Who will win the Nobel?

The students just finished writing lab reports on Galileo and inertia.  They worked hard this weekend exploring the ideas of why do all objects in free fall accelerate uniformly towards the Earth no matter what the mass.  The short explanation is that as weight, or the force of gravity of an object increases, the inertia of the object increases proportionally, thus the acceleration due to gravity is uniform for all objects.

A question came up today, “what is inertia, is it a force?”  Many of the students wrote this in the rough draft of their introductions, and I corrected them.  Or they wrote it on their exams, and again I corrected them. According to our textbooks inertia is a property of matter which resists force.   I briefly discussed this in a post in early September.   What does this have to do with the Nobel Prize?  Well there are many suggesting that Peter Higgs will get the prize.  I watched this nice video from Nova last night.  As you can read in my posting from about a year ago, the idea of the Higgs field is that the Higgs (inertia) causes a force that is proportional to acceleration.  So even though all of our textbooks tells us that inertia is NOT a force, the recent discovery of the Higgs Boson might make us have to revise how we teach Newton’s Laws.

F= ma

might take on a new meaning, where F is now the Higgs Force.

I imagine after I pass back their exams tomorrow,  a few students will ask about their “wrong” answer where they called inertia a force.   Ahh, but they didn’t mention the Higgs.