Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Higgs Boson Found...

Finally! A Higgs boson-like particle discovery has been claimed at Large Hadron Collider in CERN. Or as some people put it, "Higgs boson: scientists 99.999% sure 'God Particle' has been found"

• The Standard Model is the simplest set of ingredients - elementary particles - needed to make up the world we see in the heavens and in the laboratory

Quarks combine together to make, for example, the proton and neutron - which make up the nuclei of atoms today - though more exotic combinations were around in the Universe's early days

Leptons come in charged and uncharged versions; electrons - the most familiar charged lepton - together with quarks make up all the matter we can see; the uncharged leptons are neutrinos, which rarely interact with matter

• The "force carriers" are particles whose movements are observed as familiar forces such as those behind electricity and light (electromagnetism) and radioactive decay (the weak nuclear force)

• The Higgs boson came about because although the Standard Model holds together neatly, nothing requires the particles to have mass; for a fuller theory, the Higgs - or something else - must fill in that gap

Rather embarrassingly I was just 'invited' to give a brief talk about the Higgs in front of everyone in the office.

I used David Miller's now infamous analogy of the Higgs field as being like Margaret Thatcher moving through a crowded room, gaining mass as other people congregate around her.

The Higgs boson is the quantum of the Higgs field. This field interacts with other particles - this is called the Higgs mechanism. This interaction gives those particles their mass. The Higgs boson is indeed far more massive than many other particles - including the proton - but it 'gives' it it's mass, it is not a sub-particle of it. In the same way you 'might' give me a beer but not be part of me.

And by 'beer' I mean absorption of Nambu–Goldstone bosons arising in spontaneous symmetry breaking.

Think of the Higgs as omnipresent treacle. The bigger you are and the faster you try and move - the heavier you seem.

The reason why particles stop after a few inches in those bubble chambers is usually because they have hit something else with mass. Mass that's been created by the Higgs mechanism.

Higgs (fields, bosons & mechanisms) operate throughout all of space - even in a vacuum. A bit like an electric field does. In fact Higgs bosons are actually lurking 'invisibly' in every vacuum so if you blast enough energy into a particle collision one might actually pop into existence. This is what CERN have managed to do.

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