Dumb it down
Can someone tell me what this Higgs boson is all about?
Everyone seems to be going on about this Higgs boson particle today, but what is it and why should I give a rat's about it?
So what exactly is this Higgs boson thing?
Well, it’s kind of hard to explain. News agencies have been doing their best to explain it, so here’s our attempt: The Higgs boson is a particular particle that makes up an energy field. This particle is used in scientific equations to help explain certain ‘sciency’ things and so far this Higgs particle has helped scientists to better understand the world around us.
However, the one single problem with the Higgs particle is the fact that no one has actually seen it. Basically, the Higgs particle is a prediction that scientists say if found, could tie up a load of loose ends. Some have even gone as far as to call it the 'God Particle'.
I’m still confused… So is this Einstein’s doing?
No, it’s got nothing to do with him. A scientist named Peter Higgs first proposed the idea back in 1964. He was looking at existing equations that didn’t quite equate to anything, so he added a few ideas of his own and suggested that there is an invisible energy field (called the Higgs field) that is in contact with everything in the universe.
At the time, people wondered why some sub-atomic particles (such as electrons and quarks) weighed differently but were the same size, and that’s where Higgs’ field comes in. The suggestion made by Peter Higgs was that his invisible particles were more attracted to certain sub-atomic particles than others, and this is why particles of the same size weigh differently - because the Higgs particles are pulling them down. It’s simple right?
Yea, whatever you say. So who’s looking for this Higgs boson?
The lads over at CERN have been looking for the Higgs boson particle for the past number of years using their Large Hadron Collider, pictured above. But you’re probably wondering who CERN is exactly. Well, they’re The European Organisation for Nuclear Research and their purpose is to operate the world's largest particle physics laboratory, which is situated in the northwest suburbs of Geneva on the Franco–Swiss border.
It’s been in operation since 1954 and the organisation has 20 European member states. Sadly, Ireland isn’t one of them.
So have they found what they're looking for?
Well, they claim to have found a new particle alright, but more testing will be needed to determine if it's the illusive Higgs particle or not.
Oh right. So how is this Higgs thing going to affect me?
Well… it won’t. It’s not going to affect your everyday life if they find the Higgs boson or not, but it will affect how scientists look at mass and why some particles weigh differently even though they’re the exact same size. The experiments going on at CERN will help the scientific community greatly, but as for you and me, it probably won’t make a blind bit of difference.
If you’re wondering why there’s so much chatter about even though it won’t really affect us, then take into account the size of the experiment (it’s massive) and the fact that the world of physics has been pretty quiet as of late. Basically, the lads are just looking for something to do…
So it’s got nothing to do with the anti-matter that Dan Brown’s Angles and Demons was going on about?
Nope. It’s got nothing to do with that fictional drivel.