite ends of one spectrum. Like love and hate, innocence and guilt, or black and white, these polarizing words signify a unified band of varying percentages and, even at their most extreme, are still connected. A few weeks ago, as I was writing my post “Spirit Meets Science,” I realized that the title claim was highly presumptive. It is something that I tend to take for granted and I am always surprised when this assumption is met with argument.

Science and religion are married. But they are constantly seeking divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Dad thinks mom is gullible for wasting time and money on some guru who says he has all the answers. And mom believes that dad has lost his mind over the hot blond at the office who tempts him with indecent advances.

“But Jim, what about the children!”

The children, those of us who still seek to find our own balance between the two, long to strike out and blaze our own trails, even if mom and dad believe them to be misguided. While the parents bicker and all us kids are left to our own devices, we take the opportunity to sneak out of the house and look for adventures in exotic places like the abandoned house down the street. Sure, we take pieces of what mom and dad have taught us, but we test them in new and crazy ways; ways our parents may never understand.

Though our methods lack polish, our experiences teach us many new things. Unfortunately, our preoccupied parental unit fails to see our growth and, even though we mature, we are continuously dismissed as nothing more than a bunch of meddling kids.

Zoiks!

In order for “paranormal investigators” to be taken seriously, a few things need to happen. First, the word “paranormal” needs to be relegated to the annals of archaic terms. Like “Doth” or “lucubrate.”  According to Wikipedia:

In most definitions of the word paranormal, it is described as anything that is beyond or contrary to what is deemed scientifically possible. The definition implies that the scientific explanation of the world around us is the ‘normal’ part of the word and ‘para’ makes up the above, beyond, beside, contrary, or against part of the meaning.

Therein lies the problem! The “scientific explanation of the world,” as far as I know, is still changing. The occurrences we study are no more outside the “norm” than the Higgs Boson or dark matter.

“Just because you’re old, doesn’t mean you know EVERYTHING, Dad!!!”

After all, there was a huge chunk of time where people were convinced that the Earth was flat, or that the atom was an indivisible component of matter, or that Pluto was a planet. (Some are still arguing that one. Let it go, people.)

The truth of the matter is that something is going on here. And it’s not in our heads as some would have you believe. I’m not just talking about cold chills or random EMF spikes. I am talking about unexplained voices, apparitions caught on film, and seemingly self-propelled objects. I can’t speak for other teams, nor do I need to. The evidence our team has captured is enough in and of itself to prove, at the very least, that our experiences in the field are both common and normal. Add to this the fact that numerous people have shared these experiences numerous times and what you have is a very strong argument in favor of the fact that something unexplained is going on here.

Taken on a casual trip to a local historic landmark, this picture surprised the hell out of Jamie. The figures in the mirror were not there at the time she took the shot. In fact, she was the only one in the area. There is nothing but a waist-high wall separating the display from the public. Our team went back at a later date to try and replicate the photo, and despite the fact that there were four of us crowding around Jamie in various positions, we could not even come close to replicating what she captured. To see the original, unaltered, photo go here.

This audio was captured at the very end of our first investigation. The chime you hear is the sound of our full spectrum camera shutting down. The scream after the chime had no visible source. The little girl was only heard by one investigator but it was captured on every recording device. If you need more convincing, go here.

One of the major complaints that people have about paranormal investigators or “ghost hunters” is that we do not approach our investigations scientifically. But this is quickly becoming more of an excuse than a reason for dismissal. Our methods and equipment have vastly improved. And I honestly don’t think our audio recorders are suffering from delusions or mass hysteria(two of the most common ways skeptics explain our experiences away).

So science says our methods are highly flawed and our experiences are all in our heads. What does religion have to say about the “paranormal” or, more specifically, the existence of ghosts?

For argument’s sake, let’s use Christianity as our example. With a dominating 2.4 billion of the world’s 6.8 billion people (Wikipedia, list of religious populations), Christianity holds the largest market share.  Here’s some of what The Good Book has to say on the subject of ghosts:

Hebrews 9:27 declares, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.” That is what happens to a person’s soul-spirit after death—judgment. The result of this judgment is heaven for the believer (2 Corinthians 5:6-8;Philippians 1:23) and hell for the unbeliever (Matthew 25:46Luke 16:22-24). There is no in-between. There is no possibility of remaining on earth in spirit form as a “ghost.” If there are such things as ghosts, according to the Bible, they absolutely cannot be the disembodied spirits of deceased human beings.[1]

The Bible refers to the spirits of the dead as “familiar spirits,” as in intimate association, personal, or one well acquainted (see, Leviticus 19:31, Deuteronomy 18:11; 2 Kings 21:6; Isaiah 8:19, etc.) and warns against having anything to do with them.[2]

Basically, as far as the Bible is concerned, ghosts don’t exist and, if they do, we should have nothing to do with them. We shouldn’t research this phenomena because God said so?

“Mo-THER! You’re in denial!”

     If denial and fear are the best reasons we’ve got for not pursuing this field, then science and religion are the ones with the problems. Denial usually comes from fear, and fear shouldn’t be the basis for our decisions. Nothing worth having or learning comes without risk. And when it comes to seeking answers in this area, I, for one, am willing to take whatever risk it entails.
     In order for our field to expand, science and religion need to recognize that they are, in fact, married. Both sides need to stop thinking about divorce, and start thinking about marriage counseling. After-all, the key to a good relationship is compromise. They don’t have to agree on everything, but they need to show enough respect for each other in order to find common ground.
     I’m not asking for skeptics to believe just because “I said so.” That would make me no better than the extremes against which I argue. I am simply asking for recognition of the fact that collectively we have captured enough evidence to prove that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And these phenomena deserve to be researched instead of ignored or excused.

Spirit Meets Science?

Yesterday, I decided to venture further into the WordPress Blogging Community by seeking out other blogs similar to ours. I gotta say, pick’ns were slim. I searched paranormal, ghosts, and evp’s. Then I wondered if I was doing something wrong. Right before I gave up, I found one pretty cool blog. You can and should check it out here: www.ghostguys.wordpress.com. Granted, it doesn’t seem like it has been updated since 2010 but, if you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you!

While sifting through the categories I came across a post that was right up my alley: “EMF Detection and the Higgs Field.”

Higgs Field? That’s like…physics and shit! Awesome!

The post was brief. It mentioned things like neutralinos and vector bosons which …kind of made me ~grateful~ that it was brief. Now, keep in mind, I’m not stupid, but when you start throwing words like “vector bosons” around, my brain cramps a little, and I find myself reciting calming mantras and visualizing my happy place.

After a few moments of rocking and muttering, I talked myself down from the mental ledge and really put my reading comprehension skills to work. Once I mastered my panic, I found the author’s (Michael Clark’s) theory very interesting. In a nutshell, and hopefully I am getting this right, “Spirits are intelligent collections of electromagnetic energy and massless photons…” When they interact with the Higgs Field ( a field made up of particles that is believed to give all matter its mass), a certain amount of their photons temporarily gain mass which gives them the ability to interact with our physical world ie: move objects or make sounds.

What really resonated with me was how the Higgs Field resembled what is often referred to spiritually as “The Veil” (the term that refers to the barrier or curtain between this world and the afterlife). So, if Mike’s theory has legs, it would make the Higgs Field the place where science and spirit meet.

Obviously, this thought tickled me to no end. Hell, we’ve been using it as our catchy tagline since our team’s inception. Just look at the top of this page! It inspired me to write a new post. But in order to write a proper post, I needed to do my own research into Higgs and bosons and neutralinos. So, to Wikipedia I went. Surely my beloved wiki would have some entries that could explain this vast field of study in a way that this commoner could understand. Surely.

It should be noted that more than one source of mass is known to exist, but in the Standard Model the term “Higgs mechanism” almost always signifies the mechanism responsible for electroweak symmetry breaking… The leading and simplest theory for how this effect takes place in nature is that if a particular kind of “field” (known as the Higgs field) existed, which in contrast to the more familiar gravitational field and electromagnetic field had a constant strength everywhere, then this field would give rise to a Higgs mechanism in nature, and would therefore allow particles interacting with this field to acquire a mass. During the 1960s and 1970s the Standard Model of physics was developed on this basis, and it included a prediction and requirement that for these things to be true, there had to be an undiscovered fundamental particle as the counterpart of this field. This particle would be the Higgs boson.

So there ya go! Electroweak symmetry breaking aside, the explanation of the theory is fairly straightforward and does indeed match what Mr. Clark wrote about in his blog. There are a whole bunch of symmetrical particles floating around out there without mass. Then they collide with the Higgs field and BAM they get all lopsided and suddenly have mass.

I made a scientific model to better demonstrate this complex principle:

Science!

Okay…I’ll admit I heard a symphony of crickets in the silent moments after I read that. My brain got stuck on what exactly gives these symmetrical particles mass. It just seems like something is missing. But I allowed myself to temporarily set that little query aside, opting instead to continue my initial quest for a better understanding of the specific terms referenced in the original article.

Once I checked into the Higgs Field, I had to know what a “neutralino” or “neutrino” particle was. Once again, I looked to Wikipedia for a decent explanation in laymen’s terms. This is what I found:

In particle physics, the neutralino[1] is a hypothetical particle predicted by supersymmetry. There are four neutralinos that are fermions and are electrically neutral, the lightest of which is typically stable. They are typically labeled N͂0
1 (the lightest), N͂0
2, N͂0
3 and N͂0
4 (the heaviest) although sometimes  \tilde{\chi}_1^0, \ldots, \tilde{\chi}_4^0 is also used when  \tilde{\chi}_i^\pm is used to refer to charginos. These four states are mixtures of the bino and the neutral wino (which are the neutral electroweak gauginos), and the neutral higgsinos. As the neutralinos are Majorana fermions, each of them is identical with its antiparticle. Because these particles only interact with the weak vector bosons, they are not directly produced at hadron colliders in copious numbers. They primarily appear as particles in cascade decays of heavier particles (decays that happen in multiple steps) usually originating from colored supersymmetric particles such as squarks or gluinos.

So…the neutralinos are Majorana fermions. I suspected as much. And they like…fall off of the larger squarks and gluinos as they decay. Sure. That makes sense. Clearly, ghosts are not made of such things! To assume they are would be like assuming they are made up of snips, snails, and puppy dog tails. And that’s just silly!

So much for layman’s terms. Again, I heard crickets..many many crickets… they were laughing at me…chirpy mocking laughter. And I heard one say, “You asked!” Wikipedia managed an explanation so complex, that when I copied and pasted it, WordPress didn’t know exactly how to type it.

I’ll admit that at this point, I was willing to give up and let Mr. Michael “Smarty-pants” Clark be the brainiest ghost hunter on the block. But I had one more query. Has the science of physics made mention of anything having to do with ghosts? Ever? Though I knew the chances were slim, I returned to Wikipedia (for consistency’s sake) and ran a search for “ghost physics.” Several things came up, none of which had anything to do with the kind of ghosts I was talking about. Still, I clicked on a link that looked interesting. This is what awaited me:

In theoretical physicsBRST quantization (where the BRST refers to Becchi, Rouet, Stora and Tyutin) is a relatively rigorous mathematical approach to quantizing a field theory with a gauge symmetryQuantization rules in earlier QFT frameworks resembled “prescriptions” or “heuristics” more than proofs, especially in non-abelian QFT, where the use of “ghost fields” with superficially bizarre properties is almost unavoidable for technical reasons related to renormalization and anomaly cancellation. The BRST supersymmetry was introduced in the mid-1970s and was quickly understood to justify the introduction of these Faddeev–Popov ghosts and their exclusion from “physical” asymptotic states when performing QFT calculations. Work by other authors a few years later related the BRST operator to the existence of a rigorous alternative to path integrals when quantizing a gauge theory.

It’s a “relatively rigorous” approach. This silenced even the crickets. It was like I landed in the middle of an episode of  “The Big Bang Theory.” It’s  Halloween and Penny wants Sheldon to prove that ghosts exist. Is this what the writers do when they give them all that brainy stuff to say? The explanation was so theoretical, that if you spoke it out-loud half of the terms would be in air quotes! Physics makes me cry.

My quest for a better understanding of the article which seemed so innocent in the beginning led me through a maze of terms and names and air quotes. Though it offered little ground towards a better understanding of where spirit meets science, it did make me thankful for the inspiration I drew from the original post. And it made me that much more thankful that Michael Clark’s original post… was brief.