Higgs Boson: a hypothetical elementary particle postulated to account for the interaction of particles of matter with the (likewise hypothetical) Higgs field.

The existence of the Higgs bosons has to do with the question of why the components of matter, and thus basically all of the physical objects in the world, have a mass in the first place. After all, some particles have no mass, such as light particles and, perhaps, neutrinos (see Puzzle). The standard model of physics explains the mass of particles in terms of the Higgs field. This energy field is of infinite extension and evenly distributed throughout the entire universe. Only through interacting with the Higgs field do elementary particles receive their masses. But how does this mechanism work?

The Angelina Field

Imagine a typical party at a physics convention. The physicists are standing together chatting in small groups evenly distributed about the room. Suddenly the door opens and Angelina Jolie enters. As she passes through the room, physicists in her vicinity assemble around her, attempting to explain to her the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. They redistribute themselves once she has passed by. In this way, an ever-changing crowd of people accompanies Angelina through the room. This dynamic cluster of people around her substantially increases Angelina's mass; accordingly, she would need much longer to stop or accelerate her passage. In other words, Angelina causes a local disturbance in the distribution of physicists and thereby increases her own mass.

In much the same way, heavy particles cause a local disturbance of the Higgs field, thereby creating a curvature in their surrounding space and generating accelerating forces as well as mutual attraction. How can we verify this theory? We cannot directly measure the Higgs field, since it must have the same force everywhere; otherwise we world have different masses in different regions of the universe. However, every field of force has exchange particles, so-called bosons, that mediate the field's interaction with other particles. The bosons of the electromagnetic field, for example, are photons (light particles). And the bosons of the Higgs field are Higgs bosons.

Now the question is how to generate and verify such Higgs bosons in order to confirm the theory of the Higgs field and to investigate the cause of particle masses more thoroughly. Unfortunately, the theory predicts that Higgs bosons are extraordinarily heavy — about two hundred times heavier than a hydrogen atom. For this reason, we would need enormous amounts of energy to generate a Higgs boson. With high probability, fissions of the Higgs boson at a mass of 125,000 MeV have been observed at the new LHC particle accelerator in 2012; at the time of this writing, the data analysis was not completely finished.


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