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Why is the discovery of the Higgs boson so important?
It’s absolutely fundamental to understanding how the universe works at a basic level. If you look at your hand, it’s got mass because the empty space is full of Higgs particles and all the other particles in your body are bumping off those and that’s how they get mass. Without the Higgs you wouldn’t exist, there would be nothing solid in the universe.
Do you agree with its other name, the ‘God particle’?
No, because it’s meaningless. It comes from the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman, who referred to it as the ‘goddamn particle’ because he couldn’t find it. His publisher left out the ‘damn’.
I’m rather surprised that it happened in my lifetime - I certainly had no idea it would happen in my lifetime at the beginning, more than 40 years ago, because at the beginning people had no idea about where to look for it, so it’s really amazing for me to find out that it’s really enough… for a discovery claim.
I think it shows amazing dedication by the young people involved with these colossal collaborations to persist in this way, on what is a really a very difficult task. I congratulate them. - Professor Peter Ware Higgs
A simulation of a particle collision inside the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland. When two protons collide inside the machine, they create an energetic explosion that gives rise to new and exotic particles.
Why are scientists looking for it? The Higgs Boson explained.
Finding the Higgs Boson would explain the origins of particle mass and therefore why everything in the universe works the way it does.
The current mainstream theory is explained by something called the standard model. What is it? The standard model categorizes all fundamental particles (photons, electrons, protons etc) into a few groups (leptons, quarks and force carriers). The standard model predicted all of these particles and they have all been observed in experiments.
Now imagine this: if it wasn’t for a certain something, these particles would all move around the universe at the speed of light not interacting with one another and not creating our world the way it is. This certain something is: Mass. In order for the standard model to work and for the fundamental particles to have mass the theory of the Higgs Field (theoretical invisible energy field, which stretches throughout the entire universe) was proposed. Here, any particle that interacts with the Higgs Field will be dragged down and gain mass. Imagine the Higgs Field acting as a kind of selective treacle. Depending on the level of interaction with the field the mass of the particles can vary. The more the particles are slowed through this field, the more they gain mass. If a particle does not interact with the field and just whizzes right through, then it has no mass at all - such as photons.
The Higgs Boson is the smallest bit of the Higgs Field. To understand the Higgs Field think of water (a continuous medium with no holes in it), which is made up of countless H2O-molecules. Higgs Field that gives subatomic particles their mass, is made of countless individual Higgs Bosons; just like water is made of countless individualH2O-molecules.
Theoreticians predict that the energy exchanged in a direct collision of two protons travelling at nearly light speed should force the creation of a Higgs Boson. If there is a Higgs Boson, physicists suggest that, it will immediately disintegrate after the collision into other recognizable particle pairs. It is the presence of these ‘smoking guns’ that will finally indicate that Higgs Boson does exist.
Was there smoke at Tevatron?
The scientists at Cern are increasing the particle-accelerator’s energy, which will break the LHC’s own high-energy record.
In an article for the BBC, Steve Myers, director for accelerators and technology at CERN, hopes the boost will improve the collider’s chances of finding the illusive Higgs particle.