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  • Context (TH): Nobel prize-winning physicist Peter Higgs has passed away at the age of 94. He proposed the existence of the “God particle“, also known as the Higgs boson.
  • Peter Higgs and five other theorists proposed the Higgs boson in 1964 to explain why certain particles have mass.
  • Scientists confirmed its existence in 2012 through the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland.
  • This discovery led to the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics being awarded to Higgs and Englert.
  • LHC produces collisions with extremely high energies to replicate conditions after the Big Bang.

Higgs Boson

  • It is the fundamental particle associated with the Higgs field, a field that gives mass to other fundamental particles such as electrons and quarks.
  • Without it, atoms wouldn’t stick together, and there would be no stars, planets or us.
  • According to the Standard Model of particle physics, particles gain their mass by interacting with a field called the Higgs field.
  • The Higgs field is hypothesised to exist everywhere in space, even in a vacuum, and has a non-zero value.
  • Particles like photons, which make up light, interact weakly with the Higgs field and have no mass.
  • Particles like electrons and quarks, which make up protons and neutrons, interact strongly with the Higgs field and acquire mass.
  • Experiments conducted at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in 2012 confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson.
  • The Higgs boson could lead to discoveries of new particles or reveal connections between forces we never knew existed.

Higgs hypothesis gathers mass

Standard Model of Particle Physics

The Standard Model includes the matter particles (quarks and leptons), the force carrying particles (bosons), and the Higgs boson.

  • The Standard Model comprises 17 fundamental particles. Only the electron and the photon were known a century ago.
  • These 17 fundamental particles are categorised into two groups: fermions and bosons.

Fermions – Building Blocks of Matter

  • There are 12 fermions, including six quarks and six leptons.
  • Quarks and leptons are the basic constituents of matter.
  • Electrons, a type of lepton, are familiar particles found in atoms.

Bosons

  • Five bosons are responsible for interactions between matter.
  • They carry three of the four fundamental forces: strong force, weak force, and electromagnetism.

Roles of Bosons

  • The gluon mediates the strong force, binding quarks to form larger particles.
  • The W and Z bosons facilitate the weak force involved in radioactive decay.
  • The photon carries the electromagnetic force, which is responsible for magnetism, electricity, and atomic interactions.
  • Gravity, the fourth fundamental force, is not accounted for in the Standard Model.
  • Protons and neutrons are not part of the Standard Model because they are bigger particles made out of quarks.
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