If you talk to a physicist about the recently discovered Higgs boson by referring to it as the ‘God Particle’, you’re almost guaranteed to illicit a wince, a grimace, or in the very least a flash of mild annoyance. The reason being ‘God’ doesn’t exist in the equations of physics and the discovery of Higgs boson has nothing to do with spirituality!
The reason behind its the God particle is that the physicist Leon Lederman referred to the Higgs as the “Goddamn Particle”. The nickname was meant to poke fun at how difficult it was to discover this particle: 40 years and $13.25 Billion.
“The Goddamn Particle” was suppose to be the title of Lederman’s book that came out in the 1990s and was wildly popular for a book about physics. However, his publishers weren’t exactly on board with that phrasing, so the title was changed to “The God Particle.”
Unfortunately the publisher’s version of the nickname stuck, and physicists are not happy about it. Vivek Sharma, a physicist at University of California, San Diego said, “I am not particularly religious, but I find the term an ‘in your face’ affront to those who [are].”
The Higgs boson is the quantum excitation of the Higgs field that is omnipresent in space-time. Through the Higgs mechanism, particles get mass. The fancy nickname of this particle doesn’t even explain a single property of Higgs boson. Instead, a Masson would have been a better name! Agree?