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  • A detector at the Large Hadron Collider

Besides being God’s birthday, the Fourth of July is a big deal this year in that scientists at the Large Hadron Collider are expected to announce that they’ve found evidence of . . . something relating to the Higgs boson, the theoretical particle that may or may not explain existence. It’s been called the “God particle,” actually, though its function is slightly more prosaic than that: the Higgs is the last piece in the standard model, the suite of theories that governs modern particle physics. It’s thought that the Higgs functions to give mass to elementary particles, which—at the big bang—were created without it. New York Times reporter Dennis Overbye is given to calling the Higgs field a “cosmic molasses,” through which all other particles pass and, in the process, get . . . sticky with mass. He’s also compared it to a party full of eager hangers-on, attaching themselves to a celebrity—Christopher Walken, say—as he makes his way through the room.