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The Higgs Boson: The Search for Its Existence and the Theory Essay

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Updated: May 8th, 2022

Introduction

Over the centuries, physicists have been striving to understand and unravel the mystery of particles that are found in the universe. Peter Higgs is one of the physicists who have made tremendous progress in the study of the universe and matter. In the 1960s, he formulated a clandestine theory that matter originates from a “God particle” in the universe. The “God particle” enables particles to interact effectively in the energy fields called the Higgs field. The theory of Peter Higgs postulates that particles interact in the cosmic field (Higgs field), leading to the creation of matter that is in the universe. Owing to the mystery behind the “God particle”, Jaeckel posits, “scientists around the world are assiduously trying to do mega experiments to plug the fundamental gaps in their understanding of the universe” (2007, p. 36). After decades of research, scientists have now discovered the existence of the “God particle” in the universe. Therefore, this essay examines the theoretical basis for the “God particle” and describes the search process for the particle.

Theoretical Basis

Peter Higgs theorized that particles in the universe interact in a manner that leads to an increase in their masses. The “God particle” is responsible for the interaction of particles, which increases their masses. The Higgs boson theory has its basis in the fields of electromagnetism and quantum physics, which have always attempted to explain the mystery behind the existence of particles and their interaction in the cosmic field. In the 1960s, Peter Higgs predicted the existence of particles responsible for increasing masses of particles. Although his prediction then seemed like a mirage, continued research by physicists led to the discovery of the “God particle” in the 21 century. However, many scientists have been questioning the existence of the particle. Gibbs (2012) notes, “The answer most often given is that the Higgs is a particle of special importance because it gives mass to the elementary particles of the standard model through spontaneous symmetry breaking” (p.543). Hence, the theory tries to elucidate how matter comes into existence during the interaction of particles.

Peter Higgs employed a standard model in predicting the behavior of particles in the Higgs field. Higgs field is similar to quantum fields where electronic particles in atoms reside or revolve. In the Higgs field, particles interact thus increasing their masses. Lederman and Teresi (2006) posit, “All the space contains a field, the Higgs field, which permeates the vacuum and is the same everywhere” (p.368). Hence, it implies that the Higgs field is a space in which particles can interact and increase their masses. The Higgs field provides energy for particles to move about while colliding with each other. In a bid to understand the collisions of particles, scientists have been trying to design supercolliders, which enhance the effective collisions of the particles in the Higgs field.

Since the Higgs field contributes to the interaction of the particles, the theory posits that the smallest field of excitation, called the Higgs boson, is responsible for the creation of the matter in the Higgs field. As per the standard model, the Higgs boson is an important aspect of research because it allows the existence of multiple particles in a similar quantum field at the same time. The existence of the Higgs boson in the Higgs field causes particles to interact and increase their masses, hence the name “God particle”, which has revived great interests in scientific circles. The discovery of the boson will lead to the understanding of the mysteries that have clouded the minds of scientists for many years (Hu & Wu, 2012). The Higgs mechanism takes place in the boson. The mechanism involves the process through which elementary particles interact and increase their masses. Therefore, understanding the Higgs mechanism and existence of the Higgs boson is very important to physicists as it unravels mysteries behind the interaction of particles and the creation of matter.

In elucidating the theory, Peter Higgs used quantum chromodynamics and quantum electrodynamics. By applying the standard model, Peter Higgs tried to define the properties of the “God particle” and attempted to explain how it contributes to increasing masses of the particles that interact in the boson. Gibbs (2012) argues that electrodynamics and electromagnetic are critical in the elucidation of the Higgs mechanism because they enhance understanding of the equations that are applicable in the analysis of the “God particle”. Since scientists assumed that the Higgs boson is heavy, they created huge particle colliders to prove the existence of the Higgs field where particles collide. Through electroweak theory, scientists have elucidated the interaction of particles in the collider leading to an increase in their masses.

Search Process for the “God particle”

In the 1950s, physicists started to formulate various theories that explain the relationships of particles in the universe. However, they did not reach an agreement since many of the theories remained unresolved. Lack of empirical evidence barred many theories from progressing to completion. In 1954, Yang Mill attempted to unify the diverse particle theories. He theorized that particles do not have masses and he used quantum chromodynamics to prove his theory (Baggot, 2012). By the 1960s, physicists further discovered that massless particles originated from particles breaking through the process of spontaneous symmetry. This discovery compelled other scientists, who believed that particles have masses since they can interact in the energy fields as per quantum physics, to conduct further research about particles.

In 1964, Peter Higgs formulated his theory by asserting that particles interact in an energy field increasing their masses. He applied quantum electrodynamics and quantum chromodynamics in the study of particles. The spontaneous symmetry enabled Peter Higgs to realize that particles have their masses depending on their level in energy fields (Higgs fields). Moreover, this discovery led to the revelation that particles reside in bosons, which are the smallest part of the energy field in the Higgs field. Then, Peter Higgs stressed the importance of spontaneous symmetry in enhancing the interaction of particles in the boson. Quantum chromodynamics did not work well in elucidating nuclear forces within the Higgs fields. Gibbs notes, “In 1967, Weinberg and Salam realized that it worked perfectly when applied to Glashow’s weak force gauge theory” (2012, p.545). The realization of the essence of quantum chromodynamics enabled physicists to assign masses to the bosons and leptons through the process of spontaneous symmetry breaking of particles.

In the 1970s and 1980s, physicists continued with the research on the dynamics of particles in the universe and then gained more knowledge as research accumulated. Theories of spontaneous breaking and electroweak were central in the progression of the Higgs boson theory in the late 20th century. The electroweak theory enhanced the understanding of particle interactions in bosons. Moreover, spontaneous symmetry breaking provided insights into the existence of the “God particle” in the Higgs field. The two theories were central in the development of Higgs boson theory because they reinforced theoretical aspects of the theory. Baggott (2012) states that quantum chromodynamics theory describes the feasibility of boson’s existence in the Higgs field because it provides a clear view of particles. Hence, the standard model best explains the existence of particle interaction in the Higgs fields.

After a long period of research, scientists discovered the Higgs boson in 2012. The discovery attracted great attention from the media because scientists have used billions of dollars in scrutinizing the hypothesis that Peter Higgs put forward 48 years ago. Additionally, most leading scientists had refuted the hypothesis, but they eventually proved themselves wrong after decades of debate and research. “The momentous discovery of the Higgs boson announced on July 4, 2012, by the European Organization for Nuclear Research brought tremendous excitements both in the physics communities and the general public” (Gibbs, 2012, p. 543). The discovery opened opportunities for particle research and the growth of knowledge in the field of physics.

Conclusion

The Higgs boson hypothesis is a theory that postulates that “God particle” exists in the Higgs field and increases masses of particles when they interact. The Higgs fields have boson, which provides energy fields where particles interact effectively. Peter Higgs first hypothesized the existence of the “God particle” in 1964, but researchers in the European Organization for Nuclear Research proclaimed its existence on July 4, 2012. The discovery is a major step in the field of physics since scientists have spent billions of dollars and decades of research in searching for the “God particle”, the boson.

References

Baggott, J. (2012). Higgs: The invention and discovery of the ‘God particle’. New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Gibbs, P. (2012). The Higgs Boson and the power of consistency. Scientific GOD Journal, 3(6), 543-549.

Hu, H., & Wu, M. (2012). Dawn of a brave new world: Higgs discovery & the ‘God particle’. Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research, 3(7), 758-769.

Jaeckel, T. (2007). The God Particle: Discovery and modeling of the ultimate prime particle and how it covertly underlies and is responsible for the properties of matter and forces. London, UK: Universal Publishers.

Lederman, L., & Teresi, D. (2006). The God Particle: If the Universe is the answer, what is the question? New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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