How Close Was The Simpsons To Figuring Out the Mass of the Higgs Boson?

Illustration for article titled How Close Was The Simpsons To Figuring Out the Mass of the Higgs Boson?

Given the time it happened and, you know, that he's a cartoon, the answer is that Homer Simpson did come pretty close to figuring out the mass of the Higgs Boson before scientists did.


Screencap from Springfield! Springfield!

This is from the episode "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace," which aired on September 20, 1998. The episode has Homer realizing that his life's half over and he hasn't accomplished anything. In order to fix it, he tries to emulate his hero (for this episode) Thomas Edison.

One of the scenes in the episode has Homer working at a chalkboard with an equation trying to figure out the mass of the Higgs Boson. While Simon Singh, author The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, tells The Independent that Homer got pretty close:

If you work it out, you get the mass of a Higgs boson that's only a bit larger than the nano-mass of a Higgs boson actually is. It's kind of amazing as Homer makes this prediction 14 years before it was discovered

David Kaplan, particle physicist at John Hopkins University, tells the Los Angeles Times that the result of Homer's calculation is 777 gigaelectronvolts (GeV.) Which is a bit off from the number the team at the Large Hadron Collider eventually found: around 125 GeV.

Given that Homer made his guess 17 years ago, it's not that bad. Even if the scientists alrady knew at the time that the mass had to be lower than 777 GeV. And Kaplan also tells the Los Angeles Times that Homer was almost even closer:

The final term in Homer's equation is the square root of "hc" divided by "G." Presumably, "G" is the universal gravitational constant, "c" is the speed of light, and "h" is Planck's constant. If Homer had used a variant called the reduced Planck's constant (which divides "h" by 2 pi), the answer to the equation would have been about 310 GeV, Kaplan said.

Homer would have done even better if he hadn't made pi the first term in his equation, Kaplan added. Without it, he'd have had "a nice guess of 99 GeV, which would not have been too shabby," he said.


It's always nice to see that the people making our entertainment aren't just making up gibberish and that they're actually doing some legwork. Remember, there are even jokes that can make you smarter. Although, in universe, it's a little upsetting to realize that Homer could do this with just a bit of inspiration and effort.


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i love that Simpsons and Futurama throwaway jokes are more scientifically accurate than entire seasons or franchises of forensic tv shows like CSI or NCIS