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Video:What is the Higgs Boson?

with James Lincoln

The Higgs boson is a recently discovered particle that carries a great deal of importance in particle physics. This video from About.com will explain the meaning of the Higgs boson.See Transcript

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Transcript:What is the Higgs Boson?

My name is James Lincoln. I'm a physics teacher, here for About.com.

Background of the Higgs Boson

The Higgs boson is a well-described particle with a specific mass and behavior. It's named after Peter Higgs, a British physicist, although other people have theorized its existence, too. And it's the last particle member of the standard model of particle physics.

A boson is a particle that gives forces to other particles, or it pushes or pulls on them. For example, the Higgs Boson is supposed to pull on the W and Z bosons, which are also theoretical particles. But their existence is well-supported by experiment. The Higgs particle is not like an electron, which you can get an electron stuck on a drop of oil and make specific measurements on it.  

Higgs Boson is Difficult to Detect

The problem with the Higgs boson which makes it so difficult to detect is that it only lasts for 10 to the -22 seconds, too short to be measured in any reasonable way. Therefore, we need to measure its decay components or the other particles that it will break into, after it radioactively decays.  

Higgs Boson is a Neutral Particle

The Higgs boson is also supposed to be a neutral particle, like a photon, which is a particle which exchanges forces between electrons. In fact, the particle of light, the photon, is a good example of another neutral boson. Imagine two electrons traveling toward each other. They would be repelled because same charges repel. And the mediator that repels them is called the photon, or a particle of light. The photon is a boson; it does exactly what they are supposed to do: it repels or pushes away as a force. That's the idea, that forces are mediated by particles. I prefer the term mediator to either force or particle, because I feel that's exactly what we're talking about.  

Higgs Boson Gives Mass to Particles

Now, there are other bosons such as the W and Z bosons. These are the ones that cause radioactivity. And the mechanism that they get their mass from, being massive bosons, is that the Higgs boson couples to them. It's a coupler that gives other particles their mass. That's the whole idea with the Higgs boson.

The Higgs mechanism is the first time we have a theoretical model that seems to work of a particle that gives mass to other particles. Because it is responsible for attaching mass to particles, some people have called it "the God particle." Now we seem to have found compelling evidence for the Higgs boson or at least a particle that's like it. So we can call this the God-like particle.  

I'm James Lincoln for About.com. Thanks for watching.

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