New Year's Resolutions From a New Particle: An Imagined Message From the Higgs Boson, Personified

This undated image made available by CERN shows a typical candidate event including two high-energy photons whose energy (dep
This undated image made available by CERN shows a typical candidate event including two high-energy photons whose energy (depicted by red towers) is measured in the CMS electromagnetic calorimeter. The yellow lines are the measured tracks of other particles produced in the collision. The pale blue volume shows the CMS crystal calorimeter barrel. To cheers and standing ovations, scientists at the world's biggest atom smasher claimed the discovery of a new subatomic particle Wednesday July 4, 2012, calling it "consistent" with the long-sought Higgs boson — popularly known as the "God particle" — that helps explain what gives all matter in the universe size and shape. (AP Photo/CERN) EDITORIAL USE ONLY - MANDATORY CREDIT -

Did you see my entry for Time's "Person of the Year"? Even though the President won, I was thrilled to be on a list that included Gabby Douglas and the Mars Rover. (The Rover and I particularly appreciate your broad definition of the word "person.")

But I couldn't help noting misconceptions in my bio. Depending how you count, I'm the 17th particle to be discovered. For now you can think of me as the smallest unit Lego block -- not the two joined together that you can eventually pry apart with your teeth, but the little one that gets lost in the carpet until you step on it and screech in agony. In 2013 I will do my part to clear up any confusion that my behavior may have caused.

This past year has been a momentous one for me. Two research groups found hints that something like me might exist. Two even larger research groups found conclusive evidence that something like me does exist.

You people certainly are cautious.

In defense of your caution, admitting my existence means believing that there isn't a single place in the universe that isn't permeated by me. Even "empty space" can no longer be considered, well, empty. This is a lot to swallow, particularly since most of you have never taken quantum mechanics.

Take it from me, the universe is much weirder than you can imagine, particularly if your understanding of physics stopped with building bridges out of toothpicks or dropping balloons off flagpoles. (You should try modern physics - you might like it. You get to say words like "quark" and "boson" and scrawl impressive looking Greek symbols all over long sheets of paper. It is more fun than it looks.)

As the new year approaches, I have decided to do my part to be helpful. These New Year's Resolutions are my gift to humanity:

1) In 2013 I will stop answering to "God Particle" once and for all. It was fun at first, but it turns out to be more trouble than it's worth. I can give some of your subatomic particles mass, but I really can't help you pick the winning lottery numbers. And didn't you people learn statistics?

2) We all know how complicated your lives would become if the Higgs field stopped doing its job and all of your fundamental particles started whizzing around at the speed of light. In 2013, I resolve to not let that happen. You have enough to keep track of, given that humanity hasn't evolved past dropping cell phones in toilets. I will consistently give quarks, some leptons and some bosons mass.

3) I have very little control over how long I exist before decaying or what particles I will decay into in any given instance. But I can promise that when I do pop into existence as a particle in 2013, I will follow the rules of physics and probability and not throw you off my trail. At least through March. Given that you will be upgrading your collider to run at higher energy for a few years, it shouldn't confuse you much if I get creative on April 1st.

4) I will stop my anonymous texts to the Nobel Prize Committee. I understand now that you have a silly little "three person max" rule associated with that prize and I know that there were five theorists who published papers relating to me in 1964 in addition to Peter Higgs. It doesn't help that the research groups obsessed with me have thousands of physicists as authors on their papers and haven't declared me officially discovered. Once 2014 rolls around, though, I'm getting back on the phone. What part of "permeates the universe" is it that you find unimpressive?

5) In 2013 I will stop taking credit for all mass. When you eat the donut and gain that weight I will work to ensure that the gluon fields in your protons get their share of the glory. I don't think that means we need to let them in on the Nobel prize. They've been there and done that.

Best of luck to humanity in 2013 as you continue to try to understand the 96 percent of the universe that doesn't fit in your current theories. Your barbaric method of accelerating particles to near the speed of light, smashing them into each other and trying to piece back together what happened from the resulting mess reeks of desperation, but appears to be fruitful. Your tendency to follow your nose in the direction of elegance and consistency in mathematics is serving you well.