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ARCHIVED - What is the Higgs boson?

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The Higgs boson is a hypothetical subatomic particle. Finding the Higgs boson, if it exists at all, will answer fundamental questions about how other subatomic particles acquire their mass.

The Higgs theory was proposed in 1964 by Peter Higgs of Edinburgh University to explain why particles differ so dramatically in mass and energy.

According to the theory, all particles had no mass just after the Big Bang. But as the universe cooled, an invisible force field that permeates all of space (now called the Higgs field) and the associated “Higgs boson” were created. As particles move through space they would pass through this field. Particles that interact with the field would acquire what appears to be mass via the Higgs boson. To some particles, the Higgs field would be like heavy oil through which they move sluggishly, making them heavy. To others, the Higgs is like water and to some, such as photons (particles of light with no mass), the Higgs field would be unfelt and invisible.

The Standard Model of particle physics predicts that CERN’s proton blaster should find the Higgs boson. However, scientists do not know the mass of the Higgs boson, which will make it harder to detect. If the Higgs boson is not found, scientists will need to consider new theories to explain particle mass. end

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ISSN 1927-0275 = Dimensions (Ottawa. Online)