What is the God Particle? How does the Higgs Boson work? If you were a fish, would you know that the entire world in which you existed was contained in a substance called water? You probably wouldn’t know it because, you had always been in it.
You could not see, breathe, travel or exist outside of it. Water would just be there, and you would take it for granted. You probably would not even know that it was a substance that you were living in. It would just be a kind of liquid field that permeates your entire world.
We humans also live in such a field that permeates the entire universe we live in – without which we could not exist. What is this field, and what does the God particle have to do with it? In the 2nd half of the 20th century, physicists developed something called the standard model of particle physics. Nearly all phenomenon, and the underlying particles that make up ultimate building blocks of the universe can be explained by this model, except gravity.This model consists of 12 fundamental particles that make up all matter, and 4 particles, called bosons responsible for 3 fundamental forces of nature: strong force, weak force, and electromagnetism.
Gravity is another force, and it not part of this model. But it can be modeled using general relativity. With the recipe provided in the standard model, and gravity, we can build everything in the entire universe. However, up until 2012, the standard model had a gaping flaw. According to its underlying theory, all force carrying particles should be massless.
Although the photon which is indeed massless, experiments show that the weak force's bosons have mass. So here was a promising model that could be used to explain our universe. But perhaps it would need to be thrown out because it had this seemingly fatal flaw in being inconsistent regarding the way the weak force worked.
In the late 1950s, physicists had "no idea" how to resolve these issues. All attempts to solve this problem just seemed to create new theoretical problems. Then in 1964, a group of scientists (including Peter Higgs) hypothesized that perhaps the force particles were massless, but gained mass when they interacted with an energy field that pervaded the entire universe. The field required for this to happen became known as the Higgs field (after Peter Higgs, one of the researchers) and the particle responsible for creating the field became, known as the Higgs Boson.
We tend to think of mass as an intrinsic property of all things, yet physicists believe that without the Higgs boson, mass fundamentally doesn’t exist. The Higgs field was thought to be responsible for the fact that some particles that should not have mass, do. It is, in a sense, the universal medium which gives particles their mass. And without mass the universe would not exist – so the Higgs Boson is so important that it was sensationally labelled “The God Particle” by journalists.
How does it work? It is theorized that different particles interact differently with the field.
The particles that interact with it more intensely, have greater mass than particles that don’t interact with it.
Let’s use the analogy of the water, certain shapes like a pointed nose fish would be able to flow very quickly through the water because of low resistance. While a block would have higher resistance, and would interact with the water to a greater degree. Subatomic particles interact with the Higgs field in a similar way.
Just like H2O makes up water, the Higgs boson makes up the Higgs field. The Higgs boson was only a theory up until 2012, when the Large Hadron collider confirmed its existence. According to the Standard Model now, the Higgs Field exists throughout space and breaks certain symmetry laws of the electroweak interaction.[e] Via the Higgs mechanism, this field causes the bosons of the weak force to be massive. When the weak force bosons acquire mass, this affects their range, which becomes very small.
it was later realized that the same Higgs field also explains, why other fundamental constituents of matter like electrons and quarks also have mass. So like the fish need water to breathe, we need the Higgs Field to exist.