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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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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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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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The 34 most popular OUPblog posts of the last ten years

Yesterday we shared 34 selections of the OUPblog’s best work as judged by sharp editorial eyes and author favorites. However, only one of those selections coincides with the most popular posts according to pageviews. Does Google Analytics know something that our editors do not? Do these articles simply “pop” (and promptly deflate)? Or are there certain questions to which people always demand an answer?

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Top ten OUPblog posts of 2014 by the numbers

We’re kicking off the new year with a retrospective on our previous one. What was drawing readers to the OUPblog in 2014? Apparently, a passion for philosophy and a passion for lists. Here’s our top posts published in the last year, in descending order, as judged by the total number of pageviews they attracted.

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Holiday party conversation starters from OUP

The time for holiday dinner parties is approaching. Bring more than a smile and a sweater to your next soiree. Offer your family and friends the most powerful libation: knowledge. Here are some gems that you can drop to keep the conversation sparkling.

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