Finnegans Wake*

*Finnegans Wake is a 1939 book by Irish writer James Joyce. It has been called “a work of fiction which combines a body of fables … with the work of analysis and deconstruction”.

Bill Bryson, in A Short History of Nearly Everything (2003) Chapter Eleven:

“…Gell-Mann’s theory was that all hadrons were made up of still smaller, even more fundamental particles. His colleague Richard Feynman wanted to call these new basic particles partons, as in Dolly, but was over-ruled. Instead they became known as quarks.

Gell-Mann took the name from a line in Finnegans Wake: “Three quarks for Muster Mark!” (Discriminating physicists rhyme the word with storks, not larks, even though the latter is almost certainly the pronunciation Joyce had in mind.)…

…Eventually out of all this emerged what is called the Standard Model, which is essentially a sort of parts kit for the subatomic world. The Standard Model consists of six quarks, six leptons, five known bosons and a postulated sixth, the Higgs boson (named for a Scottish scientist, Peter Higgs), plus three of the four physical forces: the strong and weak nuclear forces and electromagnetism.”

From the website of CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research):

“As a layman I would now say… I think we have it.”

“It” was the Higgs boson, the almost-mythical entity that had put particle physics in the global spotlight, and the man proclaiming to be a mere layman was none other than CERN’s Director-General, Rolf Heuer. Heuer spoke in the Laboratory’s main auditorium on 4 July 2012, moments after the CMS and ATLAS collaborations at the Large Hadron Collider announced the discovery of a new elementary particle, which we now know is a Higgs boson. Applause reverberated in Geneva from as far away as Melbourne, Australia, where delegates of the International Conference on High Energy Physics were connected via video-conference.

On 8 October 2013 the Nobel prize in physics was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter Higgs “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles, and which recently was confirmed through the discovery of the predicted fundamental particle, by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider”.

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