Professor Daniel Turgeman

“The Fullness Thereof ”: The Significance of the Higgs Mechanism in Jewish Thought and Theology

Our fundamental understanding of matter has been revolutionized in the past century. This revolution reached a climax in 2012 with the discovery of the Higgs boson — the proof of the mechanism that generates particle masses. The conclusion, with regard to our understanding of matter, is that there is no such thing as “matter.” The first section of this talk is devoted to explaining the scientific theory, while the second section delves into the theological meaning of this new paradigm.

As we experience it, there is a clear divide between light and matter.  Matter has mass, is bounded in local space, and is conserved (what might be calld the “law of conservation of Matter”). Light, on the other hand, is massless, spreads over space, and has the ability to be created and annihilated. This clear divide began to crack with Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2 and ultimately collapsed with the discovery of the Higgs boson in July 2012. In this talk, I shall try to elucidate the physical theory behind the Higgs mechanism and its deeper meaning in relation to Jewish thought and theology.