The Hoke’s Buzzard
A long time ago, in a village far away, lived a clever young man called Hoke.
One day he was out in his garden, watching the birds, the bees, and the butterflies, when he suddenly realised something. He realised that if the space above the ground, was completely empty, it would be impossible for these creatures to fly. So he decided that the space above the ground, must contain what he chose to call ‘The Hokes Field’.
He was so proud of his idea, that he went to tell all the other wise men in the village. Some of his friends patted him on the back, and congratulated him on coming up with such a clever idea. But some of the oldest and wisest men, were angry that Hoke had started telling people about his idea, without consulting them first. So they told Hoke that he did not know what he was talking about. “Look here Hoke” said the oldest and wisest “unless you can tell us what the Hoke’s Field is made of, why it enables creatures to fly, and why a bat can fly but a mouse cannot, your theory is just rubbish”.
Hoke was very upset by this, he had particularly been looking forward to being congratulated by the oldest and wisest men, and could not understand why they disliked his idea so much. But as the years went by, so all the old wise men gradually died out; and soon everybody in the village believed in the Hoke’s Field. Not only this, but gradually people started saying that Hoke had solved all the mysteries of the universe. Then one day, as Hoke himself was beginning to grow old, his friend asked him “how can we show that the Hoke’s Field really exists?”
“Of course it exists” replied Hoke “if it did not exist, then nothing would be able to fly!”
“I know that, and you know that” said his friend “but how can we convince the ignorant peasants that it exists?”
Hoke thought about the problem all evening. Then finally in the very depths of the night, with only the eerie hooting of an owl to break the silence, he hit upon the solution.
The next day Hoke rushed round to see his friend, and declared “what we need to do, to prove to everybody that the Hoke’s Field really exists, is to find the Hoke’s Buzzard.”
“What on earth is the Hoke’s buzzard?” asked his friend.
“The biggest flying creature, that we see in our gardens, is the crow” said Hoke “to show that the Hoke’s Field exists, we need to show that somewhere there is an even bigger flying creature”.
“How much bigger?” asked his friend.
“Maybe 5 or 10 times the size” said Hoke “or perhaps a similar size to a crow, or maybe even a little bit smaller. To be honest, we will not really know till we find it. My calculations predict that it exists, and that it should have wings and feathers, but do not really predict its size.”
“Where do you think we might find it?” asked his friend.
“There is no point looking in our gardens” replied Hoke “because if it was there, we would already have seen it. So I think we will have to look further afield.”
“Great idea” said his friend “I will organise an expedition up the mountain as soon as possible.”
The whole village was soon very excited about the prospect of finding the Hoke’s Buzzard, and did everything they could to help the expedition. But when the expedition returned, they said they had seen no sign of the Hoke’s buzzard. So other expeditions were arranged, but again they found nothing.
As the years went by, some people in the village began to grumble, and started suggesting that the Hoke’s Buzzard did not really exist. Not only that, but some people even said that instead of continually going on expeditions in search of an imaginary buzzard, the wise men ought to do some proper work like everybody else.
That was not at all what the wise men wanted to hear, so they organised an urgent meeting. “This time” said the leading wise man “we really must find the Hoke’s Buzzard. So we will have an even bigger expedition, even further up the mountain, and nobody is to return until the Hoke’s Buzzard has been found!”
The greatest expedition ever, set off; and the whole village were full of expectation that this time the Hoke’s Buzzard really would be found. Months went by without any news, then finally the expedition was seen returning from the mountain. Everybody gathered in the village square to hear the news. “We have” announced the leader “found the Hoke’s Buzzard. As Hoke predicted, it is about twice the size of a crow, it has wings, and probably feathers too. This is conclusive proof that Hoke was right, and that we wise men really do understand the mysteries of the universe. This is a truly great day!”
The crowd gave a massive cheer. For hundreds of years before Hoke was born, the wise men in the village had claimed to have solved the mysteries of the universe, only to be proved wrong later. But this time, the discovery of the Hoke’s Buzzard, proved they really had finally got it right. It was wonderful and amazing. It was incredible and unbelievable, but everybody believed it, because everybody else did. Then a little boy shouted “it is all a hoax, the Emperor has no clothes”. But do not worry about him, he got soundly whipped for speaking out of turn.
What manner of field is the Higgs?
If you have ever fallen over, then you have experienced the effects of the gravitational field. The gravitational field of the earth attracts things towards its centre, and explains the fall of an apple and the orbit of the moon.
Another physical field, that most people have experienced, is the magnetic field; in which magnets can be made to attract or repel each other.
The third field that explains the world around us, is the electric field. If you have ever rubbed a balloon on your jumper, and then stuck it on the ceiling, then you have made use of electric fields. Electric charges come in two types, protons and electrons, and they explain most of what happens on earth. For instance the attraction between protons and electrons explains why your body and a chair stay together; whilst the repulsion between electrons explains why your bottom does not sink into the chair. The repulsion between protons is where the energy comes from in a nuclear fission bomb, and in nuclear power stations.
The Large Hadron Collider, collides protons, and it uses electric and magnetic fields. The protons are set in motion by electric fields; by placing lots of other protons behind them to repel them, or by placing lots of electrons ahead to attract them. In fact the protons are accelerated to nearly the speed of light by continually changing the electric fields.
The other problem with colliding protons, is how to steer them round a circular track so that they collide with each other. This is done with extremely strong magnets, because as protons travel through a particular magnetic field, they always curve in the same direction. The protons in the Large Hadron Collider, end up with so much energy, that they weigh 3500 times their original mass. When two protons with this much energy, collide head-on, they sometimes produce what physicists claim is evidence of the existence of the Higgs Boson. Having claimed to have discovered the Higgs Boson, they now claim to have proof of the existence of the Higgs field.
The gravitational, magnetic and electric fields can all be measured extremely accurately. They are also the basis for all machinery, from simple things like electric motors to complex devices like computers and photocopiers. But what of the Higgs field? Can it be measured? No! Is it employed in any kind of device? No! So what evidence is there for its existence? None, except for the fact that a strange particle may exist for a trillionth of a trillionth of a second. So what use is this Higgs field? Apart from somewhere to graze your unicorn, absolutely none!
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