What is the Higgs Boson?

3 September 2012

On 4 July 2012, scientists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) facility in Geneva announced the discovery of a new elementary particle they believe is consistent with the long-sought Higgs boson, or ‘god particle’. Our understanding of the fundamental nature of matter — everything in our visible universe and everything we are — is about to take a giant leap forward. So, what is the Higgs boson and why is it so important? What role does it play in the structure of material substance? We’re celebrating the release of Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the ‘God Particle’ with a series of posts by science writer Jim Baggott over the next week to explain some of the mysteries of the Higgs.

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The Big Higgs Question, by Steven Weinberg

9 July 2012

The following is part of an introduction to James Baggott’s new book Higgs: The Invention and Discovery of the “God Particle,” which will be published in August by Oxford University Press. Baggott wrote his book anticipating the recent announcement of the discovery at CERN near Geneva—with some corroboration from Fermilab—of a new particle that seems to be the long-sought Higgs particle. Much further research on its exact identity is to come.

View Article on New York Review of Books

2012: The Year the Higgs Boson is Discovered

9 January 2012

The new year is a time for bold and often foolhardy predictions. Certainly, most of us will take the prophesy of impending doom on 21 December, 2012 with a large pinch of salt. This date may represent the end of a 5,125-year cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, but it doesn’t necessarily signal the end of all things (not even in Mayan history, contrary to popular belief). I think that when the time comes, we can plan for Christmas 2012 with a reasonably clear conscience.

But, despite the obvious pitfalls, I am prepared to stick my neck out and make a prediction. I predict that this will be the year that the Higgs boson is discovered.

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Little Atoms: The Quantum Story

17 June 2011

Jim Baggott has been studying and writing about the history of physics for nearly 20 years.

Jim’s latest book is The Quantum Story: A History in 40 Moments.

His previous books have been widely acclaimed and include A Beginner’s Guide to RealityBeyond Measure: Modern Physics, Philosophy and the Meaning of Quantum Theory, and Atomic: The First War of Physics and the Secret History of the Atom Bomb, 1939–1949.

View on Little Atoms Website

If a Tree Falls in the Forest…

14 February 2011

If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s nobody around to hear, does it make a sound?

For centuries philosophers have been teasing our intellects with such questions. Of course, the answer depends on how we choose to interpret the use of the word ‘sound’. If by sound we mean compressions and rarefactions in the air which result from the physical disturbances caused by the falling tree and which propagate through the air with audio frequencies, then we might not hesitate to answer in the affirmative.

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