Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Higgs Boson

It finally happened, I didn't think it would. Scientists at CERN have finally announced that they have found the signature of a particle that they believe to be the Higgs boson, otherwise known as the "God Particle".

This is what scientists see when they smash particles together looking for the Higgs boson. Source

Despite its importance, many people still haven't heard of the elusive "Higgs boson". What is it really? What does it do? Back in 1964, six scientists all figured out that there must be some particle that "gives" matter mass. This theory was named after one of the scientists, Peter Higgs, and thus the Higgs boson was born. We observe the universe through forces, so the idea of "mass" is rather abstract, Higgs and his fellow scientists theorized that there must be some particle that gives these particles mass, or gives them the inertia that we observe. The best analogy I've heard to describe the effect of the Higgs boson goes something like this: the boson creates a field that can be thought of like water, the larger something is, the harder it is for that object to move through the water, and the smaller something is, the easier it is to move through the water. The analogy is rather simplistic, but I'm not qualified to try to explain how it actually works.

The Higgs field. Source

This particle was supposed to exist, it's essentially why we (humans) build the Large Hadron Collider, but I still never thought we'd find it. I am very excited about this new turn of events, it has been quite some time since we've had a breakthrough in physics, so let's hope this is one. I'm still waiting for more confirmation, but can you imagine what we could do if we figured out how to control mass?

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