Monetizing the BosonAugust 15, 2012: 5:00 AM ET
An interview with the sexiest superstar in science since Einstein.
FORTUNE – On July 4, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland announced the discovery of a particle that is probably the Higgs Boson, an entity that, it is believed, interacts with the building blocks of the universe to give them mass. Since mass is important, and heretofore unexplained, the Boson immediately became the star of the scientific, intellectual, and business firmament -- probably the biggest celebrity and sex symbol in the field since Einstein. This week Fortune was lucky enough to corner the Boson, who was on his way to the Coast and kindly answered a few questions.
FORTUNE: Hey, first of all, I'd like to thank you for talking to us. I understand that you don't have much time.
HIGGS BOSON: No problemo. Time is relative, y'know. (Cracks up and has a short coughing fit.) Sorry. Joke.
What is a boson, anyway?
It's a kind of particle that allows multiple identical particles to exist in the same place.
Well, that seems to make no sense at all.
It's quantum, babe.
A lot of people want to know why you're so important.
Hey. It's not that hard. If I didn't exist, the entire universe would fly apart.
A lot of narcissistic celebrities and moguls feel that way. What makes you different?
You know how much that Large Hadron Collider cost? Basically, they built it for one reason. To find M-frickin'-E. That must mean something.
Look, for 50 years the scientific community has been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. In the absence of anything either provable or disprovable, there was a lot of crazy science fiction about parallel universes and vibrating strings. Ha! (Another coughing fit, after which he lights a cigarette.) So now they're back on track. The question is, How can I monetize my situation?
I don't see how ...
Are you kidding? Dude, they don't spend more than $10 billion to find something without a payoff.
I suppose not. So what's the plan?
Well, right off the bat, it's not bad to have established residency in Switzerland for tax purposes, although I hear Malta is coming up the ramp.
Yes, but still, I don't see the monetary implications for you personally. I mean, you're just a boson.
I'm not just a boson, bro. I'm the Boson. That has tremendous branding value. Every major scientific discovery produces an industry. Watson and Crick discovered the makeup of DNA in the '50s. Got a huge bestseller out of it. And they spawned the entire gen-tech business, which is now worth a gazillion and still going relatively strong. Think about it. Magnetism. Electricity. Nuclear power. Plastic! I don't plan to be one of those guys who are written about as having been there at the beginning and then missed out on the parade. I'm cashing in, bigtime, and not for pennies on the dollar either.
What actual, real-world developments could come from your ... coming out, so to speak?
Who knows? I'm what makes matter matter! I'm a field while at the same time being a particle! Wrap your mind around that!
I think my head hurts.
Flying cars! Teleportation! Time travel! Who knows? I'm gonna be there, and I'm gonna get me a piece of the π.
One last question. Is there any truth to the rumor that you are seeing the newly divorced Katie Holmes? People are already referring to you two as BossKat.
I got no comment on that, man. (Coughs, and suddenly decays into a number of smaller particles.)
This story is from the August 13, 2012 issue of Fortune.