Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Best Analogy for the 'God Particle'

Last year there had been great excitement within the circles of theoretical physicists as well as particle physicists concerning the possibility that the  Large Hadron Collider, the world's biggest and most powerful particle accelerator, might have given scientists enough data to clinch the formal discovery of something called the Higgs Boson particle, otherwise known as the god particle (I always get goosebumps when I say that). Recent reviews performed on the data collected so far seem to indicate without a doubt that the god particle is real.

Although this is being described as probably the most sensational discovery yet in modern physics, many of us mere mortals are still unable to understand what's gotten the physics nerds at CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) all pumped up with excitement. I'm sure if it weren't for the albeit scary nickname we wouldn't be talking much about this particle in popular channels. Here's a quick summary about it:

Simply put, the god particle is so named because it is theorized that all the particles in this universe that have mass (like the protons and neutrons in atomic nuclei) all owe their massive existence to this one particle when the universe formed in a hot big bang almost 14 billion years ago. It was first theorised by a man named Peter Higgs in 1964 as part of a solution for the standard model of the universe but we needed something like the Large Hadron Collider to observe this particle in the flesh.

As important as it is however, one can't seem to find a good explanation out there about how on earth can one measly particle do all that it is theorised to do. This recent video from TEDEd provides the best analogy that I have seen yet that tries to do that in simple, layman's terms. Enjoy!