The Higgs Boson, AKA the God Particle, Explained with Animation

in Animation, Physics | April 27th, 2012

Ever since the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) went online in 2008, physicists have been conducting experiments, hoping to finally prove or disprove the existence of The God Particle, otherwise known as the Higgs Boson. CERN (which operates the LHC) gives this basic introduction to the theorized particle:

A major breakthrough in particle physics came in the 1970s when physicists realized that there are very close ties between two of the four fundamental forces – namely, the weak force and the electromagnetic force. The two forces can be described within the same theory, which forms the basis of the Standard Model. This ‘unification’ implies that electricity, magnetism, light and some types of radioactivity are all manifestations of a single underlying force called, unsurprisingly, the electroweak force. But in order for this unification to work mathematically, it requires that the force-carrying particles have no mass. We know from experiments that this is not true, so physicists Peter Higgs, Robert Brout and François Englert came up with a solution to solve this conundrum.

They suggested that all particles had no mass just after the Big Bang. As the Universe cooled and the temperature fell below a critical value, an invisible force field called the ‘Higgs field’ was formed together with the associated ‘Higgs boson’. The field prevails throughout the cosmos: any particles that interact with it are given a mass via the Higgs boson. The more they interact, the heavier they become, whereas particles that never interact are left with no mass at all.

That quick statement sets the stage for watching the video above. Here we have Daniel Whiteson, a physics professor at UC Irvine, giving us a fuller explanation of the Higgs Boson, mercifully using animation to demystify the theory and the LHC experiments that may confirm it sooner or later. H/T Metafilter

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Comments (12)

  1. mac says . . .
    April 27, 2012 / 12:33 pm

    “the god particle” is a stupid statement…

  2. michele heidt says . . .
    April 27, 2012 / 1:50 pm

    one of the most fascinating/interesting portrayals of ‘outside my box’ thinking!

  3. John says . . .
    June 21, 2012 / 10:53 pm

    What has “god” (a pure human construction) to do with the laws of the universe ?

    This is ridiculous.

  4. mendieta says . . .
    July 2, 2012 / 9:20 pm

    just had to stand my nbook on it’s side to watch it, but GREAT VIDEO!! really interesting.

  5. Stephen Ryan says . . .
    July 3, 2012 / 1:40 am

    I am disappointed that with so many scientists requesting that people stop calling it “The God Particle” as it has nothing to do with God or religion that Open Culture actually uses the name in the title of this story.

  6. Warren Burstein says . . .
    July 3, 2012 / 2:23 am

    I agree with Stephen. What part of “Non-overlapping magisteria” was unclear?

  7. Colin says . . .
    July 3, 2012 / 10:39 am

    Thank you for including the animation!

  8. Aaron says . . .
    July 4, 2012 / 1:29 pm

    A different topic will be better instead of the ‘ God…

  9. pmody says . . .
    July 4, 2012 / 9:01 pm

    What is the software tool used to make this video?

  10. Keith says . . .
    July 7, 2012 / 7:39 am

    Well, they just HAVE to say they are near to finding it or they will all have to go home and do ordinary jobs, like helping to find a cure for cancer, or working on a checkout at Walmart

  11. Shane says . . .
    July 7, 2012 / 8:08 am

    @keith .. Do u mean find a cure for old age?? Isn’t that the same as a cure for cancer?

  12. Dan Lee says . . .
    July 8, 2012 / 11:28 am

    Thanks, this is a really cool video it’s really informative. Fields and particles as manifestations of them blow my mind!
    Is this an example of the wave/particle duality? Or similar?

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