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Explainer: So what's this Higgs boson thing all about?

Confused by all this talk about the ‘god particle’? Us too. So we’ve put together the best explainer videos IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE to try and er, explain it all…

Results from CERN today which may or may not show that Higgs boson exists. Helpful.
Results from CERN today which may or may not show that Higgs boson exists. Helpful.
Image: CERN

CONFUSED BY ALL this talk about the Higgs boson? Yeah, us too.

We here at TheJournal.ie HQ have spent a good chunk of today watching the increasingly bizarre attempts by news outlets trying to explain exactly what this so-called ‘god particle’ is.

And at the end of it all, we realised that even after Bryan Dobson’s best efforts to explain it on the Six-One News earlier, we’re still not quite sure (sorry Dobbo. It’s not you, it’s us).

So we’ve put together the five best videos we could find to help explain exactly what this Higgs boson is and why we should care.

Pay close attention. We’re going to test you on this at the end*

1. Of all the Higgs boson explainers, this Large Hadron Rap is possibly our favourite.

Made by some of the scientists in CERN, it’s got an early ’90s beat in the background, self-aware physicists mocking their own lack of cool, and it’s possibly the only rap ever to include the word ‘anti-particle’. What’s not to love?

2. The rather lovely Professor Brian Cox gave this TED talk where he discussed CERN (the biggest scientific experiment ever attempted). It’s a short but accessible explainer.

Skip to about 7.15 in the video if you want to see him explain how scientists explained what the Higgs boson was to Margaret Thatcher:

3. Scientist Don Lincoln, who works under the US Department of Energy, uses his chubby friend Eddie, swimming pools and a barracuda to explain what the Higgs boson is.

Watch this one if you only have 3 1/2 minutes:

4. “Maybe a few thousand years down the line we’ll find some way of using the Higgs field but not in the immediate future” - Dr. Malcolm Fairbairn from King’s College in London does a good (and quick!) job of explaining why discovering the Higgs boson wouldn’t mean a big change in our every day lives but would be an important step for scientific discovery.

5. To be honest, this video from CERN’s official YouTube channel is about more stuff than just the Higgs boson but it’s so er, amazing that we had to include it.

It looks like a 1980s game show with its cheap set and hilarious graphics – but imagine Going for Gold or Blockbusters if they had been played by particle physicists. It’s THAT good:


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