God particle is a nickname given to the particle called Higgs boson. This nickname is hated by physicists as much as the world loves it.

But what’s so godly about the God particle? – Higgs Boson

Higgs Boson God Particle
Image: spiegel.de

The credit of naming goes to the novel prize winner physicist Leon N. Lederman who used the term for the first time in his book “The God particle: If the universe is the answer then what is the question” co-written with science writer Dick Teresi. Lederman was about to give the name “the goddamn particle” but the editors weren’t happy and the name “God particle” was bestowed.

Higgs himself was in disagreement with the name because he was an atheist and this name could mislead people’s thinking. Whatever the name’s a sublime one and its the word god that amuse people when they hear about it, that makes this particle more interesting. And the name is the main reason for people being interested in knowing it because the question arises, has science now explained or discovered god?

The answer to the above question is obvious since Higgs boson is nicknamed God particle, it has not got any substantial connection with the god. But there are some aspects of it which can allude an ordinary person as if it can be compared to the deities that are believed by theist people.

Higgs boson

Before entering the argument it is essential to know something about Higgs boson. Bosons are the elementary particles with zero or integral spin. Higgs boson is a massive elementary particle with zero spins, the particle associated with Higgs field or the particle responsible for this field.

The concept of this particle originated from the quest of the existence of gauge bosons with non zero mass in the standard model (The standard model contains the description of the presence of three of four fundamental forces of nature excluding gravity and the properties of fundamental particles that make up the world and explains almost every phenomenon).

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Higgs field provides the mass to the W and Z bosons during strong interaction through Higgs mechanism and hence explains why these bosons have mass, unlike the other gauge bosons. Since the standard model proposed the existence of this particle, its discovery in accord with the standard model, which verifies the standard model and this attribute made it highly anticipated particle for its discovery.

The God – the particle

As we, ordinary human being think of god, even if we are not a believer it implies the force that created as well as is protecting the world. Theologians describe god as something omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscience and eternal. Yes, god is a belief and not substantial.

Apart from this, the elementary particles are the particles which cannot be broken down into constituent ones. They are substantial and we have proof that they exist. Science stands on reasons and proofs but god has not got any. God and particle have no relation at all and indeed they are different.

The Godly thing about god particle

God particle must be godly according to a normal man’s thinking. And this god particle is decorated with certain attributes which makes it different, an extraordinary particle or let’s admire much and say ‘a god particle’. The validity of a standard model with its introduction must have cemented the belief in science. It has shown us a completely new path of understanding by the introduction of the broken symmetries as the massless gauge bosons. It also explains the acquisition of mass by various other elementary particles and why some particles are more massive than others (the particles acquire mass as they interact with Higgs field and the more they interact the massive they become).

So, in some metaphorical sense, it is in fact legitimate to say it god particle.

Higgs field and of course, Higgs particle are abundant throughout the universe including vacuum, in which other fields and respective particles are absent. This attribute of omnipresence must have propelled the thoughts to establish such a nickname to it though that name was not originated in such grounds.

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Also, it is totally unique as it is a scalar field whereas the other four fundamental force fields are vector fields. Furthermore, its discovery made the physicists realize the path followed by them is the right one, opening the field of discoveries.

The nicknames don’t matter at all since what it is and what it does has been the centre of attraction to us. Moreover, we should keep in mind that Higgs boson is not the ultimate answer to the origin of the universe but the marvels it has brought to us with it is as is god for the theist people.

This particle has boosted our understanding of the universe and has pushed the frontiers of human knowledge even further. Yet, there are more discoveries to come in science and particle physics still seeks further development.

Featured Image: spiegel.de


Ashwin Khadka is a Physics graduate from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. He is a science enthusiast, researcher and writer. Apart from writing he is also a researcher, with specialization on thin films for electrodes in solar cells.

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