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September 23, 2012

By Gary A. Puckrein, PhD

Expressively colored atom

From The Democratization of Health Care Series

Posted July 24, 2012 | Updated September 23, 2012

By Gary A. Puckrein

Published on the Huffington Post

Almost simultaneous with the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was the announcement by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) of the identification of a subatomic particle that appears to confirm the existence of the Higgs field. The two can be considered in the same thought. The news from CERN signals how far we have come; the Court’s decision reminds us of how far we need to go.

Discovery of the Higgs ranks with the breakthroughs of Newton and Einstein. The finding suggests that mass, the stuff we recognize as matter, is not entirely resident in the structure of atoms, as we once believed, but derives from an interaction between those atoms and the Higgs field, and perhaps other fields, that pervade all space. Through this interaction, the Higgs field contributes to the origins and composition of matter, the building block of life. Without the Higgs, our universe, we could not exist.

Serious scientists speculate that aliens exist. Extraterrestrials may have found the Higgs long ago, but until they make their presence and their achievements known, it would appear we humans are the only sentient life-forms in the observable universe capable of understanding the forces that gave us life and the only ones capable of manipulating those forces to our advantage. (Perhaps we should seek to conserve what may have no twin — just a thought.)

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