What Is Higgs Boson And Why It Is Called “The God Particle”

Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN discovered the particle in 2012.

Noble prize-winning physicist Peter Higgs, responsible for the one the greatest scientific discoveries in the last century, died at the age of 94 .

Peter Higgs’s ground-breaking work helped explain how everything in the universe has mass.

In 1964, he theorised the existence of the Higgs Boson, a fundamental force-carrying particle associated with the Higgs field. The Higgs field is a quantum field that gives mass to particles and exists throughout the universe. In the Higgs field, the Higgs boson acts as a wave and helps give mass to other fundamental particles through its interaction in terms of its vibration (oscillation).

His theory was proved 50 years later when researchers at the Large Hadron Collider, the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, discovered the particle in 2012. Mr Higgs was awarded the Noble prize a year later.

What is Higgs Boson?

Particles make up everything in the universe but they did not have any mass when the universe began. They all sped around at the speed of light, according to the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN). Everything we see — planets, stars and life — emerged after particles gained their mass from a fundamental field associated with the particle known as the Higgs boson.

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Photo Credit: CERN

The particle has a mass of 125 billion electron volts making it 130 times bigger than a proton , according to CERN. Interestingly, the subatomic particles known as bosons are named after Indian Physicist Satyendra Nath Bose.

Why is it called the God Particle?

The Higgs boson is popularly known as the “the God Particle”. The name originated from Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman’s book on the particle which he titled the “Goddamn Particle” — owing to frustration over how difficult it was to detect.

However, his publishers changed the name to the “The God Particle”, which often draws ire from religious communities.

Artistic view of the Higgs field

Artistic view of the Higgs field  Photo Credit: CERN

The name stuck as it captures the importance of the force-giving particle without which no particles would have mass and the world as we know it would not exist.

Who was Peter Higgs?

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Photo Credit: CERN

Born in UK’s Newcastle upon Tyne in 1929, Mr Higgs studied at King’s College in London and taught at the University of Edinburgh since the 1950s.

Described as a modest man who published only a few scientific papers, he disliked his sudden fame calling it “a bit of a nuisance”, even cringing when the term “Higgs boson” was used. Even as a life-long atheist, he disliked the name “God particle”.

With AFP inputs

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