Saturday, 7 July 2012

Cause to celebrate

Last Wednesday, 4th July, americans everywhere were quite rightly celebrating their independence day as usual. Happily however, in the science world there was another reason to celebrate! The LHC (Large Hadron Collider) particle detector at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland may have discovered the elusive Higgs Boson particle which understandably sent a wave of excitement and joy through physicists around the globe. As a scientist who has a couple of friends who are physicists I witnessed and felt their joy. One of said pals was close to tears bless her. I am a chemist but as I understand it, in physics there is a Standard Model made up of all particles in the universe. Most of these particles are known about eg electrons, protons, quarks etc. However there is a gap in this model, where the never before detected Higgs particle is thought to live. Physicists have been trying for over 50 years to find the Higgs Particle named after Dr Peter Higgs of Edinburgh university, UK who first theorised about the existence of a field which pervades everything in our universe. Here is a video fromFermilab which explains Higss Boson quite nicely. I like this explanation

Particle physicists and the LHC still have plenty of work to do. This new particle dectected at 125eV is thought to be the Higgs Boson and amounted to just a tiny blip on a graph. CERN still need to confirm that this is indeed the particle they have been looking for. The Standard Model is not quite complete and doesn't consider gravity. Will scientists now be on the lookout for the graviton particle? I will keep my eyes peeled on this story and also to see if Dr Higgs gets the Nobel Prize he deserves. Could it happen for him this year? I truly hope so. I realise I wasn't as quick off the mark as many people have been in commenting on this discovery but if it is the Higgs and the scientists involved are 99.999999% sure it is, then this momentous ocassion will no doubt be talked about for many many years to come.  I will leave you with this video from The Big Bang Theory in which Dr Sheldon Cooper is attempting to explain using pictures what a Higgs Boson particle is, to the layperson, namely Penny.I hope you enjoy and thanks for reading

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