Professor Peter’s particle

Mass, according to current thinking by physicists, might be a property given to certain particles by an all-pervasive field, named after its proposer, Professor Peter Higgs in 1964. As physics requires all fields to have an associated particle, finding the Higgs particle – the Higgs boson, or ‘God particle’ – would confirm the existence of the field, and thus also explain how some things have mass. One of the jobs of the Large Hadron Collider, built at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland, was to look for evidence of the Higgs boson. The LHC was opened on 10 September 2008, but broke down soon afterwards. If the Higgs boson is not found, it could mean that the Standard Model of how matter is constructed is wrong; but the Standard Model is in any case unable to accommodate Einstein’s explanation of what gravity is.

The Compact Muon Solenoid at CERN

Did God make the proto-Higgs boson?
Did He switch on His own LHC?
Has the Emperor of Physics no clothes on?
It seems we must just wait and see.

When the hardware at CERN has been mended,
Will the Higgs show its presence a bit?
If it does, physics’ work isn’t ended,
For gravity still doesn’t fit . . .

If it doesn’t, our model’s mistaken
(As it has been before in its history).
It will leave many heads being shaken,
And the nature of mass still a mystery . . .

It looks like a new Standard Model
Will have to be worked out at CERN,
Though I doubt if there’s room in our noddle
For all that we still have to learn. . .

[Diagram: CERN]
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