The Least Helpful Higgs Boson Explanation, Which is Only Slightly Worse than the Best

This explanation of the whole Higgs Boson thing in the Atlantic at least has the benefit of not pretending to know what’s going on any more than any of the rest of us:

Let me explain to you what the Higgs boson is. 

Just kidding! Nobody can explain to you what the Higgs boson is, because if they try they’ll say things like: The Higgs boson is the particle that imparts mass to the other particles. And if you’re thinking clearly you’ll say: Wait, what does that mean? You mean if the Higgs boson disappeared, then the other particles would exist but wouldn’t have mass? So how could they be particles at all–I mean, how could they be particles in the sense that I think of “particles”? 

The answer to that question, I think, is that particles aren’t really particles in the sense that you and I think of particles. At least, that would explain why physicists sometimes use “particle” interchangeably with “field.” (And as for what a “field” is: It’s like a particle, except different.)

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