My amazing sister and I were walking in the 5th arrondissement in Paris last week. At one point, we saw a great looking building and decided to walk in. We were way too immersed in our discussion to care about the fact we were entering a university and, going up the floors, we ended up in an amphitheater. Asking around, someone told us the theme of the conference was "Can we have faith in Science?". Minutes later, walks into the room none other than intellectual superstar Etienne Klein!
The philosopher of sciences and physicist blew our minds that evening. I finally understood why Higgs' Boson was such a big deal. More importantly, I understood why it is that faith in science may not be a choice. The boson first :) Remember that Physics course at school where you learned atoms and electrons had a mass? Well. They don't. Particles have no mass. Discovering Higgs' Boson means mass is not a primary property of physical bodies but a secondary one stemming from their interaction with the void where Higgs' Boson lies!
In other terms, we discovered "something else" is keeping us from floating in space. Now we can choose to call it Higgs' Boson or Angels and imagine tiny beautiful Angels are somehow pressing us against the floor and keeping us from flying. And the thing is, it's perfectly fine. Even Higgs wouldn't mind! Because the narrative is not the point. The symbols we choose to refer to reality can be anything. The process to unveil consistent phenomenon, however, can't be.
You can't run one double-blind experiment on a non-representative sample of human beings and draw conclusions about a medication's efficiency. It's not valid. You can't deduce climate change isn't happening because you don't feel that hot today. Your conclusions can't be generalized. They are useless in terms of predictions. Science is that process. You can deny narratives and argue about symbols. You can't deny the process because it uncovers reality. And I'm italicizing on purpose: Higgs' boson (or the Angels) might be an illusion in our minds but it's a consistent illusion in our minds. It is one we can verify again and again with a particle accelerator. More on Science this coming Thursday ;) Good morning Impossible Family!