Has the Higgs boson been finally discovered?


This illustration by me has no relevance to the post but feels like it could

I don’t know enough physics to qualify as a physics nerd. If physics were a swanky nightclub, I would be turned away by the muscly security men even with a proper invitation and a supermodel as an arm candy. In simpler words, I have no fucking clue (NFC) about most things physics.

With this as a backdrop it is time to take note of the intensifying rumors that CERN particle physicists are preparing to announce the discovery of the Higgs boson, the ever elusive subatomic particle that gives mass to all other particles and, by implication, you and I.

The scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which as the name suggests is a large collider that collides particles at extremely high speeds to try and produce the Higgs boson, have scheduled a seminar on July 4. That’s when, according to the current buzz, the discovery of the Higgs boson could be announced. There was some indication given in December last year that the particle actually exists and may have been found. After six months of analyzing the data collected by the LHC there is expectation that we are now close to the Higgs boson.

Incidentally, the boson in the Higgs boson honors Professor Satyendra Nath Bose, an Indian physicist and mathematician also celebrated for his collaborative work known as Bose-Einstein statistics and Bose-Einstein condensate. The Higgs part comes from Peter Higgs who was among those scientists who in the 1960s predicted the existence of a new particle that was named the Higgs boson.

Those who know the subject well (and that automatically excludes me and a vast majority of humanity) believe that the CERN scientists had seen signs of the particle’s existence in December but they were not yet like a jarful of fireflies.

It could be said with some literary liberty that if the Higgs field, which is somewhat like an energy field that pervades the entire universe, did not exist life as we know it would not exist. Without this invisible field inhibiting them all particles would zip around the universe at the speed of light which in turn would mean that atoms as we know it would not have formed and hence eventually everything else, including you and I, would have remained unrealized. The invisible energy field imparts these particles mass as they pass through the field. It also slows them down. That is the simplest way I can put this search in.

The discovery of the Higgs boson or the failure thereof is not likely to change anything at all in any discernible way for humanity. It would give scientists some bragging rights for having finally laid bare, even if it is for a fraction of a fleeting second, the very foundation of physics. You can be reasonably sure, for instance, that your monthly bills will not stop as a result of the Higgs boson discovery, nor will your creditors feel so munificent as to write off your debt. There is no likelihood of inexplicable improvement in your sex life because of the Higgs boson or, for that matter, a pay hike.

The only thing that will be profoundly disrupted is our entire understanding of the universe if the Higgs boson is not found. If it is indeed discovered, we would have found the final piece of what is known as the Standard Model of the universe. The Standard Model of the universe says that the universe is made up of matter consisting of four percent of atoms, 20 percent dark matter and 76 percent dark energy. What that means is that we cannot observe or fully understand 96 percent of the universe. Or as we physicists describe it, it is the NFC realm.

Incidentally, bosons are the ones that carry forces of different kinds compared to ferminos, the other subatomic particle, that constitute matter. So you may say, “May the bosons be with you.”


About chutiumsulfate

South Asians can infer from my name what I am. View all posts by chutiumsulfate

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