What is Higgs Boson?

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Nobel prize-winning British physicist Peter Higgs, who proposed the existence of a mass-giving particle, which became known as the Higgs boson or the "God particle", has died aged 94.

About Higgs Boson

  • The Higgs boson is the fundamental force-carrying particle of the Higgs field, which is responsible for granting fundamental particles their mass.
  • This field was first proposed in the mid-sixties by Peter Higgs, for whom the particle is named.
  • The particle was finally discovered on July 4, 2012, by researchers at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the most powerful particle accelerator in the world, located at the European particle physics laboratory CERN, Switzerland.
  • The LHC confirmed the existence of the Higgs field and the mechanism that gives rise to mass and thus completed the standard model of particle physics.
  • It is one of the 17 elementary particles that make up the Standard Model of particle physics, which is scientists' best theory about the behaviors of the universe's most basic building blocks.
  • Higgs boson plays such a fundamental role in subatomic physics that it is sometimes referred to as the "God particle."
  • Features:
    • The Higgs boson has a mass of 125 billion electron volts, meaning it is 130 times more massive than a proton.
    • It is also chargeless with zero spin, a quantum mechanical equivalent to angular momentum. 
    • It is the only elementary particle with no spin.
  • What is a Boson?
    • A boson is a "force carrier" particle that comes into play when particles interact with each other, with a boson exchanged during this interaction. For example, when two electrons interact, they exchange a photon, the force-carrying particle of electromagnetic fields.
    • Because quantum field theory describes the microscopic world and the quantum fields that fill the universe with wave mechanics, a boson can also be described as a wave in a field. 
    • So, a photon is a particle and a wave that arises from an excited electromagnetic field, and the Higgs boson is the particle or "quantized manifestation" that arises from the Higgs field when excited.
  • That field generates mass via its interaction with other particles, and the mechanism carried by the Higgs boson called the Brout-Englert-Higgs mechanism.
  • Particles that interact — or "couple" — with the Higgs field more strongly are granted greater masses.
  • Even the Higgs boson itself gets its massfrom its own interaction with the Higgs field.
  • One particle not granted massby the Higgs fieldis the basic particle of light, the photon. This is because spontaneous symmetry breaking doesn't happen for photons as it does for its fellow force-carrying particles.

This mass-granting phenomenon also only applies to fundamental particles like electrons and quarks. Particles like protons, made up of quarks, get most of their mass from the binding energy that holds their constituents together.

Q1: What are Quarks?

A quark is one of the fundamental particles in physics. They join to form hadrons, such as protons and neutrons, which are components of the nuclei of atoms. The study of quarks and the interactions between them through the strong force is called particle physics.

Source: Physicist Peter Higgs, Who Discovered 'God Particle', Dies At 94