After nearly 30 years of searching, scientists working with CERN’s Large Hadron Collider earlier this week announced the discovery of the God Particle, formally known as the Higgs boson. Since not everyone has multiple advanced science and engineering degrees from the world’s top universities, this news may have you scratching your head, thinking This sounds important…but what is the God particle?? To help clarify this mystery, here’s a roundup of everything you need to know about the Higgs boson God Particle, its definition, who found it, and what its discovery means.
What is the Higgs boson God Particle?
The Higgs boson is the final missing piece of the Standard Model, the theory that explains the basic building blocks of our universe. Finding the Higgs validates the entire model.
Scientists believe that in the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang, particles zipped around the universe at the speed of light with no mass, and no inertia. It was only through their interaction with the “Higgs field” that they acquired mass and were capable of forming the universe.
But, what is the Standard Model?
In short, the Standard Model is a “mathematical description of the elementary particles of matter and the electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces by which they interact.
Writes Al Jazeera:
Confirming the Standard Model, or perhaps modifying it, would be a step towards the holy grail of physics – a ‘theory of everything’ that encompasses dark matter, dark energy and the force of gravity, which the Standard Model also does not explain. It could also shed light on even more esoteric ideas, such as the possibility of parallel universes.
And wait, what about the Higgs field?
The Higgs field is a theoretical and invisible energy field that pervades the whole cosmos. Some particles, like the photons that make up light, are not affected by it and therefore have no mass. Others find it drags on them as porridge drags on a spoon.
So, why is the God particle so important?
This one, I’ll leave to those far more smarter than I.
It’s a crossroads in science
“To me, the takeaway message is that we seem to be closing a chapter on the last decades of particle physics, and we’re entering a new era of examining the properties, and we hope very much to push beyond the standard model. We’re really at a crossroads now.
“It’s an indication that the last 45 years of particle physics has been on the right track, and now we hope to look beyond the standard model into why particles gain mass. This may be observations of supersymmetry, other dimensions, [and other] theories that were developed to go beyond the Higgs boson.”
— Rob McPherson, physics professor at the University of Victoria and spokesperson for the ATLAS Canada Collaboration via CBC.
It helps answer basic questions about how the universe evolved
“Today’s discovery teaches us something fundamental about the building blocks of the universe and how the fundamental particles that build the world around us acquire mass.
“The Higgs boson matters because it tells us about ‘matter.’ This is curiosity-driven research and addresses basic questions about the evolution of the universe.
“In addition, this curiosity-driven research also leads to many important applications. It was exciting to see how today’s seminar at CERN [the European organization for nuclear research] was broadcast via the World Wide Web to all continents, using the technology pioneered at CERN. Particle accelerators have many applications in material science and medicine.”
— Prof. Stefan Soldner-Rembold, from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester, England, quoted on the Guardian website via CBC.