Scientists at CERN are trying to smash protons into each other at the highest possible velocity to just get a glimpse of this particle – even at the risk of creating a black hole and annihilating earth say critics. What is this Higg’s Boson which evokes such a great interest in the minds of modern physicists. some even labeling it The God Particle ?!
Classification of Quantum Particles
Let us start with the types of quantum particles. We basically have Fermions and Bosons.
In simple terms fermions are those particles which make up the universe that we see – they are the electrons, protons, neutrons etc which are the building blocks of the observable universe. To summarize, to a great approximation Fermions are Matter
In technical terms, Fermions are those particles where two of them cannot share the same quantum state (or cannot look same?!), ie they have to obey the Pauli’s Exclusion Principle and follow Fermi-Dirac Statistics
Bosons on the other hand are those quantum particles that influence the fermions. They cause fermions to interact with each other by carrying the fundamental forces of nature ie electromagnetic force, nuclear forces, gravitational force etc. Forces like gravity, electromagnetism and nuclear forces are actually an illusion created by these force carrying particles. To summarize, to a great approximation Bosons are Energy
In technical terms, Bosons are those quantum particles where any number of them can occupy the same quantum state (or can look similar?!). In other words they do not obey the Pauli’s Exclusion Principle nor follow Fermi-Dirac Statistics. What they obey is the Bose-Einstein Statistics.
Quantum Particles as we saw are largely categorized into Fermions and Bosons. Fermions are named after the famous Italian Physicist Enrico Fermi. Bosons are named after the famous Indian physicist Satyendranath Bose.
Max Planck, who is well-known as the Father of Quantum Mechanics had derived the radiation formula largely by guessing to fit the available empirical evidence. It was Satyendranath Bose who later derived Planck’s formula systematically by developing his own statistics of massless particles which did not obey Pauli’s Exclusion principle.
But when Bose sent his work to the scientific journals of Europe to get them published, no journals came forward to publish it because they did not understand it in the first place :)
Then Bose sent his work directly to Albert Einstein, who immediately recognized the importance of Bose’s work and used his influence to get Bose’s work published. Bose in his work also had made use of Einstein’s theory of light being made up of particles called Photons. And hence the name Bose-Einstein Statistics.
So, What is Higg’s Boson?
We know that Bosons give general matter the attributes of Force like electromagnetism, gravity etc. Now Higg’s Boson is a similar boson, except for the fact that instead of causing a force, it is responsible for one of the most fundamental aspects of matter – the Mass! Yes, Fermions (or in general the matter we see in this universe) have mass because of their interaction with Higg’s Boson.
Any particle which has mass interacts with Higg’s Boson, and those which do not have mass do not interact with Higg’s Boson, for example particles of light ie Photons are massless because they do not interact with Higg’s Boson!
But surprising is the fact that nobody has seen a Higg’s Boson today. In other words there is no experimental proof for the existence of this particle. Which is why the scientists at LHC (the Large Hadron Collider), the world’s largest and most powerful particle collider have started experiments to smash particles at nearly the speed of light with a hope that at these high energy collisions (which are similar to the collisions that happened during the Big Bang when our universe was created) they will be able to get a glimpse of this so far theoretical particle – The Higg’s Boson.
And that is also the reason why critics of these experiments are claiming that these collisions can possibly create Black Holes which can possibly grow bigger and destroy entire Earth! But that is entirely another subject for our discussion.
Coming back to Higg’s Boson, it was the physicist Peter Higgs who along with other physicists theorized the existence of this Boson which is said to give the property called Mass to other particles.
Mass is a property which particles obtain because of their interaction with Higg’s Boson. Think about it like the resistance a vehicle faces while moving against a strong wind and calling that resistance Mass. So Mass is what particles obtain when they are moving in a Higg’s field, and mind you this Higg’s field is all pervading in this Universe. Obviously particles have mass everywhere in this universe. The only difference being particles like that of light which simply do not interact with this Higg’s Field or with these Higg’s Bosons and hence which do not have mass, and probably that is the reason why light travels at the speed of light always and no other particles can reach the speed of light because they are slowed down due to their resistance (called Mass) resulting out of their interaction with Higg’s Bosons.
Why God Particle?
Mass is one of the most fundamental properties in this universe, and hence the famous Physicist Leon Lederman coined the term “The God Particle” for this Higg’s Boson which is said to give the particles in this universe their most fundamental property. Well, he was not a religious person and coined this term for fun. In fact the term comes from the title of his Book The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?
Ledernam also once joked saying, “Physics isn’t a religion. If it were, we’d have a much easier time raising money.”
So does Higg’s Boson exist after all? Well, we need to wait till either we find this particle experimentally or till some experimental evidence comes out rejecting the existence of this God Particle. But as of now, it is the only quantum particle whose existence is yet to be confirmed experimentally.