What a great time to be a scientist! CERN (Conseil Europeen, pour la Recherche Nucleaire), the European Organization for Nuclear Research, with its Large Hadron Collider astride the French and Swiss Borders, may finally reveal whether there is or is not a Higgs boson, dubbed "The God Particle" by someone hoping, perhaps, to tick off atheist scientists. But the Higgs boson may really be out there, something even non-scientists can get excited about.
To one unable to understand the divine language of higher mathematics, renderings in English, necessarily crude, nevertheless hint at the grandeur of a question the Higgs may answer: what gives matter its mass?
Why, you may ask, does something have to "give" matter its mass? It's like asking why you can't see through a brick wall? There's a scientific explanation for that too, and the explanation for mass is mind-blowing, even in English. Space is not "empty," but filled with a substance through which all matter flows, and which catches at some kinds of matter more than others. Think of a submarine passing through water. A fat one will be slowed down more than a slender one. So the fat one will have more "mass." The "water" of space is a Higgs Field.
This changes the universe. We are not motes of life in a lifeless expanse. We are condensates, particles if you like, formed or created (your choice), by whatever commands this Higgs Field in which we live. Do those who call Higgs "The God particle," also consider that the whole Higgs field might be... God? Might Dark Energy be the sweep of God's coattail? It is likely a question which scientists consider jejune. Yet why can't we be particles within the body of God? Not so different from those who profess a "personal relationship" with God, although I have no doubt that they will be the first and loudest to rail against it.
Why do gold and lead, for two, react more with the Higgs Field than, say, aluminum and carbon? Humano sapiens, all life, in fact, is made of elements lighter than gold and lead. Assuming the Higgs boson is found, what new questions will it trigger? Science has ruled out some ideas favored by science fiction—time travel, for instance. Will the Higgs boson support atheists, or could it lead to a mathematical proof that God exists?