Ping-Pong Particles: What the Higgs Does

Article written: 4 Jul , 2012
Updated: 6 Jan , 2016

Unless you’ve been hiding under a chondrite for the past week you’ve heard the news from CERN regarding the discovery of a new particle that exhibits “Higgs-like” qualities. Particle physics isn’t the easiest discipline to wrap one’s head around, and while we’ve recently shared some simplified explanations of what exactly a Higgs boson is, well…here’s another.

Here, BBC’s Jonathan Amos attempts to demonstrate what the Higgs field does, and what part the boson plays. Some Ping-Pong balls, a little sugar, and a cafeteria tray is all it takes to give an idea of how essential this long-sought after subatomic particle is to the Universe. (If only finding it had been that easy!)

Video: BBC News

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8 Responses

  1. meekGee says

    To be more precise, the Higgs mechanism works just like what’s shown in the video, but without the sugar.

    • HeadAroundU says

      Yeah, that’s right, Higgs is salty. :d

      But, seriously, why? If it’s without sugar then explain it, otherwise you’re confusing. And don’t be ashamed to mention spontaneuosly broken symmetry. 😀

  2. zkank says

    Answer one question, create a thousand more questions.
    I love science!

  3. That’s a good description. I described it to my wife by saying if you drop sand into a swimming pool, each grain sinks at a different rate. Light, however, passes straight through to the bottom unhindered.

  4. SgtBeavis says

    Exciting times…

  5. bugzzz says

    Nice, simple explanation, especially the photon, which I didn’t actually realize has no mass. Never thought about it before.

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