What is the Higgs Boson?

Lets start with some history

Peter Higgs, a theoretical physicist, proposed the existence of the Higgs Boson as part of the Standard Model of physics in the 1960s.

What is a Boson?

Before we can understand a Boson, we first have to define the four fundamental forces of physics, Electromagnetic Force, Weak Nuclear Force, Strong Nuclear Force, and Gravity. Each of these forces are facilitated by a particle, the EM force is controlled by photons, the weak nuclear force is controlled by W and Z Bosons, and the Strong force is controlled by Gluons. Gravity is supposedly controlled by theoretical particles called Gravitrons, but those have not been proven to exist yet.

What force does the Higgs Boson control?

Technically, none. The Higgs is responsible for giving all other particles mass.

Wait what?

You read that right. The Higgs Boson is a boson that gives all other particles mass. This is because particles interact with the Higgs Field, and by that, react with Higgs Bosons.

Explain it one more time, but slower…

Think of the Higgs Field as a pool filled with syrup. Objects that are supposed to have more mass move through the syrup slower. Objects that have no mass, zip through the syrup like it wasn’t even there. Objects move through the syrup by exchanging virtual “syrup particles”, and when there’s enough particle movement, you see a slosh, the creation of a real syrup particle.

The Higgs field works in the same way as a pool of syrup. For an object to move through the field, it has to exchange virtual Higgs particles with the field. With enough excitement, a real Higgs particle is tossed out of the field.

So how do we find this?

That’s where the Large Hadron Collider comes in. Because the Higgs Boson is a relatively heavy particle (really it weighs nothing, but compared to electrons it is absolutely massive), it is very difficult to excite the Higgs field to the point of creating a particle. The LCH takes streams of protons and anti-protons, and smashes them together at speeds approaching the speed of light. These high energy collisions excite the field enough to make a “slosh”, or generate a real Higgs Boson.

But what does that mean?

There are a bunch of theories that try to explain the rules of the universe, the Standard Model being one of them. The Higgs Boson is the last particle to be discovered in the Standard Model. So yay for the Standard model being right! Except it isn’t. The Standard Model fails to account for gravity, which is why some people are hoping that the “Higgslike” particle discovered on July 4th, 2012, doesn’t really fit the puzzle perfectly. They’re all secretly hoping that this piece is a mega block that just happens to fit close enough, but opens up a whole new part of the puzzle, one that hopefully includes gravity.


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