Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Dear all

Yesterday night my daughter who is in class 6 called me and asked about the God particle. It was very difficult to explain to her as at that age the knowledge of particle physics is far off. This is excerpts from the mail that I sent her, from what i understand from  the 4th July CERN announcement; Do read it out to your child if of the same age group:

From studying physics you know that the 118 elements in the periodic table like Hydrogen, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Hydrogen etc  is made up of atoms which has a mass, and hence weight, and it can move. These properties of atoms are measurable and quantified and hence we believe that it exists even though we can’t see them with our eyes. These small balls of one element say like oxygen can join or form a bond  with another element like hydrogen and can change into  a different substance or a bigger ball  like water . This bigger ball of water  we call as water molecule. Thus we have all the elements in the universe joining with each other elements forming big balls or molecules of many things that we see and use whether it is your table salt or chalk powder.
However  if we start taking a molecule, say that of water, we know that it is made of the bonding or mixing up of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. Now if we want to break this bonding, we can mix water molecules   with the molecule of, say, calcium carbonate which is nothing but your chalk. These molecules react to each other and one of the elements say hydrogen atom escapes out in its original gas form.
From the above we know that the materials and substances that we see and use in our daily life are made up of molecules which are made of a combination of many atoms of the elements. However, scientist by their experiments have found and proved that the atoms can also be divided and inside an atom there is another small ball called the nucleus (which has protons and neutrons. Protons are positively charged  and neutron have no charge) which is surrounded by negatively charged particles called electrons. They also found that the nucleus can further be broken into protons and neutrons. The components of an atom -  electrons, protons and neutrons are called as sub  atomic particles. Scientists also found that sub-atomic particles posses energy in them, and this energy cannot be seen but experienced like the heat energy and electric energy. We know that that the electricity which gives us light and makes our machines work are coming from these subatomic particles.
So how does a particle like an electron or a proton give energy? Scientists in particularly Albert Einstein found that the matter or mass which is seen and experienced as a particle is created from a large amount of energy. And by breaking these particles, the mass in it can be converted back to energy. So they developed machines called accelerators which will shoot one particle like a gun into another particle and break it into energy. This reaction was termed as nuclear reaction. While doing such experiments, the scientists found that while breaking the smaller particles of protons and electrons, along with the formation of energy, there are many other still smaller particles  formed which they named as quarks.
Quark is an elementary particle which matter is made of. Quarks combine to form composite particles called hadrons, the most stable of which are protons and neutrons, the components of atomic nuclei. Due to a phenomenon known as color confinement, quarks are never directly observed or found in isolation; they can only be found within baryons or mesons. Mesons are hadronic subatomic particles composed of one quark and one antiquark, bound together by the strong interaction.
An Indian scientist called Satyendranath Bose found that it is a mistake to presume that all such sub atomic particles have mass which can be converted to energy, but there are some other type of particles which exists as an energy field  but is a cause for providing a mass to other particles. He wrote about this to Einstein and he agreed to this thought and those imaginary particles were called Bosons to honour Bose. Later a scientist named Peter Higgs in 1954 found that among many bosons there is a type of boson which is the most elementary particle existing in an energy state which was named as Higgs field. Thus the Boson- Higgs  particle was considered as the basic element which gave matter its mass from an energy state and hence resulted in creation of the matter and hence the Universe.  Later a person called Leon Lederman wrote a book on Higgs Boson and named it God Particle which became popular.
The European Organisation of Nuclear research called CERN headquartered in Geneva in Switzerland announced on 4th July that the bosons which was till now only theoretically known was discovered in the accelerator .
The significance of the god particle was first postulated by our old Rishis in the Sankhya philosophy. This philosophical thought mentions about Prakriti (Mass/Universe ) and Purusha(Energy State/ Consciousness )  as the basis of the universe. The Prakriti is according to them was formed from the Purusha through a  basic element called as thanmatra, which we today discovered as Boson- Higgs Particle.

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