Researchers at CERN laboratory in Switzerland announced this week that they believe they have evidence of the existence of the Higgs boson, or Higgs particle. The Higgs boson and the associated Higgs field help to explain, among other things, how particles achieve mass. In 1964 physicist Peter Higgs and five other researchers theorized the Higgs boson. Researchers at CERN have been colliding particles in the Large Hydron Collider to look for the Higgs boson.
The Higgs boson is part of the Standard Model theory, which explains the interactions and characteristics of subatomic particles. Researchers had accounted for the Higgs boson in their Standard Model calculations over the years. In November 2011, a CERN physicist said, “’For our theory to be right, we need the Higgs to exist. If it doesn’t, we need something to replace it.’” The question now appears to be what kind of Higgs boson researchers have observed.
Reading about the Higgs boson announcement reminded me of Professor Lawrence Tribe’s book The Invisible Constitution. The Higgs boson and the United States Constitution don’t at first glance have much in common, but the way Tribe approaches interpreting the Constitution parallels the approach of theoretical physicists in creating models that explain the invisible rules that govern the physical universe. In fact, Tribe himself draws an analogy to physics throughout the book.