Visualizing the Higgs Boson Particle

by Myya McGregory

Large Hadron Collider at CERN

If you follow science news you probably already know about the discovery of the Higgs boson particle. Having eluded scientists for years the so called “God particle” was detected in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Unfortunately those who need to see it to believe it might be a little disappointed. Most heavy particles live fast and die young. The Higgs boson is no exception. It’s mass is between 115 and 158 GeV and it’s half life is less than a billionth of a second. Much like the famous yet elusive designer, Martin Margiela, the Higgs boson doesn’t want its picture taken.

Known as the God particle because its field is believed to give mass to every other particle before it decays, the Higgs boson is in fact omnipresent. We just can’t see it.

So how do we visualize the Higgs boson particle?

The short answer is: we don’t.

We do however see the effects of its energy and we can watch it decay. The Large Hadron Collider is basically a giant particle accelerator. When the particles hurdle towards each other and collide, they release energy and decay into lesser particles upon impact. As explained in CERN’s animation of their experiment, they hope to excite the Higgs field through the collision of two protons. At that time the Higgs boson will be present, but it will quickly decay into other standard model particles.

If you want a GLIMPSE of the experiment click through these pictures to see particles collide, and read more on CERN’s website here.

 

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