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Science Nation: Higgs Boson--Mysterious Particle Could Help Unlock Secrets of the Universe

3 minutes

(Describer) Streams of light collide to create a globe filled with water. Title: Science Nation. A structure like a ladder has bars extending from its sides.

[explosion]

(man) Probably the largest scientific instrument that's ever been created.

(male narrator) At the CERN lab in Switzerland, huge tools are needed to detect tiny particles.

(man) The real action happens underground

(Describer) Michael Tuts:

in a cavern attached to this 17-mile-circumference ring. Three thousand physicists working on this huge detector. This detector is 80 feet tall, 140 feet long. So, imagine that.

(narrator) With support from the National Science Foundation, physicists Michael Tuts at Columbia and Kyle Cranmer at New York University are among the 21st-century explorers who have been searching for the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that gives particles like quarks and electrons mass. So tiny, yet where would we be without it?

(Describer) Cranmer:

The universe would be different with no life, no stars.

(narrator) Inside the world's biggest atom smasher, the ATLAS detector works like a huge digital camera, recording the collisions of hundreds of billions of protons at nearly the speed of light.

(Tuts) Our digital camera takes 40 million pictures per second.

(narrator) Thousands of computers, like these at Brookhaven National Lab, filter the images of those collisions, looking for traces of the Higgs boson, which decays quickly.

(Describer) Tuts:

The trick is not so much throwing stuff away but making sure you don't throw away the good stuff.

(narrator) In July 2012, scientists celebrated. We have discovered a boson.

(Tuts) We've seen something, and that something looks like a Higgs boson.

(Cranmer) Now that we have this new particle, we need to measure all of its properties.

(narrator) The elusive Higgs, also known as the "God particle," has captured the imagination of non-scientists. It has its own music video. It's a triumph of human curiosity. It's key to our understanding of the universe.

(narrator) At CERN, the Higgs is only the beginning. More exotic mysteries lie ahead. From figuring out what happened after the big bang to discovering extra dimensions of time and space.

(Describer) A globe turns.

For Science Nation, I'm Miles O'Brien.

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The search for a mysterious subatomic particle can certainly involve some enormous tools, not to mention a multitude of scientists. The Higgs boson is a subatomic particle that gives other particles, such as quarks and electrons, their mass. With support from the National Science Foundation, physicists Michael Tuts at Columbia University and Kyle Cranmer at New York University are among the 21st century explorers who have been on the hunt for the Higgs. Part of the National Science Foundation Series “Science Nation.”

Media Details

Runtime: 3 minutes

Science Nation
Episode 1
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 2
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 3
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 4
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 5
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 6
4 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 7
4 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 8
4 minutes
Grade Level: 9 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 9
4 minutes
Grade Level: 7 - 12
Science Nation
Episode 10
4 minutes
Grade Level: 10 - 12