Sunday, August 19, 2007

Angel Wings & hidden fields

Click Image to Enlarge.- Image by Roger Johnston @ techrepublic

Though we have discovered most of the constituent part-icles that make up the Universe, the very thing that gives matter mass - the very stuff that we and everything is 'made' off - still eludes us.

The Higgs boson, a fundamental particle predicted by theorist Peter Higgs, may be the key to understanding why elementary particles have mass. The vacuum — or empty space — is far from empty.
Empty Space is "noisy" and full of virtual particles and force fields. The origin of mass seems to be related to this phenomenon.

In Einstein's theory of relativity, there is a crucial difference between massless and massive particles: All massless particles must travel at the speed of light, whereas massive particles can never attain this ultimate speed. But, how do massive particles arise?

Higgs proposed that the vacuum contains an omnipresent field that can slow down some (otherwise massless) elementary particles — like a vat of molasses slowing down a high-speed bullet.

Such particles would behave like massive particles travelling at less than light speed. Other particles — such as the photons of light — are immune to the field: they do not slow down and remain massless.

Hunt for the Higgs from International Science Grid

Although the Higgs field is not directly measurable, accelerators can excite this field and "shake loose" detectable particles called Higgs bosons. So far, experiments using the world's most powerful accelerators have not observed any Higgs bosons, but indirect experimental evidence suggests that particle physicists are poised for a profound discovery.

Welcome to CERN - The World's largest Particle Physics Lab

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