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Friday, 4 May 2012
higgs boson explained
the higgs boson explained from phd comics on vimeo.
via irtiqa in summary ......
- to make up everyday matter you only need an electron, an up quark and a down quark
- with the up and down quarks you can make a proton or a neutron
- electrons, protons and neutrons you can make any atom
- you only need these 3
- but they've discovered 12 particles
- why do we have them?
- how many are there 100, 1m, 12? - we don't know
- you can organise it like a periodic table - you can organise by characteristics - how they behave
- but why? because of a fundamental underlying structure
- we know its electron orbitals around nucleus
- so we have a periodic table of fundamental particles - and there are patterns that suggest there must be some sort of underlying structure we don't understand or have't seen yet
- there are 6 quarks - up, down (these interact with each other) charm, strange (these interact with each other) top, bottom (these interact with each other)
- and leptons - electron, muon, tau, electron neutrino, muon neutrino, tau neutrino - electron pairs with electron neutrino and so on
- are there more particles? what is the source of the patterns? - we're trying to figure out clues by seeing what other kind of particles exist
- the magic of a collider is you can make kinds of matter you don't have around - you take 2 kinds of particle and annihilate them - what comes out doesn't have to be a re-arrangement of what went in
- it like a quantum magic where it disappears into pure energy
- so you can make any sort of particle for which you have enough energy
- so every time you crank up the energy you could be exploring a new regime
- one of the things people predict is the higgs boson - the particle that is responsible for giving mass to other particles (mass isn't stuff - its probably a characteristic of a particle like charge)
- some particles have, some don't
- think of mass as gravitational charge - when two particles have this charge they attract each other (interestingly you can have negative mass)
- so the higgs theory is - imagine a field that permeates the whole universe - and every particle feels this field and is affected by it in different ways - some are slowed down by it (large mass) others hardly feel it (small mass)
- so why do particles feel the higgs field differently?
- all kinds of reactions could make a higgs boson - but we can't see these reactions
- all we can see is the decay products from them
- so collision happens - build up data on how many collision happen for different energy levels
- predicted effect of higgs boson is tiny - so detecting difference between assuming it does of doesn't exist is hard - so need a huge amount of data - so run the collider all day all year - so data from the 40m collisions a second