Bats and balls explain the Higgs boson

An announcement of a scientific breakthrough on 4th July 2012 may just have changed our world view in ways we don’t yet know and most of us will probably never understand… those scientists at CERN have found that tiny thing they’ve been looking for at the end of a very long dark circular tunnel: the mass-giving Higgs boson!

Let’s try to make some sense of what it all means…

To the yummy mummies:

A ball pit

A ball pit

Imagine you’ve taken sticky-faced Timothy and grubby-paws Felicity to the ball pit at IKEA whilst you go off to shop for Swedish meatballs and stylish Tupperware. Your little darlings can be thought of as ‘the constituent parts of matter’ – your world, your everything!

Each of the coloured balls in the pit represents a Higgs boson… on their own easy to push past, but collectively they’ll slow down your toddler and stop them falling to the bottom of the Universe where all the monsters and boogie men are.

To the rad dads:

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

You’ve gotten ‘a pass’ from the missus to attend the opening night for Dark Knight Rises and you’re going in costume. You choose to go as the caped crusader and as you arrive at the gig in your supped-up batmobile the bat fans flock around you to admire your outfit asking about all its component parts. Nice nun chucks!






Out of the corner of your eye, you glance your mate Brian arrive and he’s come as Bane. Naturally, he only draws a few strange looks with his weird mask on and the juggernaut easily passes through into the cinema; a tactical manoeuvre no doubt to get the best seat.

To put it simply:

We think other particles get mass when they interact with Higgs bosons. The more of them they interact with at once, the more mass they have.

About Derek Shirlaw

I'm passionate about science communication, social media, and my home country, Scotland. In particular, I have a real interest in astronomy, digital marketing, and the great outdoors.
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