I have to admit, I’m pleased that the Higgs boson is headline news around the world. Who would have thought that everyone would get so excited about science, about physics?
Whether you’ve studied physics or not, it is awesome to know that you were there to hear about a great moment of discovery in science. That this has happened in your lifetime.
Not only is this discovery awesome, but it opens up a whole new world of invention.
In the past, I’ve explained how the Pauli’s Exclusion Principle can make you think about life, the universe, and, yes, everything.
The confirmation that the Higgs boson exists opens a lot of doors. The theory that this boson existed began in 1964, by Dr Peter Higgs. No surprises why it’s called the Higgs boson.
For simplicity, consider a boson to be a subatomic particle that spins. By spinning, it creates an energy field. How other subatomic particles, electrons etc, move through this field (called the Higgs field, in a shock twist) was at the heart of this theory.
Particles moving through this energy field moved slowly, some moved fast, some moved very fast. The theory was that it was the energy field, generated by the Higgs boson, that gave particles mass and, thus, how quickly it could move. That is, the particles became ‘solid’, tangible. If they moved through the field quickly, it was at the speed of light.
So, unless some particles moved slowly, everything would move at the speed of light. And, everything that moves at the speed of light, is, well, light. We would be light. Everything would be light. So, it’s because of the Higgs boson, that we are not.
Faster than the speed of light
So, this is the fun bit. If we know that the Higgs boson controls the mass of particles, and how fast they move, we could learn to manipulate that.
Think about it. We could make things move faster than the speed of light, when we want them to. A whole lot more of the technologies we’ve seen (and wanted) from the realms of science fiction, could be possible.
Warp drives, for example. Being able to travel faster than the speed of light, to say, the shops, as another.
And, it has been the inquiring minds of dedicated scientists, that has tested, and proven that the Higgs boson exists.
From here, learning how to harness this discovery, and create new technologies, is going to be the really interesting part.
Over to you engineers.
In the immortal words of Jean-Luc Picard, ‘Make it so.’