The Higgs Boson – Quantum Mechanics for Beginners……

17 Dec

Introduction……

Quantum Mechanics deals with the sub-atomic world of atoms and their constituent parts.  Initially proposed in theoretical physics in the early 20th century it attempts to dismantle matter into its smallest fundamental building blocks.  Some parts of the have now been shown, experimentally, to agree with the theory……

How do you Achieve it……

To ‘see’ the fundamental particles is impossible with the naked eye or even with the most powerful Electron Microscopes.  To ‘see’ what is happening requires a particle accelerator which are amongst the largest pieces of scientific experimental equipment ever built by mankind.  The Stanford Linear Particle Accelerator was one of the earliest and demonstrated that the principal worked, as well as making some important early discoveries.  The famous Tevitron accelerator at Fermilab built on the work of the Stanford experiment.  Finally, we now have the Large Hadron Collider which is four times as powerful as the Tevitron and is a 27km loop spanning the Swiss/French boarder……

How can you ‘see’ the Invisible……

 

The basic principal is simple although in practice hard to achieve.  Protons are fired in opposite directions and accelerated to almost the speed of light.  Then they are smashed together.  The resulting destruction of the particles is too small and fast to observe directly.  Instead, the detectors measure the energy and dispersal of the collision.  Knowing the mass of the initial particles allows the Physicists to calculate what and where the ‘pieces’ go……

The Higgs Boson……

First proposed by Professor Peter Higgs in the 1960’s, physicists believe that the Higgs Boson and Higgs Field is what gives us mass (makes solid objects).  Evidence of the Higgs particle has yet to be confirmed.  Although, recent results from the Atlas experiment at the LHC has observed something which could be the thus far allusive Higgs Boson.  Many more observations are needed to provide enough data to confirm this but early results are promising……

The diagram is a visual representation of a Proton collision.  The three red lines shown are thought to be the Higgs particle as it decays.  If successive collisions show the same results it should be possible to calculate the mass of the particle and its interactions with the other elementary particles in the diagram.  CERN have cautiously released this information expressing that much more work is needed to confirm that what they are observing is the Higgs particle. 

Watch this space……

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