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Why the Higgs Boson Is Not “The God Particle”

While today's announcement of the Higgs' discovery is important, we should not elevate it to deity-status, says Dr. Dave Goldberg, professor of physics at Drexel University. It's just a particle. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Now that scientists believe they have found the elusive Higgs boson, a particle that was essential to completing our understanding of the Universe, we can begin to narrow down just what the Higgs particle isand what it isn’t. One thing it assuredly is not, says Dr. Dave Goldberg, professor of physics at Drexel University, is “The God Particle.” For starters, the Higgs particle is a particle like any other. “It interacts with other particles, and those interactions take the form of changes in energy.” And despite the Higgs’ fame for giving mass to matter, it is not the only thing that confers mass. Einstein’s famous E=mc^2, which equivocates mass with energy, is relevant here. Given the size of particles, most solid things are empty space, but the energy exchanged between supercharged atoms creates mass. In fact, almost none of your mass comes from the Higgs.

What’s the Big Idea?

While the Higgs discovery tells us we’re on the right track with the Standard Model, there are a host of observable phenomena which the Higgs tells us nothing about. Neither it nor the Standard Model explain how gravity works, nor account for dark matter (23% of the Universe) or the presence of dark energy (73% of the Universe). The Higgs is an important discovery but we should not elevate it to deity-status. 

Photo credit: CERN


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