How the 'God Particle' is not like God and Where Mass Comes From.

To cheers and standing ovations, scientists at the world's biggest atom smasher claimed the discovery of a new subatomic particle Wednesday July 4, 2012, calling it "consistent" with the long-sought Higgs boson — popularly known as the "God particle" — that helps explain what gives all matter in the universe size and shape. (AP Photo/CERN)

Hi. Higgs here. Whether I won my bet or not, I’m happy for the physicists, even if the Higgs particle has acquired has the most annoying nickname ever to be given to a scientific idea. Every time I hear the term “God Particle” I bring up a hairball.

It's just plain pompous, whether one believes in God or not. It's also not descriptive or helpful.

And it's confusing. When people say the Higgs particle gives other particles their masses, it suggests that particles need some outside entity to give them mass. So what, then, gives the Higgs its mass? The situation is quite analogous to the proposition that God created everything in the universe, which implies that things can't exist without a creator and then begs the question of who or what created God.

Despite their inability to shake the odious "God Particle" label, physicists don't really think of the Higgs this way.

Here’s the result of some research we did with our local physicists:

The Higgs is named after the English physicist Peter Higgs, who proposed a theory in 1964 to explain a mystery: why the constituents of matter have mass but the light particle, or photon, is massless. Scientists had gotten used to the idea that electric and magnetic fields could pervade space, and Higgs proposed another field, bearing his name, through which particles could acquire mass.
Physicists say Higgs particles can be thought of as waves or ripples in the Higgs field. The particle is the manifestation of the Higgs theory that's potentially testable.

In the 1970s, the Higgs field was incorporated into a Nobel-winning theory that united electromagnetism with one of the forces involved in nuclear reactions. Now the Higgs idea is woven into the so-called Standard Model, which describes the constituents of matter and the forces that act on them.

So there you go. What they’re seeing is the testable prediction of Dr. Higgs’ idea. The particle doesn't magically bestow mass on other particles. All the particles, including the Higgs, are being weighted down by the Higgs field. By the way, this idea was independently formulated by a few other scientists so there may be a big catfight around Nobel time. Still, the physicists all deserve a treat. Thanks for letting me express my views. – Higgs.

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