Imagine Margaret Thatcher in her prime as Prime Minister wandering through a Conservative cocktail party, attracting hangers-on keen to hear her every utterance and be seen with someone so powerful.
That's how the winning entry in the 1990s's contest "describe the boson theory on a single side of paper" explained how matter gets its mass, the Times Online reports.
In 1964 Professor Peter Higgs proposed a solution to a big question in physics: How does matter have mass? His model says the universe is permeated with an invisible field of particles called bosons, that consist of nothing but mass. As other particles move through the boson field, bosons stick to some of the particles, giving them mass. Other particles, like photons, do not pick up these boson hangers-on, and thus, have no mass.
Higgs, now 78 years old, thinks the reality of bosons — long called "the God particle" — will be proven when a new atom-smasher, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) near Geneva, Switzerland, goes online later this year.
The boson, it is theorized, exists only at super-high energy levels, such as those present immediately after the Big Bang. The new LHC will get close to those levels, firing protons that will traverse the 17-mile long particle accelerator 11,245 times a second before smashing into each other at 0.999997828 times the speed of light.
That's even faster than Margaret Thatcher could work a room.
Image: Oops. That was boson, not bison, right?
Boson | Particle Accelerator | Peter Higgs | Physics | God Particle | Burning Taper | BurningTaper.com