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Why Higgs Boson Matters To The Business World

Theoretical physics and consumer technology are connected, say physicists turned MBAs Kim Nilsson and Oscar Mariani

Kim Nilsson was a Hubble Astronomer at the Space Telescope European Coordinating Facility and a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy before embarking on the Cranfield MBA.

The news that the Higgs Boson was discovered was a fantastic moment for science. 

Whereas it is unlikely that the discovery itself will have any obvious technological advantages for us, this sort of ground-breaking science is incredibly important to our society, and to business.

There are three reasons why basic science is important to us. Firstly, pushing technology to its limits in order to find the smallest particles, or the history of the Universe for that matter, will always further technological development. The CCD cameras in our cell phones and cameras came from astronomer's relentless pursuit to understand the cosmos.

Secondly, children and adolescents hearing about these discoveries will be inspired and motivated to join higher education, educating the population which business and society can take advantage of.

Finally, scientific discoveries inspire humanity on a greater level. Science is equal to all human beings, it is global and boundariless and has a very long-term perspective unlike our day to day business lives. Every new discovery moves humanity one step higher on a ladder of knowledge which will one day give all of Earth prosperity.

Oscar Mariani graduated with an MSc in Physics Engineering and an MSc in Optics and Photonics from MIP Politecnico di Milano and went on to conduct research at the Polish Academy of Sciences. After returning to MIP to do an MBA he worked as a consultant at Bain & Co. and is now store manager for Hermes in Milan.

Higgs Boson experimental confirmation it is an important milestone in nuclear physics. However, the general media excitement around this event seems a bit exaggerated: even someone graduated in physics like me can barely explain what it is and describe properly the theory of bosons.

But there is for sure something positive in this excitement: it breaks down the prejudice that physics is a waste of money that does not lead to anything useful.

Even if it can take decades to be tangible in our day-by-day life, similar discoveries can dramatically change technology. For instance, no one in the 1950's would have thought that breakthroughs in studies of stimulated emission of light would result in the extensive roll-out of lasers as it has today (internet fibers, medicine, barcode readers...). It just takes time to understand a phenomenon, control it and find an application.

Of course Higgs Boson will not impact the business community for many years. But it doesn't mean that research is not a key asset for many business entities. So probably it means leaving the Higgs Boson to the scientific community and focusing on looking for valuable engineering R&D which is rolled out every day in universities all around the world.

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