Higgs Boson Discovered on Doorstep

You don’t need the Large Hadron Collider to discover the Higgs boson after all…

The moment of discovery. It turns out Higgsy is a little shy.
The moment of discovery. It turns out Higgsy is a little shy.

This evening I went outside to investigate a noise. On opening the door I saw a small box lying awkwardly on its side against a flower pot. A little confused (as there was no knock on the door to say there was a delivery), I picked the small package. The box was heavy. I gave it a shake. Something was rolling around in there. It didn’t make a sound.

On opening the box I couldn’t believe my eyes. There he was, hiding under styrofoam packaging, neatly wrapped in a clear plastic bag, the one particle EVERYONE wants to meet… the Higgs boson!

Far from being smug, the little guy was actually pretty shy and was reluctant to leave the comfort of his box. After a brief chat I assured him that he was safe from particle physicists wanting to see him spontaneously decay…

As you might have guessed, I didn’t discover a real Higgs particle on my doorstep (although we all know that it must be full of them… theoretically anyhow). My Higgs boson plushie has just travelled from the caring hands of its creator, Particle Zookeeper Julie Peasley…

With his hiding place compromised, the Higgs boson burst out of his box and ran for cover...
With his hiding place compromised, the Higgs boson burst out of his box and ran for cover...

Thinking about it, this is probably the first time I have ever received a toy plushie through the post. I usually buy CDs, DVDs, books, games and gifts for other people via the Internet, but this time, for the first time, a small (yet heavy) particle from the Particle Zoo touched down on my doorstep. The Higgs particle I received came complete with a little chart of all the plushie particles in the Standard Model and a little tag telling me what the wonderfully crafted particle was all about. The Higgs boson (like the rest of the “heavy” particles) is part-filled with gravel to simulate its large rest-mass, so Higgsy also doubles up as quite a formidable weapon!

Ever since writing about the Particle Zoo in September, I’ve been fascinated by how the personification of a subatomic particle can work so well. Each of Julie Peasley’s particle creations have a little personality based on their quantum values, and I was especially drawn to the Higgs boson that is described as being a “snob” and that he was playing “hard to get.” After all, if a €6 billion machine has been built just to find you, you might become a little egotistical too.

But I don’t have to build a huge particle accelerator to discover this little guy. He arrived at my doorstep from the Particle Zoo’s Standard Model of particles. All that’s needed is a menu of subatomic particles, a box and a postal service, and you can discover your own Higgs boson for $9.75 (+ shipping)

Coming soon: The Higgs particle review!

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