Peter Higgs and the genesis of the God Particle: 5 major insights into his theory | Trending - Hindustan Times
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Peter Higgs and the genesis of the God Particle: 5 major insights into his theory

ByVrinda Jain
Apr 10, 2024 07:23 PM IST

Peter Higgs was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2013 for discovering the God Particle. His theory shook the scientific world in 1964 when he first proposed it.

Renowned British physicist Peter Higgs, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2013 for discovering "God Particle"- a theoretical process to explain the origins of mass in the universe- died at 94. According to the University of Edinburgh, where he was professor emeritus, passed away on April 8 at his home.

Britain's Professor Peter Higgs is one of 13 Nobel laureates who have written an open letter opposing Brexit.(AP file)
Britain's Professor Peter Higgs is one of 13 Nobel laureates who have written an open letter opposing Brexit.(AP file)

He “was a remarkable individual — a truly gifted scientist whose vision and imagination have enriched our knowledge of the world that surrounds us,” said Peter Mathieson, the university’s principal and vice chancellor. (Also Read: I have no idea what God particle is for: Peter Higgs)

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Higgs stirred the scientific world when he introduced his hypothesis of the Higgs boson, popularly known as the God Particle. But what exactly is this theory?

Here are 5 points on the God Particle:

1. What was Higgs' hypothesis?

In 1964, Higgs predicted the presence of a new particle. He proposed that there must be a subatomic particle of a certain dimension that might explain how other particles — and all the stars and planets in the cosmos gained mass. But it wasn't until 2012 that his theory was confirmed.

2. How was the theory confirmed?

In 2012, scientists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, announced that they had finally discovered the Higgs boson using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a $10 billion atom smasher located in a 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel beneath the Swiss-French border, reported ABC news. (Also Read: For India, 'God particle' is as much boson as Higgs)

3. What is the LHC, and how is it related to the theory?

The LHC is a particle accelerator that propels protons or ions at almost the speed of light. It is made up of a 27-kilometer ring of superconducting magnets and many accelerating structures that raise the energy of the particles as they travel. It also helped discover what the Higgs field is, how it behaves, and whether it is elementary or composite.

4. How did this theory change the world?

According to CERN, "the discovery of the Higgs boson has opened up new windows in the search for new physics phenomena, since its properties – and even the number of distinct types of Higgs boson – are predicted to be different in different theoretical models". As scientists started to investigate the Higgs boson's properties, a whole new area of particle physics emerged.

5. How did the name God Particle come to be?

The Higgs boson was dubbed the God Particle in the 1992 book "The God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What Is the Question?" by the physicist Dr. Leon Lederman. The book discussed particle physics. Most physicists would argue that the Higgs boson has nothing to do with God. Indeed, scientists typically rejected the name God Particle.

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