The Higgs Boson is told to be the particle that gives matter its mass. But how is it expected to do this, and what advances are being made into actually finding it?
Physics of particles is no easy matter. The average layman, when confronted with this vast field, will be left in a sea of particle names and weird-sounding suffixes – hadrons, bosons, muons, positrons, gluons and so on. Recently, however, news have arrived that scientists may have found the legendary Higgs Boson, essentially the particle that gives matter its mass. One would need deep knowledge to keep up with the scientific explanations, but a simplified version can be given to a general audience.
Peter Higgs (* 1929) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The theory that organizes the known particles by Science is called the Standard Model. It is composed of 61 particles, effectively being a list of particles disposed in an objective, clear way. The particles in the Standard Model are elementary particles, which means that, as we know them, they aren’t composed by any other particles (thus also being known as fundamental particles). Some of them have mass, while others do not. Mass is a quality of matter, measured in kilograms and different from weight: weight varies from planet to planet, since it measures the attraction force; mass, on the other hand, remains constant – it is the “amount” of matter that never changes and is universal. Light, for instance, has no mass: it is energy and not matter.
Known the concept of mass, an interesting question is how it is obtained: what is there that makes objects have mass. The mechanism behind the Higgs Boson and how it is suppose to do this is quite complicated, but there are great analogies which enlighten us on its work.
General particles can be imagined like sport balls ricocheting everywhere. In this comparison, the Higgs Boson would be sticky, glue-like floor, which would slow the quick balls and cause them to acculumulate. This crest of particles forms mass-featuring matter. A similar analogy occurs when we picture a full bar. The people in it are like particles, crowding a given space. The Higgs Boson would then be a celebrity that walked inside, and that would cause an attraction from the other people – the particles would be joined together in the same way. If other particle (a regular person) walked by, the others wouldn’t be interested, which is why the Higgs Boson would be essential to the occurrence of mass (of course, this is all a theory).
Many simulations have shown the existence of the Higgs Boson, but it can’t be completely certain until it’s found for real. Scientists have now claimed they finally encountered it. The designation of “God Particle” is actually quite disliked by the scientific community, since it gives a kind of “overrated” feeling about it.