Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor
What is a Higgs boson?
Is Higgs boson research relevant?
Regarding the guest column by Anna Goussiou on funding particle physics [“So what exactly is a ‘Higgs boson’ and why should we fund such science?” Opinion, July 15], the writer admits she studies particle physics to satisfy her curiosity. In fact, to a considerable degree that’s what motivates most scientists. However, there is science which is conducted to satisfy a curiosity itch — sometimes at the cost of billions of dollars — and science that ultimately contributes to an understanding of the world that improves our lives.
Although Goussiou lists several achievements reached through particle-physics research, e.g. the World Wide Web, they did not require the use of a supercollider. It’s one thing to defend science and basic research, and another to defend the colossal hubris of a very expensive hobby. And if the Europeans wanted to fund this enterprise instead of the United States, why not let them? We all have our priorities; at the moment, mine is that we understand how to stop and reverse the effects of global climate change that, left unchecked, will make particle physics totally irrelevant by the next century, and not what happened microseconds after the Big Bang.
— Herb Curl, Seattle