Hugo Dugdale explains the history and importance of the Higgs Boson particle, and its affect on life. In 1964, Professor Peter Higgs proposed a theoretical particle that spread across the whole universe, paving the way for life itself. The theoretical particle’s existence was proved on 14 March 2013, and is now named the Higgs Boson. The discovery confirmed the Standard Model, and established the way modern physics is thought of today. To understand the importance of the Higgs Boson, first one must understand the Standard model and what it predicts.
The Standard Model predicts the movement of all sub atomic particles, and the way in which they will interact with each other. It was developed through the 20th century, and a universal layout for it was agreed in the 1970s by various scientists. Despite this it is still nowhere near complete because the universe is full of unexplored phenomena’s.
There are three types of nuclear interactions between particles; weak, strong and electromagnetic. These three interactions occur between all sub-atomic particles, and give off varying amounts of energy. These particles were discovered over a long period of time, from J.J Thomson’s discovery of the electron in 1897, to the very recent discovery of the neutrino. But there was one problem. There was no explanation of how these particles had any mass, and this was why the Higgs Boson and Higgs field were hypothesized.
It took almost 50 years for this hypothesis to turn into the proof, and 7.5 billion euros, but with the building of the hadron collider this was achieved. A simple explanation of how the LHC works is that protons are accelerated to very high speeds, nearing that of the speed of light, and then collided with each other. There is a very small chance that these colliding protons will explode with enough energy to recreate the conditions around the time of the big bang, and create some Higgs Boson particles. The Higgs Boson particles are very unstable and do not stay around for long, but we can see their remnants when the collision is analysed, and when enough of these results showed the remnants of the mysterious particle, scientists decided that it was substantial evidence to prove the Higgs Boson.
However one question still remains, why is the Higgs Boson important? How would the universe be different without it? Well imagine the universe like a celebrity party; a very prestigious and well known celebrity will be swarmed by fans, however a not so well known celebrity will be less surrounded. In the Higgs field, particles are like these celebrities and the Higgs Bosons are like their fans; the more that swarm the slower the particle now moves. By swarming, the Higgs Bosons gives particles mass. Without the Higgs Boson, all particles would just hover about in empty space, with no mass and no interaction between each other, and there would be no life whatsoever.
I think that the Higgs Boson is very important, because it is the whole cause of life and the universe around us, and it is so called the “God Particle” because of this. I think this nickname suits the idea of the Higgs field, because of its omnipotent nature, and its significant part in creation of life.
To leave on a daunting note, life as we know it could not exist without the Higgs boson, but something even more daunting is that all known particles only account for 5% of the universe. We may not ever fully understand the universe, and there is far more out there to discover, however maybe the greatest use of the Higgs, is that it lets us know were on the right lines.