The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Friday, July 06, 2012

The Higgs Boson discovery and clamouring to be wrong.

I noticed something interesting about the discovery of the Higgs Boson. It wasn’t the discovery itself, it was the reaction of physicists to that discovery that struck me. In particular, so many of the scientists clamoured to be wrong. I shall explain.

A number of physicists who were interviewed expressed the thought, in various ways, that they hoped that the Higgs Boson turned out to have properties INCONSISTENT with the STANDARD MODEL. That is, they were clamouring to be wrong. They wanted their existing theory to be overturned and be shown to be incorrect by the new discovery. Indeed, the famed Stephen Hawking had bet good money that the Higgs Boson would not be discovered – because he hoped that science would be proven wrong in its present models, because, I inferred, science is at its most interesting, when it is wrong-footed. It is in such times, that great advances in understanding are made. So, it is, that all these physicists want to be shown wrong. They want, in short, to usher in times of uncertainty and discovery and new thought and experiment and theory. They want intellectual excitement in their lives. Were the Higgs Boson to be proved to be exactly as expected then none of these things would happen. It would be business as usual. The world would continue much as it had before and they would have no surprises to wake up to each morning. The physicists didn’t want that. They wanted to live in revolutionary times. They were tired of stasis.

I rather feel that many branches of science will, in time, be filled with scientists thinking much like those physicists. As science matures and ignorance recedes, there will be the growing feeling that there is much less left to understand – that no big revolutions lie ahead. Thus, it is, that science will become less interesting for its practitioners. I cannot say if science has already reached that stage, but it is not difficult to feel that it cannot be far off for some branches of science, if it is not already here.

Scientists want to feel intellectually alive. To do so, they need times of change and challenge. Only, therefore, discovery that they were wrong, would usher in such times, assuredly. It would show them that they need to go back to the drawing board and begin again. Such a thought, does not tire them, but invigorates them. They wish to really live the life of the mind and to breathe its fresh thoughts.

In a way, I hope that the physicists get their wish – because times of change are exciting for the spectator, too – as I now am to that branch of science. Just to witness novel thoughts and theories, is a pleasure for those who appreciate matters of the mind. So, let us hope that the discovery of the Higgs Boson has some surprises for us. Let us hope it ushers in a new and deeper, richer, more complex understanding of the world – and with it brings us new powers over nature, that, I hope, we use wisely.

Just as the discovery of the electron ultimately led to electronics, perhaps the discovery of the Higgs Boson will lead to technologies of mass manipulation – which would obviously be both powerful and exciting in their applications: flying cities, anyone? The possibilities are as endless as our dreams. I shall watch the tale of the Higgs Boson with great anticipation – and so, too, I hope shall all Mankind. It could portend a very different world, indeed.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 6:35 PM 


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