Does the Higgs boson still leave you scratching your head?
Scientists at CERN in Switzerland made a huge splash in 2012 when they discovered what they thought might be the Higgs boson, a new subatomic particle first theorized by physicists back in 1964. The discovery was confirmed on Mar. 14, 2013.
But for all the hype, this particle continues to leave many people puzzled. So, who better to explain the Higgs boson than its namesake, physicist Peter Higgs himself? Check out the BBC video above to hear him boil a complicated explanation down to two minutes — that is, after he first chuckles at the question, "what is the Higgs boson?"
"These particles are just packages of energy of some kind of field," Higgs says in the video. He goes on to explain that the bosons make up a "background field" that pervades the universe, even in a vacuum that is the lowest energy state you can possibly have.
Why is that so incredible? "The background field in interaction with all the other stuff which goes through it, is responsible for generating the masses and mass differences of the other particles, elementary particles, the ones which are packages of energy of all the other fields," Higgs says. Mind. Blown.