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What gives matter mass?. Mass is a measure of how much matter there is in an object Matter is made of fundamental particles which have a range of very particular masses, but why? And what about photons, which don’t have any mass? In other words, what gives stuff stuff?. [CERN].

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slide2
Mass is a measure of how much matter there is in an object
  • Matter is made of fundamental particles which have a range of very particular masses, but why?
  • And what about photons, which don’t have any mass?
  • In other words, what gives stuff stuff?

[CERN]

slide4
You can tell something has mass because it resists changes in its motion – that’s Newton’s 1st law of motion
  • Mass also gives things weight, the force that acts on anything in a gravitational field
  • Einstein noticed that you can’t tell the difference between these two effects
  • But that still doesn’t explain what actually causes mass

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Albert_Einstein_1947.jpg

slide5
Physicists have a theoretical model that accounts for all the fundamental particles that matter is made from
  • And the forces that act between them (except gravity, which is another story)
  • The theory predicts the existence of a particle that has the job of giving other particles their mass
  • It’s called the Higgs boson, after the Scottish scientist Peter Higgs who proposed its existence over 40 years ago…and scientists are still looking for it!

[CERN]

slide6
Here’s the idea:
    • The universe is full of an invisible field called the Higgs field
    • When matter moves, the field “drags” on it – a bit like a celebrity being slowed down by loads of photographers
    • Particles with bigger mass are affected more than ones with little mass, or to put it another way a particle’s mass is determined by how strongly it interacts with the Higgs field
    • The “dragging” is caused by Higgs bosons

[CERN]

slide7
If the Higgs exists, the LHC experiments should find it
  • We know the range of possible masses for the Higgs, around 200 times the mass of a proton
  • The LHC is the first accelerator that can collide protons with enough energy to create particles this heavy
  • If we don’t find it, it’s back to the drawing board…

[CERN]

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