Wednesday, July 4, 2007

212)On the verge of discovery of the elusive Higgs particle(boson) or field, which gives matter its property of mass ; will it be the U.S. or Europe?

Quotes of Aga Khan IV with regards to scientific endeavour, discovery and the search for knowledge:

Indeed, one strength of Islam has always lain in its belief that creation is not static but continuous, that through scientific and other endeavours, God has opened and continues to open new windows for us to see the marvels of His creation. (Speech, 16 March 1983, Karachi, Pakistan)

It (Surah of Light from the Quran) tells us that the oil of the blessed olive tree lights the lamp of understanding, a light that belongs neither to the East nor West. We are to give this light to all. In that spirit, all that we learn will belong to the world and that too is part of the vision I share with you. (Speech 25 Sept. 1979)

The truth, as the famous Islamic scholars repeatedly told their students, is that the spirit of disciplined, objective enquiry is the property of no single culture, but of all humanity. To quote the great physician and philosopher, Ibn Sina: "My profession is to forever journeying, to travel about the universe so that I may know all its conditions." (Speech, 16 March 1983, Karachi, Pakistan)

An institution dedicated to proceeding beyond known limits must be committed to independent thinking. In a university scholars engage both orthodox and unorthodox ideas, seeking truth and understanding wherever they may be found. That process is often facilitated by an independent governance structure, which serves to ensure that the university adheres to its fundamental mission and is not pressured to compromise its work for short-term advantage. For a Muslim university it is appropriate to see learning and knowledge as a continuing acknowledgement of Allah's magnificence.(Speech, 1993, Aga Khan University)

That quest for a better life, among Muslims and non-Muslims alike, must lead inevitably to the Knowledge Society which is developing in our time. The great and central question facing the Ummah of today is how it will relate to the Knowledge Society of tomorrow.
The fundamental reason for the pre-eminence of Islamic civilizations lay neither in accidents of history nor in acts of war, but rather in their ability to discover new knowledge, to make it their own, and to build constructively upon it. They became the Knowledge Societies of their time.(Speech, 2006, Aga Khan University)

God has given us the miracle of life with all its attributes: the extraordinary manifestations of sunrise and sunset, of sickness and recovery, of birth and death, but surely if He has given us the means with which to remove ourselves from this world so as to go to other parts of the Universe, we can but accept as further manifestations the creation and destructions of stars, the birth and death of atomic particles, the flighting new sound and light waves. I am afraid that the torch of intellectual discovery, the attraction of the unknown, the desire for intellectual self-perfection have left us. (Speech, 1963, Mindanao, Phillipines)

Education has been important to my family for a long time. My forefathers founded al-Azhar University in Cairo some 1000 years ago, at the time of the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt. Discovery of knowledge was seen by those founders as an embodiment of religious faith, and faith as reinforced by knowledge of workings of the Creator's physical world. The form of universities has changed over those 1000 years, but that reciprocity between faith and knowledge remains a source of strength. (Speech,1994, Cambridge, Massachusets, U.S.A.)

The Muslim world, once a remarkable bastion of scientific and humanist knowledge, a rich and self-confident cradle of culture and art, has never forgotten its past.
The great Muslim philosopher al-Kindi wrote eleven hundred years ago, "No one is diminished by the truth, rather does the truth ennobles all". That is no less true today.(Speech,1996, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.A.)

Quran Symposium:
....a reflection of how Islam's revelation, with its challenge to man's innate gift of quest and reason, became a powerful impetus for a new flowering of human civilisation.
This programme is also an opportunity for achieving insights into how the discourse of the Qur'an-e-Sharif, rich in parable and allegory, metaphor and symbol, has been an inexhaustible well-spring of inspiration, lending itself to a wide spectrum of interpretations.
In this context, would it not also be relevant to consider how, above all, it has been the Qur'anic notion of the universe as an expression of Allah's will and creation that has inspired, in diverse Muslim communities, generations of artists, scientists and philosophers? Scientific pursuits, philosophic inquiry and artistic endeavour are all seen as the response of the faithful to the recurring call of the Qur'an to ponder the creation as a way to understand Allah's benevolent majesty. As Sura al-Baqara proclaims: 'Wherever you turn, there is the face of Allah'.
The famous verse of 'light' in the Qur'an, the Ayat al-Nur, whose first line is rendered here in the mural behind me, inspires among Muslims a reflection on the sacred, the transcendent. It hints at a cosmos full of signs and symbols that evoke the perfection of Allah's creation and mercy. (Speech, 2003, London, U.K.)

Several days ago, at a meeting of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in Malaysia, it was pointed out that the only way the umma can work its way out of its present sad state is to harness the intellect.(Speech,2003, London, U.K.)

A thousand years ago, my forefathers, the Fatimid imam-caliphs of Egypt, founded al-Azhar University and the Academy of Knowledge in Cairo. In the Islamic tradition, they viewed the discovery of knowledge as a way to understand, so as to serve better God's creation, to apply knowledge and reason to build society and shape human aspirations.(Speech, 2004, Matola, Mozambique.)

Particle physics

Down the rabbit hole.

Jun 28th 2007
From The Economist print edition

America's chances of finding the source of universal mass receive a boost.

"OH DEAR! Oh dear! I shall be too late!" So muttered the White Rabbit just before he plunged into Wonderland, with Alice in pursuit. Similar utterances have been escaping the lips of European physicists, as it was confirmed last week that their own subterranean Wonderland, a new machine called the Large Hadron Collider, will not now begin work until May 2008. This delay may enable their American rivals to scoop them by finding the Higgs boson—predicted 43 years ago by Peter Higgs of Edinburgh University to be the reason why matter has mass, but not yet actually discovered.

The Large Hadron Collider is a 27km-long circular accelerator that is being built at CERN, the European particle-physics laboratory near Geneva, specifically to look for the Higgs boson. When it eventually starts work, it will be the world's most powerful particle collider. It will also be the most expensive, having cost SFr10 billion ($8 billion) to build. The laboratory had hoped it would be ready in 2005, but the schedule has slipped repeatedly.

The most recent delay came at the end of March, with the dramatic failure of a magnet assembly that had been supplied by CERN's American counterpart, the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) near Chicago. This device was one of four designed to focus beams of particles before they collide in the experimental areas. Admittedly, it had been placed under extreme conditions when it failed, but such forces are to be expected from time to time when the machine is running normally. The magnets have yet to be fixed, although physicists think they know how to do it.

Other, smaller hitches have compounded the problem. The collider has been built in eight sections, each of which must be cooled to temperatures only just above absolute zero. This is because the magnets used to accelerate the particles to the high energies needed for particle physics rely on the phenomenon of superconductivity to work—and superconductivity, in turn, needs extremely low temperatures. Unfortunately, the first of the eight sections took far longer to chill than had been expected.

If, as the other seven sections are cooled, further problems emerge, the start date will have to be put back still further. It takes a month to cool each section, and a month to warm each one back up to normal temperatures again. If it took, say, a month to fix any problems identified as a section cooled, each cycle would postpone the start date by three months.

To accelerate progress (as well as particles), CERN's management decided last week to cancel an engineering run scheduled for November. Instead of beginning slowly with some safe-but-dull low-energy collisions, the machine's first run will accelerate its particles to high energies straight away.

Such haste may be wise, for rumours are circulating that physicists working at the Tevatron, which is based at Fermilab and is currently the world's most powerful collider, have been seeing hints of the Higgs boson. Finding it would virtually guarantee the discoverer a Nobel prize—shared jointly, no doubt, with Dr Higgs. Hence the rush, as hundreds of physicists head down the rabbit hole, seeking their own adventures in Wonderland.

Other posts by me on this blogsite that either discuss the Higgs particle or mention it:


Islam, eminently logical, placing the greatest emphasis on knowledge, purports to understand God's creation:Aga Khan 4(2006)
The God of the Quran is the One whose Ayats(Signs) are the Universe in which we live, move and have our being:Aga Khan 3(1952)
Our interpretation of Islam places enormous value on knowledge. Knowledge is the reflection of faith if it is used properly. Seek out that knowledge and use it properly:Aga Khan 4(2005)