Eli5 what is the god particle?


I remember it being this huge discovery but I never could find an explanation I understood.

In: Physics

The higgs boson. It is where we believe the source of mass is. And since the prevailing opinion is that mass is a main component of energy (energy=mass x the speed of light squared) we call it the god particle since energy cannot exist without mass. (This is my understanding and it may be incorrect or outdated)

The story goes that it wasn’t originally called the god particle but the “god d**ned” particle but some popular physics writers shortened it to the god particle and the name sort of stuck. Nothing to do with deities. The name of the particle is the Higgs boson.

Anyway, this delves deep into the standard model of particle physics which were developed over the 1950-60s and is still the most widely regarded model used today. (electrons etc) The Higgs boson was theorized along with the Higgs field and the reason it is important is that mass is the result of interaction of all other particles with the Higgs field. This was the “last” particle that was theorized to exist but not actually discovered in the standard model.

The problem was that the Higgs boson (which would lend credence to the Higgs field) would be at an energy level that could not be produced by the particle accelerators at that time. (perhaps why they called it “god d**ned” – it was out of reach)

One of the key reasons that the LHC was constructed was to (hopefully) generate the energy levels sufficient to find the Higgs boson which they finally did in 2013.

Forget the name god particle, it is the Higgs boson.

The name is from the book “the God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What is the Question?[” that the author Leon Lederman initially called “The Goddamn Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What is the Question?” but the publishers reject that title. It was written in the context of US government no longer supporting the Superconducting Super Collider that was a particle collider that would be more powerful the Large Hadron collider if it had been completed. The author has championed from it start in 1983 until it was canceled in 1993

The name stuck in outside in popular media but it is not used in the scientific field https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_boson#Naming

The article is part of the standard model of particle physics. It is the explanation why some particles have mass but some do not.

An example is that a photon that is the particle that light is “made of” have not mass but elections that is part of all atoms have mass.