Gregor Cuzak

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Higgs is a funny boson.

Kind of funny.

First things first. Matter is made of atoms. Atoms are made of particles. Particles are either fermions or bosons. Period.

A fermion is a particle obeying the Pauli principle, alas, only one particle per one quantum state. A boson is a particle disobeying the Pauli principle, alas, two or three or 7 million particles per one quantum state.

A quantum state is a sort of an address by which one can identify this state. Imagine a room. Say 213. The room is in a floor. Say 4th. The room is part of a hotel. Say Majestic. The hotel has an address. Say 17, Park lane major. And so on. Guess how many fermionic guests can stay in that one room!

Now Higgs is a boson. Bosonic particles are special not only because they can cram by the hundreds and thousands into a single hotel room, but also because they also represent the forces between particles. One such force is electromagnetic force. Two electrons repel each other. In the particle model the repelling occurs via exchange of a boson, in this case a very commonly known boson, a photon. Yes, a photon of light is the very carrier of the electromagnetic force. As such a photon is the holder of the relationship between the electrons.

By the very same pattern one has bosonic particles representing other forces. These forces are, again, types of relationships between particles. Modern physics currently acknowledges four fundamental forces. I say currently because history showed us that we are not really good at counting.

Herein steps the Standard model of particles. Just like the periodic table of elements developed by Mendeleyev, so the Standard model of particles tries to systemise all known particles. And not just that, it unifies three of the four fundamental forces.

The last missing brick in the Standard model of particles is the Higgs boson. If the discovery of this last particle is proven beyond reasonable doubt, then the model will be complete. Yesterday the CERN Atlas and CMS groups announced that they are at the very doorstep of Higgs’s room, they are just not yet sure whether he’s actually in the room.

To make things a bit easier for putting into context let me briefly list a few of Higg’s already found siblings. I mentioned the photon, and I’m adding in no particular order and especially not in a semantically proper fashion: proton, neutron, neutrions, electrons, pions, tauons, and others. To make things even more sexy let me add some more: antiprotons, positrons, antipions, and so forth. Ah, you see. Some particles come with anti- added in front. Also, you must know this from school, some have negative and other positive charges. Even more, some have spins, charms, colours, etc. All of these are just the hotel-room-like properties. The Standard model is nothing more and nothing less than just a system of putting all of these properties in some kind of order.

One property of probably biggest interest is the mass. Mass is a kind of relationship between particles. As mentioned a few paragraphs earlier a relationship in particle physics is carried by a boson. Mass in the Standard model is carried by the Higgs boson.

To clearify mass, mass is nothing other than the mass most people complain about in the morning when they weigh themselves on their scales. Kilograms, pounds, libras, stones or whatever one uses, your weight could weigh less, right? Except with the anorexic and a few other miserables, of course. The mass is also a measure of resistance to acceleration. Once a force is applied to a body of mass, acceleration occurs. The acceleration is the ratio between the force and the mass, or F=m.a, according to our famous old friend Newton.

Now Higgs boson somehow promises that when I apply a force, say a photon emitted from one electron to another one, Higgs is the one deciding how much of a kick the electrons get. Or any kick between any masses of matter, for that matter.

Funny. Right?

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Predavanje o Higgsovem bozonu | Gregor Cuzak

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