Sir J. J. Thomson’s discovery of electron and proton and the discovery of neutron by Chadwick (1932) and the experiment on scattering of alpha particles led to the Rutherford model of nuclear atom.
The Nobel prize in physics was awarded to two physicists Peter Higgs and Francois Englert for their theoretical discovery of mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles. The existence of a particle, Higgs boson, was predicted in 1964 by the two physicists.
The question that has been baffling the scientists is “Why fundamental particles have mass?’ It is known that photons have no mass, whereas W and Z bosons have mass 100 times that of a proton. Three scientists Brout-Englert-Higgs proposed mechanism to explain the mass possessed by the particles. The particles acquire mass when they interact with the invisible field called the Higgs field which pervades the universe.
The creation of universe is explained by the ‘Big Bang’ theory. Just after big-bang the Higgs field was zero, but as the universe cooled and the temperature fell below a critical value, the field grew spontaneously and any particles interacting with it acquired a mass. The more a particle interacts with this field the heavier it is. Particles like photon do not interact with it and have no mass. The Higgs field has an associated particle called Higgs boson (or God particle). The Higgs boson is visible manifestation of Higgs field, which is energy field that transmits mass to the object that travels through it.
CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHE) is used to collide highly accelerated positive particles (almost reaching the speed of light), such as protons to produce energies simulating those 1trillionth to 2 trillionths of a second after the Big Bang. Finding the Higgs particle required participation of thousands of scientists from all over the world and monument of data from trillions of colliding protons. Two scientists from TIFR (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research), Mumbai had participated in the project. They had their contribution in the detectors used in the LHC: The detector is used to detect the number of subatomic particles that are produced after the collision of the protons. A Higgs boson is one of those particles.
CERN is an European Organization for Nuclear Research acronym for French “Conseil Europeen pour to Recherche”. The LHC is a seventeen mile track buried under ground outside Geneva (beneath Franco-Swiss border) that brings about the collision between the high speed protons. The amount invested to build LHC is about six billion dollors. Higgs boson particle predicted in 1964, was detected in July 4, 2012 and confirmed on the 13th March 2013. The mass of the Higgs boson is about 126 GeV and has a life of about 10-22 seconds. Its spin is zero, as predicted and is a scalar particle. It is unstable and decays into other particles. Belgium. Physicists Francois Englert and British physicist Peter Higgs were awarded Nobel Prize on October 8, 2013 as stated earlier.
The word boson was used to honour S.N.Bose, an Indian Physicist, for the work he did with Alber Einstein on defining the general properties of all bosons.
The particles quarks and leptons, together called fermions are the building blocks of matter. Today it is known that the matter particles interact with each other through other particles such as photons, W and Z bosons, gluons and the Higgs boson.
How the Higgs boson particles will be helpful to the mankind, we do not know at this stage. Let us salute the great Physicists – Englert and Higgs!
Dr. U. B. Hadkar