After 45-Year Search, Scientists Explain How Matter Attains its Mass
Discovery of Higgs Particle Helps Solve One of the Great Mysteries of the Universe
by Eleazar Wawa, age 16
Many people are familiar with the Big Bang Theory: a large explosion created the entire universe. However, most people are unfamiliar with how matter was formed. Scientists have theorized that the key to this puzzle is the Higgs particle.
The particle is named after Professor Peter Higgs, a theoretical physicist who hypothesized its existence in 1960. The Higgs particle, nicknamed “the God particle,” creates a field, or Higgs field that causes other particles that move through it to attain mass.
After the Big Bang, countless particles and radiation energy were said to have been sent all over the universe. Theoretically radiation energy then condensed into the Higgs particle, which created the Higgs field. When the universe started cooling down, the other massless particles flying through the universe passed through the Higgs field, gaining mass.
Within the Higgs field, particles compact and form the larger composite particles, then atoms, molecules, various elements, and eventually, matter.
Until recently, there was no hard evidence that the Higgs particle existed. Last July, a European research organization called Conseil Européen pour la Recherché Nucléaire (CERN), aka the European Organization for Nuclear Research, made a breakthrough in the search for the God particle.
Scientists announced that through experiments with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest particle accelerator, they had discovered a “Higgslike” particle. After a 45-year long search, it appears that scientists have found the particle that explains how matter obtains its mass.
Furthermore, the Higgs particle may open the door to explaining several other unknowns, like the nature of “dark matter,” which makes up 96% of the entire universe. Although the Higgs particle may not tell us everything we want to know about the universe, it is an important component in man’s search for answers to the questions of the cosmos.
[Sources: The New York Times; www.fnal.gov; www.rookiemag.com; BBC News]