Monday, July 2, 2012

Scientists May Announce Higgs Boson Discovery Today

What you'll need to know at the water cooler:

What is it?
A fundamental particle, in the same group as gluons (they hold together the quarks that make up protons and neutrons), gauge Bosons (they stick the protons and neutrons together), and the hypothetical graviton (which would be the reason gravity affects matter).

Why does it matter? The Higgs is modeled to be the thing which lends matter its mass, thus kind of getting everything else to gel together. Really, everything. And since the Standard Model works for pretty much everything else, not having the Higgs kind of ruins science. And the universe. We- we really kind of need this thing to work.

How does it do that thing it does? Apparently, and this is science, there is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us, binds the galaxy together. Yes, I just quoted Star Wars. That's how awesome this is. Within the fabric of space is an all-permeating energy field, and the Higgs boson interacts with it in such a way that any particle acquires a modicum of mass. Because of gluons and the other bosons these masses are bound together, and because of the graviton they fall towards each other even over vast distances.

So science is complete now, right? No such luck. In fact, this announcement will probably only confirm the existence of a suspected Higgs particle around an expected mass range to within 99.99% certainty. So about a thousand times less certain than anything accepted as sure enough to go in a textbook. Then of course we have to figure out why gravity is so weak, what powers dark energy, and why every quantum is so full of solace for Daniel Craig.

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