House of dreams
From The Economist, March 3, 2012
Physicists rarely become household names. Pretty much anyone watching television in Britain will have heard of Brian Cox who is credited with making physics sexy again. But before him you would probably have to go back a century or so to Albert Einstein, or three centuries to Isaac Newton, to find a name that is universally recognised. One day, though, Peter Higgs and his eponymous boson might outshine them all.
Mr Higgs's road to stardom began with a short, equation-riddled paper published in 1964. In it he predicted the existence of a particle which gives other subatomic species their mass. The challenge Mr Higgs set ultimately led to the construction of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC, illustrated above) the most ambitious—and, at SFr10 billion ($10 billion) the most expensive—scientific experiment in history. It has also sparked a mini-publishing boom of books to explain what all the fuss is about.
In "Higgs Force" Nicholas Mee, a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society with a doctorate in theoretical particle physics from Cambridge University, lays out why the Higgs matters, and what is being done to find it. The LHC smashes together subatomic particles called protons in a 27km underground circular tunnel outside Geneva at within a whisker of the speed of light. Its scientists then study the detritus in cathedral-sized detectors.