Today the Nobel prize for Physics 2013 was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs. You might remember Higgs…yeah that Higgs Boson or God* particle guy. So the prize is awarded for their theoretical discovery that explains how mass is originated. They proposed for the first time in 1964 that a Boson (later called as Higgs Boson) was responsible for the mass of the particles inside the atom. Those sub-atomic particles indeed give the mass to atoms, and after that you know how to build the story. Atoms give mass to everything we know, you, me and all the objects around us. Therefore it was very important in the first place to understand how the mass enters in and around us. This is a very fundamental question, since Englert and Higgs answered it for us; they were awarded the greatest prize of Physics. Don’t forget though the contribution of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that generated all the interest of common people around this God* particle by confirming the existence of Higgs Boson on 14th March 2013.
I listed below some interesting facts about Higgs Boson
1) Higgs boson is the missing piece in the puzzle of standard model to prove that standard model indeed correct.
2) Why standard model is important? Although there are many other theories to explain the origin of world around us, standard model is widely accepted theory but it is also incomplete and, in fact, internally inconsistent.
3) According to standard model theory, the Higgs particle is a Boson with no spin no electric and colour charge. It is very unstable and it decays in to other sub-atomic particles immediately.
4) LHC not yet confirmed all the properties of Higgs Boson that were predicted by standard model, but it confirmed the most important properties such as + parity and zero spin.
5) What’s the impact of this discovery?
Good question, world will not change just now..so relax. We cannot predict the impact of fundamental discoveries immediately. When quantum mechanics was proposed even their discoverers described it as an “interesting laboratory experiment” with “no useful purpose” whatsoever. But now we have its applications in computers, mobiles, satnav and many others.
6) At least any immediate side benefits?
You know World Wide Web was created by physicists working in global collaborations on particle experiments at CERN to share their results, and the results of massive amounts of data produced by the LHC
Similarly cloud computing was created by them as it was difficult to analyse 300 trillions of proton–proton collisions that amount to 25 petabytes (1000 petabytes) of data per year as at 2012. Now we all use www and some cloud computing service.
So keep your fingers crossed and wait for new discoveries out of Higgs Boson. First congratulate our Nobel Prize winners Englert and Higgs and remember remaining four physicists who contributed to the theory and many others who worked on alternative models. Every small contribution counts in science.
*Finally don’t call Higgs Boson as God particle. It is nothing to do with God. It is a name given by media.
The six authors of the 1964 PRL papers, who received the 2010 J. J. Sakurai Prize for their work. From left to right: Kibble, Guralnik, Hagen, Englert, Brout. Right: Higgs.
(Most parts of the information for this post is collected from Wikipedia)