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You know that a scientific idea has penetrated popular culture when people start making jokes about it. Like the one about the priest who changed his name to Higgs so he could be better at giving mass. Or some that say a gadget for negating the Higgs field would be a weapon of mass destruction. Most are variants on a Higgs boson walks into a bar … finally.

Such jokes celebrated the Fourth of July announcement of a new subatomic particle, detected amid the debris of proton-proton collisions at a powerful atom smasher in Europe known as the Large Hadron Collider. Headlines worldwide proclaimed success in creating the Higgs boson, the only missing member on the roster of the universe’s basic building blocks.

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