In the storyline, Alice Liddell has the ability to manipulate events according to her will. She could make people and the Universe to what she bids. New Age calls this manipulation “manifesting you intention”. You can read about it here. In Catching Infinity, this is supposedly possible because of the Higgs Field. So the big question: what is it in simple language?
The Higgs Field is a hypothetical invisible force field that pervades the whole Universe, that gives mass – and hence ‘realness’ – to elementary particles (basic building blocks) that interact with it. Without the Higgs Field, there would be no mass. There would be no planets, no stars, no Universe, no life.
Though all particles are merely excitation of fields, people often find it difficult, if not impossible, to comprehend fields conceptually. Here are a series of images that designer Luis Hernan produced of invisible WIFI signals using a creative combination of long exposure photography and an Android app. Please click here for more stunning photographs.
With some artistic licence, this is what a field looks like.
If the Higgs Field is so pervasive and important, how come we can’t see it? We can’t see the Higgs Field anymore than we can see the sea of air that we live in, but it is there all the same. PW wants to build ‘an accelerator so large that it can be seen from the skies’ to find the Higgs boson so that he proves the Higgs Field exists. Finding the Higgs boson remains one of the last holy grails of physics.
Note: Our thoughts is a type of field too, and if we can this field to the one we live in, the potential is limitless.
Imagine the three little sisters in the Dormouse’s tale – Elsie, Lacie and Tillie – who lived in a Universe permeated with treacle instead of gravity. Tillie who wore Mary-Janes on her feet, the typical shoes of Victorian children, and a frilly pinafore dress, and she struggled to move through the treacle. Lacie, who saw her sister’s difficulty in moving through the treacle, decided to remove her clothes and put a pair galoshes over her shoes; she moved easier than Tillie through the treacle. As for Elsie the magical child, she sprouted a pair of wings and glided effortlessly over the treacle. The three sisters who lived in the treacle well experienced treacle with different degrees of difficulty.
Thanks to the Dormouse, she understood that Elsie, Lacie and Tillie actually represent different types of particles of our world and our relationshp with the Higgs field. We are all living in a treacle-well, it is not just a fancy told by a sleepy mouse at the Mad Hatter’s tea party where the clock never moved. Tillie, who had the most difficulty moving through the treacle, is the one with most mass, whilst Elsie, who did not interact with the treacle at all, is massless.
We don’t think ‘mass’, instead we think ‘weight’, simply because weight is what we experience in our ‘real’ life. Thus we are unable to make the leap and think of mass is as a consequence of particles reacting differently to the Higgs field; rather, we choose to believe that the more massive a particle is, the more ‘stuff’ it contains. This inability to think in terms of a new dimension traps us and limits us because we are never be able to contemplate zero-dimensional particles which do not take up any space but which nonetheless possess mass. Like the beautiful distant stars that stud the endless Universe, Alice thought with a smile for PW. He, who talked so passionately about stars yet made no mention of the Higgs field.
Curiouser and curiouser, was what she used to say when she was a little girl. It was her curiosity that damned her.
He listened more, pressing his ear against the cold stone of the square tower of Magdalen College. More music came to him, disembodied, but real nonetheless. Like fire, music is critical to our survival. It predates language and is more than a just frivolity that we often carelessly assign it to. Early Paleolithic humans invested a lot of effort into making music, probably because music touches us all at a very deep level. There is a possibility that music predates bipedal walking, and why not? To communicate, like to procreate, is a fundamental driver of life.
But what is music?
It is a vibration of molecules following a certain, beautiful, established pattern and this sequence of energised molecules works with neurotransmitters, opening up cortical circuitry in the brain, opening up our minds like a chemical flower blooming in its osteoblast cage.
From its source, music travels out spherically, directionless, losing energy along the way. Thus, music gets fainter the further away it gets from its source, until the energy dissipates to the extent that the molecules no longer hum to the beat. But in Alice’s world, these molecules reach him with their message across space and time, and the message that it carried was the beauty of the Magdalen College Choir singing Mount Up, My Soul. Mount Up, My Soul was a little known song, written by Joseph Straphan in 1834 that PW used to play on the piano in the veld to the tempo of crickets singing. How did she know?
“I loved you since forever, PW.”