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Higgs Boson discovery implications in layman terms

The discovery of the Higgs Boson by CERN can be termed as one of the most significant discoveries of mankind. The elusive particle has cost millions of dollars in research money and was carried out using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Europe.

Since its discovery, there has been a lot of talk on the Internet on what this discovery could mean for mankind and how you and I stand to be affected by it.

I have no PhD in Physics but I have had a great interest in particle Physics as a hobby. I have also received very many queries from friends on what the Higgs Boson is all about and what its implications are. I will explain in as few words as I possibly can.

When the electron was discovered in 1897, No one imagined then what the electron would do, or how it would change humanity. But it led to the proliferation of electricity, which changed everything about life on Earth. This is where we stand as far as the discovery of the Higgs Boson is concerned. We are at the threshold of new unimaginable things once thought impossible.

In Layman terms, the Higgs Boson is what is responsible for mass of objects, the same way photons are responsible for light, or gravity responsible for acceleration and weight. The discovery of the Higgs Boson means that scientists can now get to know how objects acquire mass. This gives room for scientists to tinker with mass of objects. Who knows? it will be possible in future to build near mass-less aircraft (hence more fuel-efficient), or bridges that are light but have the same strength, or buildings that are made out of concrete that has the same properties of heat retention, strength but are safe during earth quakes because they are nearly mass-less and a concrete slab falling on you would leave you unscathed. The possibilities are infinite.

We have been taught in school to believe that the mass of an object cannot be changed, this might soon be history if scientists get a way to tinker with the Higgs Boson effect on an atom. Science is about discovery and change, same way we were taught in school that:

  1. There are nine planets while pluto was recently downgraded from being a planet.
  2. There are three states of matter, we now know there are four states.
  3. That there is no square root of a negative number yet without the square root of negative 1, we would not have three-phase electricity
  4. There were only 5 kingdoms in biology namely Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista and Monera, there are now six since 1999 (sixth being Archaea)
  5. That the periodic table of elements had all the elements in the world, well, there has been at least a new element added every other year, With Flerovium and Livermorium added to slot 114 and 116, respectively in May 2012

This just goes to show that science is evolving, and what we know today might not be true tomorrow.

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  1. Georg
    July 9, 2012 at 9:40 am | #1

    Good stuff! :)

  2. July 9, 2012 at 10:45 am | #3

    As it is now, the standard model (which s now complete thanks to the all-important discovery) has no practical use, it is just a way for us to understand the fabric of the universe. The proponent of the Higgs field and the particle affected by the same, the Higgs boson, Peter Higgs has said that he has no idea what it is for. The main problem lies with lifespan of the particle, which is about 1 trillionth of a second…. that is a very very short time to do anything practical with it.
    Be it as it may, given time, we may actually find practical uses (which may include teleportation and that would be really cool). For now what we have is like dropping an iPhone at a caveman’s door. He will never know what to do with it.

    • Storm Miller
      February 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm | #4

      Interesting discussion. I have often pondered Teleportation, someone once told me teleportation of organic beings however possible, was highly improbable for the fact our bodies being broken down to millions of particles, than instantaneous transmission and rematerialization of said particles elsewhere. This would destroy you and re-create you again. This being a huge flaw in teleportation. Maybe with the Higgs boson particle we couldi find. a more logical course, like re-adjusting the particles around us. Who knows?

  3. July 9, 2012 at 10:51 am | #5

    Good attempt at explaining this. Am stilll wondering, is it a particle like the electrons, protons and neutrons? Any links with the technical stuff?

    • July 9, 2012 at 11:22 am | #6

      Hi Afrimagnate, there is quite a lot of info on the net on the Higgs Boson.

  4. July 9, 2012 at 10:51 am | #7

    how many people ill read this??

  5. May 7, 2013 at 2:25 pm | #9

    Thank you for the brilliant article. Will now more stop by. Greetings from Cologne

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