Friday, July 6, 2012

Joy of scientific discovery - the Higgs boson

How would you tell a complicated story like this one? On Wednesday a Reuters article opened by stating:

“Scientists at Europe’s CERN research center have found a new subatomic particle, a basic building block of the universe, which appears to be the boson imagined and named a half a century ago by theoretical physicist Peter Higgs.”

It continued by describing how two different teams at their Large Hadron Collider (LHC) using detectors called CMS and Atlas both found strong signals indicating there was a heavy, but previously unknown particle.

Over at his Bad Astronomy blog Phil Plait did a better job of summarizing the implications by saying:

“...,The Higgs particle is extremely important, because the Standard Model of particle physics - the basic idea of how all particles behave - predicts it exists and  is what (indirectly) gives many other particles mass.”

I think the best description of what now has happened comes from a  line in the chorus to a  five-minute 2008 video called the Large Hadron Rap:

“The LHC accelerates the protons and the lead,
and the things that it discovers will rock you in the head.”

That’s a difficult way to tell a story, but it works.

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