Following the recent discovery of what is believed to be the Higgs Boson particle, Dr. John Cumalat of CU Boulder, visited Mines and presented “The Meaning of Mass” explaining some of the implications of this historic finding.
According to Cumalat, the discovery of the Higgs Boson would “provide the meaning of mass” that has eluded scientists and created a gap in the Standard Model of Particle Physics. The Standard Model predicts a “field” that would exist everywhere, even in deepest space in order to unify the electromagnetic and nuclear forces to the force of gravity, and thereby potentially explain the meaning of mass. The discovery of the Higgs Boson would be evidence of this field.
In theory, Cumalat explained, if a particle is dragged through the Higgs field, its interaction with the field would be based off of the particle’s mass and its coupling with the Higgs field. A stronger coupling would signify a larger, heavier particle and whereas a lighter coupling would smaller particle would signify a smaller, lighter one. Therefore, the discovery of the Higgs Boson would reveal the physics behind mass and complete the Standard Model of the universe.
Although it has not been officially confirmed, the particle was likely discovered July 4 at the CERN laboratory in Geneva Switzerland. Using the lab’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17 mile circuit buried up to five hundred feet below ground, scientists accelerated protons in opposite directions, up to a speed of 99.999999% the speed of light. The objective was to have the particles collide and find the Higgs Boson from the shards of these collisions. The results revealed a particle with a mass of 125 GeV/c^2, right in the range scientists and engineers in Geneva had been hoping for.