The Higgs Bump

The Higgs Bump
The Higgs Bump

The discovery that enthralled physicists around the world on July 4 is summarized in the "Bump of Destiny" revealed in the graph above. The bump occurs at or near 125 billion electron-volts (eV). That was the predicted mass for the so-called "God particle." (At the subatomic level, matter and energy are interchangeable and are expressed in the same quantity of electron-volts.)

As Garance Franke-Ruta explains in her highly viewed explanation posted on RCE last week, bosons are "non-material particles" that can occupy the same space at the same time, unlike the more familiar protons, neutrons and electrons.  The universe is posited to be filled with a field made up of Higgs particles that is not unlike the old "ether" that was supposed to occupy empty space and transmit waves of light and other forms of electromagnetic energy. The universal Higgs field is not passive, however, but a teeming mass of bosons that occasionally transmute into other forms of matter/energy.  Interaction with this Higgs field is what gives the material particles their mass. 

It was the decay of one of these Higgs particles into two high-energy gamma rays that is being measured in the CERN Large Hadron Collider.  The mass/energy of the debris provides a measure of the original particle. The theory predicted that the mass/energy of the Higgs would be around 125 billion eV and that's exactly where it was revealed to be last week.  And that's s the reason physicists all around the world were smiling.

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