There is blanket media coverage today of the Higgs boson discovery (AKA the ‘God particle’).
We’ve read a lot of it. We’ve been listening to scientists on the radio, reading analysis from physicists in the newspapers and I have trawled the WHOLE of the Internet trying to find something remotely comprehensible. The whole of it. We really have.
Right now we are Higgs boson-ed up to my eyeballs. And we still don’t get it.
But we have just stumbled across this little gem from The Guardian online. It is the shiz and will help you fake your way through a conversation about this whole Higgs boson business for the rest of the day.
How to explain Higgs boson discovery
For people you’re trying to impress: “The Higgs boson is an elementary scalar particle first posited in 1962, as a potential byproduct of the mechanism by which a hypothetical, ubiquitous quantum field – the so-called Higgs field – gives mass to elementary particles.
For harassed, sleep-deprived parents: “If the constituent parts of matter were sticky-faced toddlers, then the Higgs field would be like one of those ball pits they have in the children’s play area at IKEA. Each coloured plastic ball represents a Higgs boson: collectively they provide the essential drag that stops your toddler/electron falling to the bottom of the universe, where all the snakes and hypodermic needles are.”
For English literature undergraduates: “The Higgs boson (pronounced “boatswain”) is a type of subatomic punctuation with a weight somewhere between a tiny semicolon and an invisible comma. Without it the universe would be a meaningless cloud of gibberish – a bit like The Da Vinci Code, if you read that.”
For teenagers studying physics: “No, I know it’s not an atom. I didn’t say it was. Well, I meant a particle. Yes, I do know what electromagnetism is, thank you very much – unified forces, Einstein, blah blah blah, mass unaccounted for, yadda yadda, quarks, Higgs boson, the end. It was a long time ago, and I’m tired. Change the channel – we’re missing Come Dine With Me.”
For religious fundamentalists: “There is no Higgs boson.”
You can read the rest of their great explanations here.
We posted this tongue-and-cheek look at the Higgs Boson discovery after finding no comprehensible explanation anywhere in the news today. We called out in the comments section for someone who could solve our dilemma. And here we have it – the power of the Mamamia community in action.
Anon (I wish you’d used your name so we could all applaud you!) has posted this very short and succinct and UNDERSTANDABLE summary – so for those of you looking for a more factual explanation, here it is. You have her/him to thank!
Higgs Boson is a small particle. Start with a drop of water. A drop of water is made up of water molecules, which consist of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. So break down the oxygen atom and it’s made of protons, neutrons and electrons. These small particles were once thought to be the smallest.
However, protons and neutrons are made up of smaller particles called quarks. Not all quarks are equal though, they come in 6 flavours and sort of come in pairs (yes, they are called flavours), those flavours are up and down, strange and charm, and finally, top and bottom.
The other particle that makes up atoms are electrons, Electrons are from a group of particles called Leptons, there are six flavours of leptons, electron, electron neutrino, muon, muon neutrino, tau, tau neutrino These are small particles and neutrinos are very rare. They can also travel through solids, so they are pretty tricky.
That leaves the third group, the bosons. Higgs Boson is one of these particles and was theorized in the early 60′s. Higgs Boson is the one that gives particles mass, so for the study of physics it is a profound discovery.
Do you know what the Higgs boson discovery is? Can you explain it to us (please)?