Horizon goes behind the scenes at CERN to follow one of the most epic and expensive scientific quests of all time: the search for the Higgs particle, believed to give mass to everything in our universe.
However, the hunt for Higgs is part of a much grander search for how the universe works. It promises to help answer questions like why we exist and is a vital part of a Grand Unified Theory of nature. At the heart of the pursuit of the elusive particle is the same feature that makes snowflakes beautiful and human faces attractive: the simple and enchanting idea of symmetry.
Like other massive particles (e.g. the top quark and W and Z bosons), Higgs bosons created in particle accelerators decay long before they reach any of the detectors. However, the Standard Model precisely predicts the possible modes of decay and their probabilities. This allows events in which a Higgs was created to be identified by examining the decay products.
In the popular media, the particle is sometimes referred to as the God particle, a title generally disliked by the scientific community as a media hyperbole that misleads readers.
Released 9 Jan, 2012. 60 min. Horizon special, TV documentary. Suggested by Shawn.