Wednesday, July 4, 2012

On 'Murica and Bosons

Happy Independence Day, darling readers!  The day we celebrate our independence from the British by drinking, eating hamburgers, and shooting off explosives.  America...f*** yeah!  (If you don't know what that's from, get the internet).

It is also MOTHERLOVING HIGGS BOSON DAY.  Do you know what that means?

No?  Let me explain.  You know how things around you have, like, mass?  That thing that makes them heavy and also tangible?  My chemistry teachers always described it as the amount of "stuff" in an object.

Well, in order for things to have mass, modern particle physics says that elementary particles (those little subatomic things that MAKE UP atoms, like quarks (up, down, strange, charm, top, bottom!)) need the Higgs mechanism, which is the process which gives those awesome little particles mass.  And in order to explain the Higgs mechanism, they needed the Higgs Boson, which has never been discovered.  (Hence the punchline, "If you don't allow Higgs Boson Particles, how do you have mass?!" (Yes, the interrobang was necessary.  I think the joke involves something about a pastor.  Ohwell, the punchline's the only relevant bit anyway.))

Until, you know, today, or well, yesterday in Switzerland at this point (you suck, time zones), when the awesome guys playing around with that terrifying supercollider known as the LHC at CERN found a new particle which they are more than 99% certain is the God Particle itself, the Higgs Boson.

Like...the answer to why things have mass and therefore, yknow, exist.  Was discovered.  We think.  And for that, you get a HAPPY MOTHERLOVIN' HIGGS BOSON DAY.

Particle physicists and nerds of the world, I suggest we celebrate this holiday by drinking and setting off explosives.  Hamburgers optional.

Wishing you and yours a happy day,
Rachel Leigh

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