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

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 (11)
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  • michele heidt says:

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

  • John says:

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

    This is ridicu­lous.

  • mendieta says:

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

  • Stephen Ryan says:

    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.

  • Warren Burstein says:

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

  • Colin says:

    Thank you for includ­ing the ani­ma­tion!

  • Aaron says:

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

  • pmody says:

    What is the soft­ware tool used to make this video?

  • Keith says:

    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

  • Shane says:

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

  • Dan Lee says:

    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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