The National, Wednesday 18th, 2012
LAST issue’s examples of visionaries and dreamers came from the Bible and traditional society.
They had the ability to “see” into the future because of their faith or cultural teachings.
Good scientists possess a special ability to “see” and they predict things.
That is a physical ability and with good training it is developed.
On July 4 physicists (those who study matter, energy and the interaction between the two) everywhere became excited when those at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) observed a new sub-atomic particle, a boson.
High school science teaches that in an atom there are sub-atomic particles like the lighter, negatively-charged electrons, positively-charged protons and neutrons that do not possess a charge.
The protons and neutrons are the heavier particles and are in the nucleus of an atom.
In reality, the elementary particles are quarks, leptons and bosons.
The electron is a lepton, while the proton and neutron are combinations of some of elementary particles.
The prediction of the existence of a special boson was made by the English theoretical physicist Peter Higgs (and others) in the 1960s.
This year (50 years later) that particle was observed.
So how is it that they could see the existence of something that others did not?
That comes from their scientific training and being inquisitive about data – from experiments or theories from other scientists.
Our headline comes from a quote by physicist Emilio G. Segrè in his book From X-rays to Quarks: Modern Physicists and Their Discoveries.
All of physics can be categorised into experimental or theoretical physics.
Theoretical physicists come up with the theories (and can make predictions) that experimental physicists try to test.
Albert Einstein was a theoretical physicist and when he first came up with the idea that energy and matter can interact, he was snubbed.
That is basically what is described by his famous E=mc2 equation.
These ideas were part of his general theory of relativity and were put forward in 1911. On May 29, 1919, astronomers observed a solar eclipse in Africa.
They knew, if Einstein was correct, stars “at the back” of the sun should be seen because their light would be attracted and bent by the sun’s gravity as they passed by it.
Their observation confirmed what Einstein’s theory predicted, the news spread and Einstein was hailed a genius.
Yes, he saw things that others did not see.
Can you see things that others cannot?
l Next week: Visualise for you and your family