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Posted by on Jul 4, 2012 in Science |

5 things you should know about the Higgs boson

5 things you should know about the Higgs boson

(C) CERN

Uproar caused the announcement today on behalf of CERN scientists on the possible discovery of the Higgs boson. But what is the Higgs boson? Why is it important? What do I gain if I am an ordinary citizen?

To answer the last question from probably know about the will not help you when buying bread and go to work, and perhaps only serve to initiate a semi intellectual conversation. However, there are things men wonder from the beginning of time, such as “Where do we come?” And “Where are we going?” Which is what scientists try to answer, and where the Higgs boson plays a role.

What is the Higgs boson?

It is the last missing piece of the of physics, a theory that describes the basic parts that make up the universe. The first 11 particles predicted by the model were found, and discover the Higgs boson would validate the model. If the Higgs, however, does not exist, then we must think of another theory to explain how the universe is armed.

Scientists think that after the Big Bang, the universe was a “soup” giant particles traveling at the speed of light, and had no mass. How did win dough into the matter we know today as the planets and stars?

The explanation was proposed in 1964 by six physicists, including the British Peter Higgs. The idea is that there is an invisible energy field called the “Higgs field” covering the entire universe. Some particles, like photons (that make up light), not affected by this field, and therefore have no mass and can travel as fast. Other particles, however, they are affected and slow down with the Higgs field, gaining mass.

As exemplified by the scientist, John Ellis, is as if a blanket of snow throughout the universe, “as if you were in Siberia. Now imagine trying to cross the field of snow. Maybe you’re a skier, and you slip on top. That’s like a particle does not interact with the Higgs field, does not sink into the snow, going very fast. It’s like a massless particle that travels at the speed of light. “

“Maybe you’re using snow shoes, in which case you sink into the Higgs field, you are under the skier’s speed, less than the speed of light is a particle with mass. Because you are interacting with the Higgs field of snow. And finally if you only have your boots, then you sink a lot in the snow, and going very slow. And that’s as much a particle with mass, “he explains.

The Higgs boson is the particle that allows the mechanism by which all other particles such as quarks and electrons gain mass.

Can you find the Higgs boson?

Yes, that is what has been trying to do with the CERN Large (LHC), a giant machine buried under the border of France and Switzerland that smashes protons, trying to play (in miniature), which was after the Big Bang. The problem is that the Higgs decays quickly after being created, which prevents scientists to see directly. Instead what they do is find the particles that takes the waste to disintegrate, so the job is to collect many, many data to try to prove the existence of the Higgs boson. We must also separate the Higgs signal from the other elements produced in the process colliding protons.

What is the Standard Model?

It is, so far, the best explanation scientists have found about how the pieces that make up the universe. It describes 12 fundamental particles, governed by four basic forces. However, the Standard Model does not explain everything, and there are things like “dark matter” and “dark energy” do not understand and could be nothing less that 96% of what exists in the universe.

However, confirm the Standard Model, or modify it, would be a step closer to understanding how our world and perhaps closer to a theory that can also explain dark energy, dark matter and gravity, which is not explained by this model.

If you found the Higgs boson, is just the work of the LHC?

No. There are still many things to explain, as just mentioned, and the can help investigate. May appear dark matter particles in this experiment, inter alia.

Why say “God particle”?

The name comes from a book written by physicist Leon Lederman, called The God Particle: If the Universe is the answer, what is the question? “ , which talks about the history of particle physics. Lederman said to have given the name of the “God particle” because the boson “is so central to today, so crucial for understanding the structure of matter, yet so elusive.” He added however that after you put so because the publisher “did not let us put the goddamn particle (goddamn) although it might be more appropriate, given its villainous nature and costs is causing.”

Many scientists are against the name, because while it has helped to give importance to the subject, exaggerates the importance of the boson, as we have seen, does not answer all the questions about the origin of the universe.

Links:
CERN particle experiments observe Sought Consistent with long-Higgs boson (CERN)
The Higgs boson in 9 keys (Public)
Higgs fever: Your guide to the Most Wanted particle (New Scientist)
The Higgs particle – what it is and what it does (Vancouver Sun)

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