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Maillot Vert: Scientific Wonder Grips Tour de France!


Something big is happening, something that's eluded mankind for a long time. Something that could alter the universe. And it's happening in France.

On Wednesday, scientists at CERN, the European atom-smashing social media sensation, are expected to announce that they have all but confirmed the existence of the so-called "god particle." Known to scientists as the Higgs boson, observation of the particle is expected to give scientists a much better understanding of how matter achieves its size and shape. Confirmation of the Higgs boson doesn't change the universe so much as increase our knowledge, but the elusive particle's discovery is a momentous occasion. Scientists have long wandered the wilderness of subatomic particle theory like Odysseus looking for a way home, a way to confirm the existence of the Higgs boson particle. And now, in a lab on the French-Swiss border, perilously close to the routes of the Tour de Suisse and Tour de France, right here in early July, the peak of the cycling season, they are set to announce the greatest discovery in possibly all of human history. Which raises the question...

Is Peter Sagan the Higgs boson particle?

On the flip...

Tomorrow's announcement tracks perfectly with the rise of Sagan, the Liquigas victory machine, the President of Fastvakia, a phenomenon who has until just now defied scientific understanding. It's all just a little too perfect to ignore or slough off as a mere coincidence. Let's put on our science-y hat and take a good hard look at the similarities and differences. Also, I will call in an actual scientist (Jens or Drew, or maybe Jimbo) to confirm these observations. You know, for their validismness.

Similarities Between Peter Sagan and the Higgs Boson Particle

  • Both the Higgs boson particle and Peter Sagan owe their discovery to American sources, only for the moment to be usurped by Europeans. The search for the Higgs boson particle was started at Fermilab in Illinois, and could have continued at the Superconducting Supercollider in Texas if we as a nation didn't decide in 1993 that we were too cheap to do anything big (or cool) in science ever again. Similarly, Peter Sagan first gained notoriety in the United States, winning two stages of the 2010 Tour of California and making it clear he could have won more. While Sagan is prone to revisiting the scene of his American ascendancy, he has been throughly hijacked by Europeans.
  • According to the Standard Model, the Higgs field (a non-zero vacuum expectation) breaks gauge symmetry to trigger the Higgs mechanism, a process that converts mass-less particles into something with mass. We've always known there was mass, but until now we've never quite been able to explain its creation. Along eerily similar lines, cycling has long known of the existence of climbers who can sprint, and sprinters who can climb. But until Sagan's arrival we've never fully realized that possibility. Now we know, as particle physicists are saying. Now we know.
  • Oh, and the Hbp has its own field. Its own mechanism. It doesn't play the other particles' games, it plays its own. Sound like someone we know?
  • Some of the Higgs boson particle's features include the fact that it has zero color and electric charge. Sagan too is known for giving colorless statements after his victories and showing no electric charge in his celebrations. Also, like the Higgs boson particle, Sagan has an antiparticle (Daniel Oss).
  • If all that sounds like pointy-headed mumbo-jumbo, here's the part that has scientists and scientifically-oriented cycling fans murmuring with delight: due to its extreme mass, the Higgs boson particle, one of the massive particles in the Standard Model of Elementary Particles, is theorized to cause corrections to the masses of W and Z bosons. In other words, their significance fluctuates at the will of the Higgs boson particle. Well... isn't that exactly what Sagan has done to cycling?

No scientific postulate would be worth its chops if it were written by a fish lawyer weren't tested with counter-evidence and theories. So with that in mind, I can admit there are a few troubling questions. For starters, the Higgs boson particle is more or less everywhere. Literally. That includes in Mark Cavendish's legs. Can Peter Sagan be everywhere? No. For example, he cannot be second, third, fourth or any lower position in a sprint when he puts his mind to it.

Jens suggested that the Higgs boson particle has a far greater mass than its fellow particles, raising the possibility that perhaps a larger rider like Johan Van Summeren is the Higgs boson particle. Finally, the nature of the particle hasn't been understood well before now, but its general existence is no surprise, going back before 1989, when Sagan was born. To trace it to Sagan, then, would require some way to define what Sagan was prior to his birth. Nothing can be ruled out, but it raises both scientific and philosophical questions that are not easily answered.

FIne. No question of this magnitude can be just wrapped up in a neat little ball. But ask yourself this: can you prove that Peter Sagan is not the Higgs boson particle? No. You cannot. Case closed.