In case you aren’t a particle physics major let me break it down for you: for years, scientists have operated under the standard model for physics which was developed in the 1970s. It states that everything in the universe, you and me, this newspaper, are made of one or more of 12 particles. These 12 are bunched into two oddly-named groups called quarks and leptons. If I haven’t lost you already, physicists also predict that each of the four forces of the universe (gravity, electronegativity, strong, and weak) each have an infinitely small particle associated with them called bosons. But why is all of this important?
Scientists at CERN, or the European Organization for Nuclear Research, that are working with the Hadron Super Collider say they may have found a particle smaller than all of these other particles. This new particle composes the entirety of the universe as we know it! They call it the Higgs Boson or the “God Particle.”
Bosons are the particles that supposedly exert the force of gravity on us. Imagine trillions and trillions of tiny ping pong balls hitting you and pushing you closer to earth. These are hypothesized particles of energy. Yet, the Higgs Boson is supposed to transfer something else—matter itself. If this is true that means that there are billions of sub-lepton and sub-quark particles phasing in and out of space all around us. Thus far, according to CERN, there have been no experiments to reject this hypothesis.
In a CERN accelerated science article it was stated “The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is,” says CMS spokesperson Joe Incandela.
With the discovery of these infinitely small Higgs particles, scientists may have just revolutionized everything we thought we knew about matter. What does this mean for us? Well, if this hypothesis is proven, it could mean that you may be seeing more than just 12 particles in your next physics book. It could also mean that you will be learning things next year in class that completely overshadow what your professor taught you last quarter.
This discovery can bring into perspective for UWT students how truly ever changing the realm of science is and how we are always learning. These new findings may even have our own professors scratching their heads on how to explain these radical new findings in the years to come.