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Frank Close on the Higgs boson

In 2013, the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded jointly to François Englert and Peter W. Higgs for their work on what is now commonly known as the Higgs field and the Higgs boson. The existence of this fundamental particle, responsible for the creation of mass, was confirmed by the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in 2012.

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From the Higgs to dark matter

By Gianfranco Bertone
A quiet turmoil agitates the international scientific community, as cosmology and particle physics discretely inch toward a pivotal paradigm shift.
The giant detectors that have allowed the much celebrated discovery of the Higgs boson, for which the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded this October, now sit quietly in the depths of CERN’s Large Hadron Collider tunnel — barely fitting in their underground hall, like the green apple in Magritte’s painting The Listening Room —

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And the Nobel Prize goes to… Higgs and Englert!

By Jim Baggott
Earlier today the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the award of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics to English theorist Peter Higgs and Belgian François Englert, for their work on the ‘mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles’. This work first appeared in a series of research papers published in 1964.

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What happens next in the search for the Higgs boson?

By Jim Baggott
The 4 July discovery announcement makes it clear that the new particle is consistent with the long-sought Higgs boson. The next step is therefore reasonably obvious. Physicists involved in the ATLAS and CMS detector collaborations at the LHC will be keen to push ahead and fully characterize the new particle. They will want to know if this is indeed the Higgs boson. How can they tell?

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How does the Higgs mechanism create mass?

By Jim Baggott
Through thousands of years of speculative philosophy and hundreds of years of hard empirical science, we have tended to think of mass as an innate property (a ‘primary quality’) of material substance. We figured that, whatever they might be, the basic building blocks of matter would surely consist of microscopic lumps of some kind of ‘stuff’.

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Why is the Higgs boson called the ‘god particle’?

By Jim Baggott
The Higgs field was invented to explain how otherwise massless force particles could acquire mass, and was used by Weinberg and Salam to develop a theory of the combined ‘electro-weak’ force and predict the masses of the W and Z bosons. However, it soon became apparent that something very similar is responsible for the masses of the matter particles, too.

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What is the Higgs boson?

By Jim Baggott
We know that the physical universe is constructed from elementary matter particles (such as electrons and quarks) and the particles that transmit forces between them (such as photons). Matter particles have physical characteristics that we classify as fermions. Force particles are bosons.

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Edinburgh International Book Festival: Frank Close and Peter Higgs

By Frank Close
When I interviewed Peter Higgs at the Borders Book Festival in Melrose in June, he had been waiting 48 years to see if his eponymous boson exists. On July 4 CERN announced the discovery of what looks very much like the real thing. On August 13 I am sharing the stage with Peter again, this time in Edinburgh. We shall be discussing his boson and my book The Infinity Puzzle, which relates the marathon quest to find it. How has his life changed?

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Putting the Higgs particle in perspective

By Jim Baggott
On 4 July scientists at CERN in Geneva declared that they had discovered a new particle ‘consistent’ with the long-sought Higgs boson, also known as the ‘God particle’. Although further research is required to characterize the new particle fully, there can be no doubt that an important milestone in our understanding of the material world and of the evolution of the early universe has just been reached.

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2012: The year that the Higgs boson is discovered

By Jim Baggott
The new year is a time for bold and often foolhardy predictions. Certainly, most of us will take the prophesy of impending doom on 21 December, 2012 with a large pinch of salt. This date may represent the end of a 5,125-year cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, but it doesn’t necessarily signal the end of all things (not even in Mayan history, contrary to popular belief). I think that when the time comes, we can plan for Christmas 2012 with a reasonably clear conscience. But, despite the obvious pitfalls, I am prepared to stick my neck out and make a prediction. I predict that this will be the year that the Higgs boson is discovered.

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Enjoying our Universe [slideshow]

What do we mean by “the Universe”? In the physics community, we would define “the Universe” as all “observable things”, ranging from the entire cosmos to stars and planets, and to small elementary particles that are invisible to the naked eye. Observable things would also include recently made discoveries that we are slowly coming to understand more, such as the Higgs boson, gravitational waves, and black holes.

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In defense of beating dead horses: probing a subtle universe

A February 2017 Workshop on Robustness, Reliability, and Reproducibility in Scientific Research was sponsored by the US National Science Foundation (NSF).  The workshop was part of NSF’s response to growing concerns in Congress triggered by increasing media coverage of an apparent lack of reproducibility among findings, especially in clinical sciences. The participants, spanning diverse scientific subfields, were charged to assess the extent of any problems of reliability and reproducibility, and to formulate next steps toward solutions.

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The conceptual evolution of mass and matter [excerpt]

We learn in school science class that matter is not continuous, but discrete. As a few of the philosophers of ancient Greece once speculated nearly two-and-a-half thousand years ago, matter comes in “lumps.” If we dig around online we learn that we make paper by pressing together moist fibers derived from pulp. The pulp has an internal structure built from molecules (such as cellulose), and molecules are in turn constructed from atoms (carbon, oxygen, hydrogen).

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Quantum fields

Some say everything is made of atoms, but this is far from true. Light, radio, and other radiations aren’t made of atoms. Protons, neutrons, and electrons aren’t made of atoms, although atoms are made of them. Most importantly, 95% of the universe’s energy comes in the form of dark matter and dark energy, and these aren’t made of atoms. The central message of our most fundamental physical theory, namely quantum physics, is that everything is made of quantized fields.

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