The Discovery of God

Last summer scientists discovered God. He was found in Cern, Switzerland. One would have suspected that God would be found in Switzerland, a small, quiet, unassuming country. God is not a show-off. His ego is quite intact. He doesn’t need to live in some loud, flamboyant country.

Actually, I have misled you. God wasn’t in Cern, Switzerland. The “God particle” was found there, somewhere inside the Large Haldron Collider (LHC). If you remember back to premed physics, a collider is where atomic nuclei are smashed into each other at just about the speed of light to create multiple subatomic particles. This mimics the energy that was supposedly around at the time of creation when the universe started. The name of the “God particle” is really the Higgs boson. The Higgs boson, or particle, only lasts for about a zepto second (a billion-trillionth of a second). This is what $8 billion was spent on? I hope they got their money’s worth.

Why search for something that only lasts for a zepto second? Well, it turns out that the Higgs particle is not as important as the Higgs field. The Higgs field pervades empty space; it keeps things together. The Higgs particle creates the Higgs field which exists in empty space and it holds everything together—the glue of the universe.

They really want us to believe this stuff? Where is Einstein when you need him? If you believe this, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I’d like to sell you…or how about a new method of endovenous ablation that uses a laser to “kill” the veins, or a new venous stent that holds open a chronically occluded vein, or a new device that “catches” blood clots before they travel to the heart or lungs, or a new “glue” that seals veins shut?

Why do scientists seek the “God particle”? For the same reason we strive to find out things about vein disease that we don’t know or understand. Most scientific discoveries occur because someone is trying to fill a void in knowledge like the Higgs field fills the void of space.

Most advances in vein disease have come from someone trying to fill a void in vein care. In this issue-of VEIN we try to fill some voids at considerably less expense than that of the Higgs particle discovery. I can’t say that we have found the “God vein particle,” but we are trying to fill a smaller and
more relevant void. Mark Garcia, an excellent interventional radiologist, helps us understand the optimal management of caval filters and chronic occlusive venous disease. The challenge of educating various specialties in venous disease may be the boson particle in our overall care of venous disease. Raghu Kolluri, a vascular medicine specialist, talks about VEINS, a symposium that fills the void in knowledge primarily for nonvascular surgical specialists. The vein space is filled with knowledgeable people doing good work. They have lasted more than a zepto second, and we don’t need a Haldron collider for their existence.

So in the final analysis, what has the search and discovery of the Higgs particle taught us? A particle that exists for a zepto second creates the Higgs field. The Higgs field can’t be seen or felt. The Higgs field only exists in empty space (is there any other type of space? Isn’t that an oxymoron?). The Higgs field holds everything together but no one will ever see it. Sounds like God to me. Maybe the scientists are right. Who would have thought that science would embrace the unseen and intangible, the “God particle”?