What the Hell is a Higgs Boson Particle?

Higgs Boson Peter Higgs

This week one of the most important discoveries ever was made in the field of theoretical physics! Have I lost you yet? So basically all of us and everything around us is made up of tiny little particles which in turn are made from tiny protons, neutrons, and electrons, which also come from these elementary tiny bits called quarks. But the question over the years has been where do these quarks come from? Or more simply, where does matter come from? This Scottish dude Peter Higgs said sometime in the 1960s that the Higgs Boson particle shows up for a fraction of a flash when two particles are colliding, and provides mass to the product, or basically creates new stuff from stuff crashing together.

There is this giant machine in Switzerland called the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, that serves the purpose of a seven mile long particle demolition derby. The LHC has been smashing together particles 40 million times-per-second, 24 hours-a-day for a minute now. Just recently, scientists agreed that they found the Higgs Boson after months and months of studying data. That’s pretty awesome on its own, but here’s the kicker: the existence of this little tiny particle changes the whole approach as to how we think about our being. The newly approved theory via the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle is rooted in this invisible, intangible field that exists around us like water, and we only can notice its presence when something interacts with it, like ripples in the water. Totally lost? Stay with me.

So mass is actually how deeply something reacts with this Higgs Field. Something is not actually heavier than another thing. The object considered to have more mass just moves more slowly through the field. Lets think of it this way: The Higgs Field is like the concept of fame in hip-hop. We can’t see fame, but we understand it and know it exists. We can also agree that one artist is more famous than another. For the sake of description, lets take Rick Ross and Wax. Rick Ross is the artist with more “mass” because he is slowed by the fame surrounding him, making his tracks more static and formulaic. Wax, on the other hand, is less held back by the fame and spits quick verses on more progressive tracks. To complete the analogy, the Higgs Boson particle is Def Jam Records, the thing that created these two artists and introduced them to fame.

So why should I care about Def Jam, or the fame field? What does the discovery of the Higgs Boson mean to me? It means that the general picture of what scientists are studying is correct. So maybe you care about understanding what you are made of and where matter comes from. Maybe you want to know more about the particles that make up the particles that make up the amoeba. We are on the right track. An added bonus is that now we have a basis to investigate a bunch of awesome other stuff in the universe like wormholes and dark matter. Shucks, maybe we will discover how to travel at warp speed like in Star Trek or step from New York to London. It could happen, bro.


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