What’s all the fuss about the Higgs Boson?

You may remember the recent excitement in the news that the Higgs boson may have been discovered. If you haven’t a clue what a Higgs boson is, here’s one of the SciEnts troupe to explain using two bricks on a rope:

Bascially, the Higgs field permeates the entire universe and makes massive things difficult to move (‘inertia’). The Higgs boson is the excitation of this field which the Large Hadron Collider hopes to find.

Now, the LHC has found two very promising signals which might well be the Higgs. But science is all about ensuring that you’re not falling prey to bias or wishful thinking. So the experiments will be repeated until the signals are pretty much unmistakable (what’s called a ‘5 sigma result’). This will be announced in July 2012, and if the Higgs is finally found, this will be a momentous year in human history.

And there’s plenty of other events of scientific and mathematical interest in 2012 which you could base an event around. On June 6th, Venus will be visible against the sun for a few hours in Alaska and Australia, and another member of the SciEnts troupe, Huw James, is mounting an expedition to record it. In July, the 2012 Olympics are held in London, and many of the troupe offer shows with a sporting or engineering theme. 2012 is also the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing, the father of modern computing and one of the greatest (and most tragic) mathematicians of all time, so you could book one of our maths performers to tell you about him.

And finally, December 21st 2012 is the day on which the 5125-year Mayan ‘long calendar’ runs out. So it’s probably best to book your SciEnts show earlier in the year than this – you know, just in case.