Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rename the Higgs Boson?

One of the six scientists who helped divine the existence of the Higgs boson, Carl Hagen, is lobbying to rename the now world-famous subatomic particle. It's not just a case of sour grapes either, he has a pretty good point. All together six physicsts working together made roughly equal contributions to developing the theory in the 1960s.

Image: CERN
The "Higgs" boson was a group effort on the part of Robert Brout, Francois Englert, Gerald Guralnik, Carl Hagen, Peter Higgs and Tom Kibble.  The particle that gives all matter its mass got labeled the Higgs boson, because Peter Higgs was the first to present at a conference about it, and the name's stuck for nearly 50 years.

It's unofficial nickname, "The God Particle," may be the least popular nickname in science right now. It appearantly was bestowed upon kind of by accident by Leon Lederman, the nobel laureate at Fermilab. He was writing a book about it, and wanted to call it "The Goddamn Particle," but the publisher balked at the name and shortened it to "The God Particle."

But what to rename it?

The new suggestions so far are... lackluster. One idea is to use an acronym of all of the contributors last names, but there aren't really enough vowels in the bunch to make that pronounceable. Hagen suggested calling it the "Standard Model Scalar Meson" or "SM Squared" for short. Still not very catchy.

We here at PhysicsCentral have come up with our own lineup of suggestions.

1) Change it to an unpronounceable symbol (scientists love symbols) and refer to it as "The Particle Formerly Known as Higgs."

2) Shorten its name simply to "Boson" but only write it in Comic Sans. The people at CERN know why...

3) Name it Todd... Todd is a nice name. Also we can call it the Todd Particle.

4) The Lardon. The Higgs boson gives matter its mass. That's kind of like what too much lard does to my waistline.

5) Put the naming rights up for corporate sponsorship and sell it to the highest bidder. We could have the Pepsi Particle, or the H&R Block Boson. Though if Nabisco bought it, they would probably keep the name the same and release a line of "Higgs Newtons."


  1. How about renaming its definition while your at it - "the particle that adds a tiny bit of missing mass to make a theory complete" since most of the mass comes from binding energies.

  2. I vote for Todd

  3. Why not name it as simplely "Higgs" or "Peter" in honour for the first person who proposed its existence??