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Who Cares about Particle Physics?Making Sense of the Higgs Boson, the Large Hadron Collider and CERN$
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Pauline Gagnon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198783244

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198783244.001.0001

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What about the Higgs Boson?

What about the Higgs Boson?

(p.25) 2 What about the Higgs Boson?
Who Cares about Particle Physics?

Pauline Gagnon

Oxford University Press

How do fundamental particles acquire mass? To understand this, three elements are needed: a mathematical mechanism, a physical field and a new particle, the Higgs boson. The Brout–Englert–Higgs mechanism is a mathematical formalism that allows theorists to rearrange their equations to produce massive particles as observed in nature, instead of the massless particles obtained otherwise. This mechanism has revealed the existence of a new physical entity, now called the Brout–Englert–Higgs field. This field, just like space and time, is a property of our Universe. All particles interacting with this field acquire a mass, that is, a resistance to motion. The Higgs boson itself is an excitation of this field, just as a wave is an excitation of the surface of the ocean. Finding the Higgs boson proved the existence of this field. However, composite objects such as protons and atoms get their mass from the binding energy between their constituents.

Keywords:   Higgs boson, Brout–Englert–Higgs field, mass, Higgs mechanism, Brout–Englert–Higgs mechanism, binding energy

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