Professor Cox talks about the Higgs boson. But Conan only understands when he compares it to maple syrup.
CONAN: I love these segments because I actually love to try and learn something.
You were in on and assisted with one of the biggest discoveries in science in recent memory, the Higgs particle.
Is that correct?
PROFESSOR BRIAN COX: Yes.
That's all the time we have.
That's really all I needed to know.
The Higgs particle, I have read about the Higgs particle and I'll be honest, I don't understand what it is.
Can you give us in a sort of Lehman's explanation what it is.
PROFESSOR BRIAN COX: It's the most beautiful, ridiculous story prediction which dates back to 1960 is that sometimes after the universe got to the size of a melon and remember the universe today has got 350 billion galaxies.
It was expanding and cooling.
And something crystallized or condensed out like almost like maple sir up.
It got filled with this stuff as it cooled. And today now we are massive, we are solid because our particles are interacting with that cosmic whatever you want to call it.
CONAN: I love that I asked you to explain it, dumb it down for me.
And you said it was molasses.
But you're saying that all the particles in the universe need to be held together by something and this is the glue if you will that's holding everything together.
PROFESSOR BRIAN COX: In a way you get mass, these particles are solid because they're interacting with themselves except the light because it doesn't interact.
CONAN: I'm fascinated that think on this level.
I've been on this earth a long time.
I think there's a cup.
But you're actually thinking about -- for someone to conceptualize this and then to prove that it exists.
PROFESSOR BRIAN COX: This is a prediction from the 1960's, mathematical prediction.
About 10 years ago we decided to build the biggest scientific experiment underneath Geneva.
We accelerate protons to 99.9999 --
CONAN: You get them spinning around this ring really fast.
PROFESSOR BRIAN COX: We collide together, millions of these every second.
Every collision we create the conditions to a billionth of a second after the big bang.
And we find out this guy from 1965 was right which is I think one of the most remarkable achievements.
CONAN: It's true of Einstein too.
Einstein made predictions he had theoryies that couldn't be proven for many years and later on someone would come along and prove it.
PROFESSOR BRIAN COX: The best Einstein prediction.
We discovered two stars compressed in the size of L.A.
The rotation around each other about once every two days.
One of them is spinning 40 times a second.
The other one is going around once every two second.
Einstein predicts that they fall at seven millimeter as day in 1960.
A few years ago we find this thing.
We do the measurement and we find out it's true.
These things, these stars rotate six millimeters a day.
CONAN: This concerns me.