Neil deGrasse Tyson's favorite science joke will make you smarter

Neil Degrasse Tyson
If you've ever listened to StarTalk radio, then you'll know that its host, famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, definitely has a sense of humor.

His humor was not lost on Business Insider when we asked him in an interview last year about his favorite science joke.

Tyson first heard this joke told by science comedian Brian Malow.Advertisement

Here's how it starts:

"A Higgs boson walks into a church."

If you're unfamiliar with the term "Higgs boson," you might know it by another name: the "God" particle.

(Head's up: No self-respecting scientist would ever call it this.)

To get the joke, you must first understand the Higgs, which is one of the most important particles ever discovered. A Higgs boson is a type of subatomic particle that is about one-hundredth the size of a proton.Advertisement

Scientists used the world's most powerful particle accelerator to see it for the first time in 2012, and their discovery was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics the following year.

This discovery was Nobel-worthy because Higgs bosons come with a special ability: They help give other subatomic particles their mass.

Without the discovery of a Higgs boson, physicists would not understand how particles, like those that make up you, me, and the billions of galaxies in the universe, could exist.Advertisement

Back to the joke, as told to by Tyson:

"Higgs boson walks into a church, and the priest says, 'I'm sorry we don't allow Higgs bosons to come to churches.' And [the Higgs] says, 'But without me, you can't have mass.'"

Just to make sure this joke is politically correct, Tyson mentioned he had tested this joke on a Jesuit priest. "He said it was cool, so that gives us total clearance," Tyson said with a laugh.Advertisement

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