The God Particle

 

Putting the Bang in the Big Bang Theory

Brian Greene Professor of Physics and Mathematics, Columbia University; Author, The...
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Physicist Brian Greene explains the Higgs boson particle, also known as the "God Particle," and why you should care about it. This energetic and delightful talk will make you wish your high school physics teacher taught like this. Greene says the feat of finding such a particle is akin to "trying to hear a tiny, delicate whisper over the massive thundering, deafening din of a NASCAR race."

Greene gave this talk in 2012 just days before CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) confirmed the theory of the Higgs boson using the Large Hadron Collider. The following year, the Nobel prize in physics was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter Higgs “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles.”

Space is sticky like molasses
Space is sticky like molasses
How are scientists looking for this invisible, molasses-like field?
What’s the point of finding and confirming the Higgs particle?
Why should we care about something so specific to theoretical physics?
1.

Space is sticky like molasses

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04:29

Around 1970, Peter Higgs imagines that all of space is uniformly filled with an invisible substance that’s sort of like molasses. When a particle, like an electron, tries to move through this molasses, the resistance it encounters is what we interpret as the mass of the particle.  In fact, the idea is that different particles would have different degrees of stickiness which means they would experience a different amount of resistance as they try to borrow through this pervasive molasses. Higgs’s theory, if proven, would rewrite the very meaning of nothingness because the field, or molasses, is essentially an unremoveable occupant of space.

2.

How are scientists looking for this invisible, molasses-like field?

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07:38

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, in Geneva, is about 18 miles around. Protons are sent cycling around the collider in opposite directions, near the speed of light, so fast that they can traverse that 18-mile race track more than 11,000 times each second. And these particles engage in head-on collisions. It’s a monumental challenge to carry out this procedure. “It’s like trying to hear a tiny, delicate whisper over the thundering, deafening din of a NASCAR race,” says Greene.

The total cost of finding the Higgs boson ran about $13.25 billion.
3.

What’s the point of finding and confirming the Higgs particle?

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16:20

Fundamental discovery can have a profound impact on the way we live our lives, but we must wait for theoretical discoveries to turn into practical applications. Confirming the existence of the Higgs particle in 2012 substantiated 30 years of theoretical science. In short, the Higgs discovery put the bang in the Big Bang Theory.

Quantum physics allowed us to be able to manipulate electronics through tiny wires giving rise to personal computers, cell phones, and medical technology that saves lives around the world.
4.

Why should we care about something so specific to theoretical physics?

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17:55

Greene goes on to give his personal reasons for pursuing science and discovery:

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