Higgs boson Cover Art
When was the Higgs boson discovered?
We are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the Higgs boson’s discovery, with our science cover art illustrated for Science News magazine. This follows our cover art created almost 10 years ago for Science News, when the Higgs boson was first discovered! Read on to learn more about this elusive particle, and what physicists have learned so far.
Who discovered the Higgs boson?
This almost feels like a trick question. If you guess Higgs, you’re almost right. The Higgs particle is in fact named after physicist Peter Higgs, but not because he discovered it. Peter Higgs, along with colleagues Higgs, Kibble, Guralnik, Hagen, Brout, Englert, and countless others, predicted the particle in the 1960s. You can learn more about the scientist Peter Higgs in the new book, “Elusive”, reviewed here at Science News.
The actual discovery of the Higgs particle is credited to many, many different scientists working at research centers across the world. The primary credit goes to the research by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the particle accelerator CERN.
Why is it called the ‘God particle’?
You may have heard the term ‘god particle’ in reference to the Higgs particle. The name is so catchy it stuck in the public’s imagination after Physicist Leon Lederman published the book, “The God Particle: If the Universe Is The Answer, What is the Question”.
Many physicists balk at the name and the lofty connotations, but it has helped to capture the public’s imagination for a highly complex topic. Physicists hoped that many secrets would be revealed by discovering the Higgs particle, and that this particle could be the key to solving age-old mysteries of our universe.
Has that happened, though? Well, we don’t know as much as hoped, but this is still only the beginning. It took ~50 years from theorizing that Higgs existed, before its actual discovery. It only stands to reason that much more time, hard work, and investment will be required to truly understand the Higgs boson.
So wait, at this point you’re probably wondering…
What exactly is a Higgs boson?
Our current understanding is that it is an elementary particle, like a quark, electron, or photon. The Higgs boson particle is part of the Higgs field, which provides mass for all other particles we know today. However, as far as we know, it is singularly unique in having NO spin. All other known particles spin in the field, something that becomes important in quantum physics.
Observing the way the Higgs boson interacts in real-time gives scientists data to interpret whether or not the Standard Model of particle physics checks out. Careful measurements and data sets all paint a picture of how this particle interacts with other particles. It may even answer what dark matter actually is and how our universe expanded after the Big Bang.
Want to learn more about Higgs?
For a curated explanation of the state of our understanding, we always recommend the science-writing at Science News magazine. You can also get information directly from the source: CERN. CERN has a wealth of explanations for everything Higgs boson. You can check out more on their website here.
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