Saturday 19 April 2014

Scientist wanted to call it the 'Goddamn particle' because it was so elusive

A real CMS proton-proton collision in which 4 high energy electrons (green lines and red towers) are observed in a 2011 event. Photo: AP

IT'S been called the "God particle". But the Higgs boson has nothing to do with a deity.

The new subatomic particle discovered at CERN is certainly consistent with the elusive Higgs boson, and further work should confirm whether it is indeed the entity that fits into the Standard Model of physics.

We can thank the Nobel prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman, and his 1993 popular science book, for the catchy nickname.

He wanted to put the Higgs particle at the heart of modern theoretical physics as something that could explain why matter has mass and why, therefore, it comes together to form atoms, molecules, planets and people.

He also pointed out that his publishers rejected his preferred title of "Goddamn particle" (in recognition of its elusiveness) in favour of "God particle".

Peter Higgs has always despised the term, but it stuck. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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