July 4, 2012 was a huge day in the study of physics. Scientists announced the discovery of the previously only theorized Higgs boson. This elemental particle is thought to be part of the theoretical Higgs Field and gives all other particles their mass.
The Higgs boson/particle was named after theoretical physicist Peter Higgs who, in 1964, was one of several scientists to propose the existence of the Higgs mechanism which explains how particles get their mass. In order for this mechanism to be proven, the Higgs particle or boson must exist.
Searching for something on a particle level that deteriorates almost instantly after being created is tricky business. Unless you have a high energy particle accelerator, you are probably never going to find the Higgs boson. Experiments to discover or learn more about the Higgs boson were conducted using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN starting in early 2010, and were performed at Fermilab’s Tevatron until it closed in September 2011.
Whether you understand theoretical physics or not, the discovery of the Higgs boson is a big deal. It helps explain a basic part of particle physics. I’m sure we will here more about it and further discoveries relating to the Higgs field and mechanism in the future. It is a good idea to at least have an idea of what the Higgs boson is all about. I’m no physicist, so I gave you the very simple explanation of the Higgs boson. Here are a couple resources that give more detail, yet won’t require you needing a degree in Physics to understand.
- The website How Stuff Works has a pretty good article explaining What Exactly Is A Higgs Boson? in more detail, yet not over most people’s heads.
- Here is a link to a short PBS video about Peter Higgs and how he developed his theory about the Higgs particle.
- Stef at Educating Laytons made us this great physics word find puzzle to help celebrate the discovery of the Higgs Particle using lots of physics terms.
Did you see the news about the Higgs discovery? Did you know what it was until I told you? Most people had no idea of the significance of this find. Feel free to wow your kids and friends with your new found knowledge of particle and theoretical physics!