It’s universally agreed that the discovery this week of the Higgs boson particle is a really, really big deal, though only a really, really small number of people can explain why. I am not one of those people. Far from it. In fact, when I first heard the term “Higgs boson,” I thought it sounded more like the name of a new breed of designer dog.
I imagine the Higgs boson would be a very small dog. Highly excitable and prone to racing in circles and colliding with other dogs, the Higgs would, for decades, evade an international team of dog-whispering physicists led by Chad Orzel, author of How to Teach Physics to Your Dog. Following its eventual capture in Switzerland, the Higgs would be recognized as one of the standard breeds from which all others are modeled. Yet, despite its headline-grabbing potential, the breed would pose some formidable challenges in the show ring, requiring a nimble handler with excellent vision and an infinite tolerance for ambiguity. A Higgs would likewise seem to have limited appeal as a family pet, owing to the breed’s fundamental instability, the exorbitant expense of procuring one, and the difficulty of training a dog believed to have a God complex.
No, I’m probably not cut out for a Higgs boson. I have my hands full with my simple dog, whose behavior regularly confounds me.