You’re here because you don’t know what the Higgs boson is. It’s good that you admit that, because it makes you better than other stupid people, like me. This is a guide written by the simple, for the simple, and it should be, therefore, rather simple.
Let’s get started.
Firstly, modern day physicists are, for the most part, split into three groups that each study a different aspect of physics. The first group studies the really fucking big. The big shit includes planets, solar systems, stars, galaxies, and the like. Contrary to popular belief, this field of study doesn’t include your mother. Your mother is normal sized, but she doesn’t need to be fat to be a disgusting whore. The second group studies the really fucking small. They focus on the particles the make up the particles that make up atoms. No, I will not make a small dick joke. Your penis could be any size between the sun and a quark and you would still be the only person ever to see and touch it.
The third group studies how best to worship Neil deGrasse Tyson. These are the autistic Redditors who run the Church of Tyson, make memes of him, and prepare the living sacrifices for He Who Warns of the Badasses.
We’re going to focus on the second field of study, the really fucking small. The goddamn subatomic. According to something called the Standard Model, there are 12 elementary particles that make up the universe (6 different quarks and 6 different leptons), and 4 forces which unite and control them. The protons and neutrons you didn’t learn about in high school are made up of these smaller particles.
The 12 particles and 4 forces are separated into two main groups: fermions and bosons. Bosons have no mass and carry force, and fermions have mass and cannot occupy the same exact quantum state as each other. Meaning they just can’t be in the same place at the same time. For what we’re doing (what I’m doing, I’m writing the damn thing) we’ll be focusing on bosons.
The Standard Model is actually a pretty ballsy misnomer. It’s the most widely accepted explanation for the universe so far, but not anywhere near the only one. So it’s not standard. And it’s incomplete and imperfect, so it can’t be a model. Some pocket protected shit just decided it was good enough for now.
The Standard Model, like any other model, just wants to look the nicest. Most physicists want to fuck the Standard Model, so they do everything to make her look the best she can. Make-up, plastic surgery, lynching string-theorists, push-up bras, and the Higgs boson.
“But what the fuck is the Higgs boson?” You collectively demand Google.
It’s a particle. It’s one tiny, stupid, inconsequential particle. It exists for a trillionth of a second, and then it’s gone forever. This post has more impact on the world. That’s because no one actually cares about the particle itself. The reason the particle is important is because it signals that something called the Higgs field exists.
The Higgs field gives particles mass. That’s all you really need to know. Those six words. And I could have gotten to that sooner if it weren’t for my over inflated sense of self-importance. If you want to sound like a real asshole, correct your friends and tell them it only gives certain particles mass (the electron, for example). It should be pointed out that it is not the answer to the universe, it is not the end of science, and it’s not the God particle. If you hear anyone call it the God particle, bring your hand back to fake him/her out, then give the moron a swift kick to the twat. And if you hear an atheist say “God particle”, the laws of science say you can kill their family.
There is no one “God” particle. That’s the point everyone misses. Firstly, as I just said, the boson doesn’t do anything but let you know the field is there. It’s the field that does all the work. And secondly, the cool thing about the universe is that on a physical level, there are a bunch of different particles and forces that need each other to exist, and which all work together to form one working and stable existence. There is no one force that brings everything together. There is no one God particle. It’s all bits and pieces that come together to form something more. It’s quite the argument for a kind of neo-polytheism, but unlike the Greek gods, I’ve never seen a lepton change into a swan and rape women.
It’s not what the field does. Giving particles mass is fine, but it’s actually the way they found the particle is what’s really remarkable. Along the Swiss-French border lies the Large Hadron Collider. It’s a 3 billion euro tube that recreates some of what would have happened right after the Big Bang. I refer of course to what started the universe, not the TV show “The Big Bang Theory”. After an episode of “The Big Bang Theory”, you can normally find people reduced to tears with a gun in their mouth. After the actual Big Bang, all the particles that make up our universe flew out all at once and began interacting with each other. It is at this moment that the Higgs field began to give some particles mass.
The idea is that by recreating these events, we can see all these particles. Obviously, the Higgs boson is one of them. The way they recreate these events however, is absolutely fucked. The collider is essentially a gigantic donut. Scientists send one beam of protons one way, and another beam of protons the opposite way, and smash them together. Particles fly out everywhere, and they just hope that one of them will be the Higgs.
That’s right. They look for particles the same way people in Alabama raise their kids. By hitting them. The chances that the Higgs boson would fly out are downright infinitesimal. Think chances of finding a shiny Pokemon. Smaller than that. The real miracle isn’t that the Higgs exists. It’s that the method (which is the equivalent of smacking your TV when it’s broken) actually worked.
Well, it sort of worked. In order to make sure it’s the particle they’re looking for and not just background noise or a statistical fuck up, the particle needs to reach a threshold of “5 sigma”, which is essentially a measurement of how likely it is that the thing exists.
This particle got… 4.9 sigma.
Let’s just recap. Scientists smash protons together and hope something comes out for only a trillionth of a second, and when it does, it actually doesn’t.
It might be the Higgs boson. It might not be. It exhibits Higgs boson like properties, so we can only hope that more research will yield an answer. Although, I’d love for someone more knowledgeable than myself to explain just how they expect to find the damn thing again.
Important things to remember:
- The Higgs field gives some particles mass.
- Just some particles.
- The Higgs boson is a ripple in that field.
- The particle they found may or may not be the Higgs boson. No one knows.
- It was still really fucking hard to find.
- You would think one of these guys could make the process more efficient.
- You’d think it would be they’re first priority.
- Having this information makes you smarter and better than other people.
- Your mother is still a filthy cooze.