[image fron CERN]
I’ve been ill for the past few days (thankfully, nothing serious), and I’m just catching up with the news about the ‘God’ particle; more scientifically referred to as the Higgs particle, or Higgs boson.
Scientists haven’t quite claimed that it is the Higgs boson they’ve been hoping to find since 1964, but they believe it very well might be; or, it may be a Higgs boson, and they might find more if they keep looking.
It’s easy to get bogged down in theory, but from what I can understand, a boson is a subatomic particle that permits multiple particles to exist in the same state. The experimentally observed elementary bosons are: photons, the force carriers of electromagnetic fields; the W and Z bosons, the force carriers of the weak force (responsible for radiation); and gluons, the force carriers of the strong force (the force that holds an atom’s nucleus together).
The Higgs boson (after Peter Higgs) was postulated as the particle that enables other particles to have mass (the graviton, a particle that enables gravity, has also been postulated, but is not within the sphere of particle physics). In the world of particle physics, the Higgs boson is massive; additionally, it decays extremely quickly (and is no longer there to observe), so a very high-energy particle accelerator is required to create and document its existence.
The Higgs boson is the final experimental piece of the puzzle that would confirm the Standard Model of particle physics, which is why physicists are so excited (well, maybe not the ones who have postulated other theories).
The possibility that Particle Physicists have found the Higgs boson is no immediate boon to mankind, although it would push the frontier of knowledge further, and may lead to other long-sought discoveries, like supersymmetry, other dimensions, or other theories that were postulated that reach beyond the Standard Model. It should help scientists to delve further into the big questions, such as, what are we made of? It will certainly help explain how the universe developed. Perhaps this discovery, like the theory of quantum mechanics, will lead to a cornucopia of future inventions.
It’s all pretty darned exciting, but it’s just one more step on the path of knowledge.