Since the activation of the Large Hadron Collider in 2008, the Higgs boson – more casually dubbed the “God particle” – has leapt from scientific holy grail into an everyday part of the pop cultural lexicon, from high brow (Nick Cave) to low brow (Buzzfeed).
On October 8th, physicists François Englert and Peter Higgs won the Nobel Prize for physics for their work, which set out to explain why mass exists and how particles acquire mass. Their findings – first documented by Englert following research conducted by Higgs and a team of scientists 1964 – that elementary particles sweep up their masses from an invisible energy field, led to the existence of a new fundamental particle, called the Higgs boson.
It took nearly five decades, over 10,000 scientists and a $9 billion, 27km long collider to find said particle, its existence likened to the search for the key to the universe. But the discovery of this “God” particle confirmed the validity of Higgs’ theory all those years ago.According to the jury, the pair’s “theoretical discovery” contributes to man’s “understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particles”.
For further explanation, a series of drawings in the New York Times by illustrator Nigel Holmes helps spell it out for the non-physicists out there. It’s as simple as an illusive snowflake…
By Matt Hurst