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CERN | Geneva | Switzerland

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Higgs boson lottery: when CERN plays April Fools jokes

For April first, I wrote that CERN was to give away ten Higgs bosons in a gesture to thank the public for its incredible interest in CERN’s scientific research. About 1500 people eagerly entered the lottery. Most of them wrote very enthusiastic notes, explaining how much they would love one and how much it would mean to them. Many people were not completely fooled but played along just as eagerly.

It was great fun to have a chance to play an April Fools joke that got people all over the world. Entries came from places as diverse as Pakistan, Rwanda, Finland, Canada, Australia, China and Portugal. This shows the incredible interest the Higgs boson has generated on all continents.

I used a random number generator to select the winners who are from Mexico, UK, USA, Belarus (3), Russia (3), Kazakhstan and The Netherlands. Nearly half the entries came from Belarus or Russia, where a popular news agency ran the story. People fell for it even though as everyone knows: “Первого апреля никому не верю!” (On April first, do not trust anyone).

Even some physics students fell for it, so strong was their desire to get their own Higgs boson. Granted, using CERN’s fame is cheating a bit, giving any claim a lot of clout. But many played along: one tried to bribe me with a magnetic monopole, while another promised to feed it only the best particles. Another woman said she already had lots of antimatter and would know how to properly care for a Higgs boson. One physics student said that given the short lifetime of a Higgs boson, he might end up with just two W or Z bosons. One person expressed how great it was for CERN to share. Some asked for a Higgs bosun, bozzon or bison. A guy told me how much this would help him win his girlfriend’s heart as he was about to propose to her. A very disappointed student replied physicists were cruel when he realized it was a joke. But I hope he changed his mind when he found out he was one of the 10 lucky winners.

Custom-made Higgs bosons recently escaped from the Particle Zoo and are on their way to their new home, where all the winners said they would warmly welcome them.

Pauline Gagnon

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4 Responses to “Higgs boson lottery: when CERN plays April Fools jokes”

  1. Lucas Brown says:

    How will we know if we’ve one? By the way loved this joke and some of the responses you got :D

  2. Steven Hansen says:

    It was a fabulous April fools joke enjoyed by all my collegues! Whether we got a cuddly Higgs boson or not! Wonderful stuff…

    • CERN says:

      Glad you had fun too. Many people sent great jokes in return. It was all great fun. And on April Fools, it’s nice to see that people take it very graciously.
      Thank you for letting me know you enjoyed it.

      Pauline

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