The Higgs Boson Simplified

Published on Thursday, July 05, 2012 in , ,

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory's standard particle model diagramYesterday (July 4, 2012), the big item in the news concerned CERN's announcement that they were 99.99995% sure they'd discovered a Higgs-like particle.

This is a very important discovery, but since it deals with particle physics, there's plenty of confusion among the general populace as to what this means exactly. Fortunately, there are some great resources out there that can help explain.

We can't talk about the Higgs boson without delving into the world of subatomic particles. If you need a quick refresher course on electrons, neutrons, and protons, check out the Venus Explains the Atom video in my Hunting the Elements post.

For a good, quick pre-discovery look at the Higgs boson itself, watch What is a Higgs Boson? below:

In short, the discovery of the Higgs boson is exciting, because it verifies a theory about why anything has mass, and not just energy. The discovery gets at the very heart of existence as we know it.

As mentioned in Plus Magazine's article The Higgs boson: a massive discovery, the particle itself is difficult to find, as it decays almost immediately. If that's the case, how do you find it?

In the following video, The Higgs Boson and Mass, there's a more detailed view of how the Higgs boson and the Higgs field are believed to work, as well as how the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is being used to find it:

Yes, this all has to do with Einstein's Theory of Relativity. If you want to get a better idea of Einstein's theory and its impact, I recommend the documentary Einstein's Big Idea.

The final video I'll post is the most detailed, yet still quite clear, idea of the nature of the Higgs boson and how the LHC was used to find it. It explains everything in a simplified chalkboard-type talk, and is called The Higgs Boson Explained (full screen recommended):

Don't be afraid to look for further information on it. On YouTube's minutephysics channel, start with The Higgs Boson, Part I, and go from there!

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