Sunday, April 16, 2006

simulated particle decay from the Higgs boson
done by the ATLAS detector

First predicted in 1963 by the British physicist Peter Higgs, after a walk in the Scottish mountains, the Higgs boson is now commonly referred to as The God Particle.

This is how physicist Simon Hands explains it:

"The Higgs boson is an undiscovered elementary particle, thought to be a vital piece of the closely fitting jigsaw of particle physics. Like all particles, it has wave properties akin to those ripples on the surface of a pond which has been disturbed; indeed, only when the ripples travel as a well defined group is it sensible to speak of a particle at all. In quantum language the analogue of the water surface which carries the waves is called a field. Each type of particle has its own corresponding field….We believe the Higgs field is responsible for endowing virtually all the matter we know about with mass."

In 1993, the UK Science Minister, William Waldegrave, challenged physicists to produce an answer that would fit on one page to the question 'What is the Higgs boson, and why do we want to find it?' You can go here and read a few of the responses.

You can read more about the Higgs boson here, here, and here.