Rule Number 1


  1. In which I explain the Higgs Boson to my girlfriend, who is a biologist not a physicist.

    • Alex Wright:
      ok, so, first I should explain what a Boson is

    • Krista:
      ok

    • coles notes version please

    • Alex Wright:

    • alright, so, a boson is a field mediating particle, like a photon

    • are you familiar with the electromagnetic field?

    • Krista:

    • yes

    • Alex Wright:

    • ok, so the photon is the boson that mediates the electromagnetic field.

    • the field, and force, doesn't exist without and is made up of photons. If you excite the field to a certain energy, photons are released.

    • and we can observe them

    • Krista:

    • yes I understand that

    • Alex Wright:

    • it's like when you slosh around a bucket of water and some of the water at the surface splashes up into a drop separate from the larger body of water

    • ok, so that's the basics of bosons

    • the Higgs boson is a very special type of boson

    • You know that atoms are essentially 98% empty space, yes?

    • Krista:

    • ok

    • Alex Wright:

    • you've got your nucleus, and the electrons are floating around about as far away as jupiter from the sun, if we're talking scale here.

    • Krista:

    • yes

    • I know that

    • Alex Wright:

    • so most of the universe is about 98% nothing

    • but this doesn't really make sense, because if it was truly empty, everything would be zooming around at the speed of light

    • einstein's general relativity tells us that the thing that keeps particles form zooming about at light speed is mass.

    • some particles don't have mass, like photons and electrons, which obviously travel at light speed.

    • Krista:

    • ok

    • Alex Wright:

    • but what creates mass?

    • 50 years ago, a smart guy named Peter Higgs suggested that that 98% of empty space wasn't empty at all, he hypothesized that this empty space was actually completely saturated with the Higgs Field

    • the Higgs field acts like a quantum molasses which slows down these particles as they travel through space.

    • Krista:

    • ooo cool

    • Alex Wright:

    • so, he proposed this 50 years ago, and described the phenomenon with mathematics, and it made sense

    • but the problem was, the Higgs field has such high energy, and because of Einstein's E=mc^2 equation, such high mass properties, it takes an immense amount of energy to excite the field enough to observe the particle

    • and then they did

    • Krista:

    • ohhh

    • Ok. wow I actually get it.

    • a few seconds ago

    • Alex Wright:

    • Yay

    • Krista:

    • you should post that explanation.

    • because every other one makes no sense.