Demystifying the Higgs Boson with Leonard Susskind, the Father of String Theory

In ear­ly July, researchers work­ing at CERN in Europe announced they had found it — the Hig­gs Boson. Final­ly, we had proof of a the­o­ry first for­mu­lat­ed in 1964. It was a big day. Physi­cists every­where rejoiced. The media did too. But the media cov­er­age did­n’t help the pub­lic under­stand the dis­cov­ery very well. Leonard Susskind, a promi­nent the­o­ret­i­cal physi­cist at Stan­ford, real­ized that. So, days lat­er, he gave a free pub­lic lec­ture where he explained how the Hig­gs mech­a­nism works and what it actu­al­ly means to “give mass to par­ti­cles.” And it all involved tak­ing his audi­ence through some basic quan­tum mechan­ics and explain­ing the con­cept of fields, plus using a handy-dandy som­brero for a prop. You can watch the full pre­sen­ta­tion above.

When not teach­ing under­grads and grad stu­dents, Susskind teach­es in Stan­ford’s Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies pro­gram where he intro­duces life­long learn­ers to the heady world of physics. Most notably, Susskind has offered a six-quar­ter sequence of cours­es called “Mod­ern Physics: The The­o­ret­i­cal Min­i­mum.” It’s aimed at a gen­er­al audi­ence of life­long learn­ers (like you), and it pro­vides stu­dents with a base­line knowl­edge for think­ing intel­li­gent­ly about mod­ern physics. Hap­pi­ly, the com­plete lec­ture series is avail­able online. You can find the video lec­tures right below, or find more intro­duc­to­ry cours­es in the Physics sec­tion of our big col­lec­tion of Free Online Cours­es.

Mod­ern Physics: The The­o­ret­i­cal Min­i­mum

  • Mod­ern The­o­ret­i­cal Physics: Clas­sic Mechan­ics (Video) – iTunes –YouTube
  • Mod­ern The­o­ret­i­cal Physics: Quan­tum Mechan­ics (Video) –iTunes – YouTube
  • Mod­ern The­o­ret­i­cal Physics: Spe­cial Rel­a­tiv­i­ty (Video) – iTunes –YouTube
  • Mod­ern The­o­ret­i­cal Physics: Ein­stein (Video) – iTunes –YouTube
  • Mod­ern The­o­ret­i­cal Physics: Cos­mol­o­gy (Video) iTunes –YouTube
  • Mod­ern The­o­ret­i­cal Physics: Sta­tis­ti­cal Mechan­ics (Video) –iTunes – YouTube

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