Discovery of the Missing Link 

On 4th July 2012, the Higgs boson particle was discovered by researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, commonly known as CERN, in Switzerland.  On the specified date, the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN independently announced the observation of a new particle in the mass region of approximately 125 GeV, consistent with the Higgs boson.

 Noble prize winning globally renowned physicists Peter Higgs and François Englert, and four other theorists proposed the existence of the Higgs boson particle or the ‘God particle’ in 1964.  Higgs expired on 9th April 2024, at the age of 94. He was in his thirties when he made this profound prediction.

Higgs boson particle attempts to explain how matter formed after the Big Bang. The Big Bang Theory gives a scientific explanation of the origins of the universe. explains the Big Bang Theory very lucidly. It says, “Simply put, it says the universe as we know it started with an infinitely hot and dense single point that inflated and stretched — first at unimaginable speeds, and then at a more measurable rate — over the next 13.7 billion years to the still-expanding cosmos that we know today.”

Higgs theorised that there needed to be the existence of a subatomic particle of certain dimension which could explain how other particles, and consequently stars, planets and comets and other things in the universe, garnered mass. Without this particle, the set of equations physicists use to explain the universe, known as the Standard Model, would not be consistent. 

Higgs boson particle is a subatomic particle with a mass of 120 times that of proton (another subatomic particle with a positive charge) and an extremely short lifespan of 10 to the power -22 seconds. This large mass of the Higgs boson(for a subatomic particle), combined with its extremely short lifetime entails that the particle cannot be found in nature and it needs to be produced in a laboratory to experimentally verify its existence. 

CERN states that the first particle collider in history capable of producing Higgs bosons in significant numbers is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which started its high-energy collision programme in 2010. 

According to the US Department of Energy, the Higgs boson is the fundamental particle associated with the Higgs field, a field that gives mass to other fundamental particles such as electrons and quarks. The discovery of this subatomic particle has the potential to significantly increase our understanding of the universe.  Higgs boson particle was the missing link in the Standard Model of physics, which has been attempting to explain our universe. Its discovery through experiment has given a fillip towards exploring some fundamental questions in physics. 

The US Department of Energy states that scientists are now studying the characteristic properties of the Higgs boson to determine if it precisely matches the predictions of the Standard Model of particle physics. It observes that if the Higgs boson deviates from the model, it may provide clues to new particles that only interact with other Standard Model particles through the Higgs boson and thus pave the way for new scientific discoveries.

CERN observes that measuring the properties of the Higgs boson in detail is crucial to exploring many outstanding mysteries in particle physics and cosmology, from the wild variation of masses of elementary particles to the fate of the universe.

As for our day to day mundane lives, the role of the Higgs boson particle is yet to be unraveled. But we should recollect that when the electron – the first fundamental particle to be discovered experimentally -was discovered by JJ Thomson in 1897, very few could visualise how electrons could revolutinise our post-modern life and lifestyles.

 Today, without the application of electrons our technologically-driven world as we know and live it, would not have been possible. The role of this subatomic particle is widespread in communications, entertainment, transport and many many other fields of post-modern human life. So, the role of the Higgs boson particle directly influencing our life and lifestyle in the future cannot be discounted with our present level of knowledge.

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