By Matin Durrani
With the world’s leading particle physicists meeting in Grenoble right now to discuss the latest results from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN and the Tevatron machine at Fermilab in the US, I couldn’t resist pointing out a great new video from Fermilab’s Don Lincoln about what the Higgs boson is all about and why it’s interesting.
Rather than launching straight into the nature of the Higgs boson, Lincoln begins quite rightly with the Higgs field – the energy field that permeates the entire universe and interacts with subatomic particles to give them their mass.
In doing so, Lincoln draws a comparison between a barracuda gliding effortlessly through water and Don’s rather rotund buddy “Eddie” who is “no stranger to doughnuts”.
The water serves the role of the Higgs field and the barracuda, “being supremely streamlined”, interacts – like a low-mass particle – only slightly with the field and can glide through it very easily. Eddie, in contrast, moves only very slowly through the water, being like a massive particle that interacts a lot with the water.
In other words, if the Higgs field didn’t exist, then neither the top quark nor the electron, for example, would have any mass at all.
To explain the Higgs boson itself, Lincoln continues his water theme – explaining how just as water is made of individual H2O molecules, so the Higgs field is made up of countless Higgs bosons.
Meanwhile, for the real news from the International Europhysics Conference on High Energy Physics in Grenoble, stay tuned to physicsworld.com, where our reporter is prowling the conference halls and lecture rooms for the latest news.
And finally, if you want more on the hunt for the Higgs, don’t forget this great article from Physics World magazine by prolific blogger and CERN particle physicist Tommaso Dorigo or our own video. It’s from March but still well worth watching.