Higgs boson buzz hits new high
Has the Higgs boson finally been detected? It’s almost gotten to the point that if a discovery of some sort doesn’t come out of next week’s update on the multibillion-dollar subatomic search, it’ll be a big surprise. But how far will the announcement go, and what will it mean for the future of physics?
To refresh your memory, the Higgs boson is the only fundamental subatomic particle predicted by theory but not yet detected. It’s thought to play a role in endowing some particles, such as the W and Z boson, with mass … while leaving other particles, such as the photon, massless. The Higgs mechanism, proposed by British physicist Peter Higgs and others in the 1960s, could have played a role in electroweak symmetry breaking, which was a key event in the rise of the universe as we know it.
The Higgs boson is so key to the current understanding of fundamental physics that Nobel-winning scientist Leon Lederman nicknamed it the “God Particle” — a term that has been making other physicists wince ever since. Another religion-tinged cliche would be to call it the “holy grail of particle physics,” as CERN physicist John Ellis has. He says finding the Higgs is a key goal for the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider.
“That’s one thing that we’re really looking forward to with the LHC,” Ellis told me five years ago. “In fact, back when we persuaded the politicians to stump up the money to build the thing, that’s probably what we told them.”
Last December, the teams reported that they saw “tantalizing hints” of the Higgs’ existence at a mass of around 125 billion electron volts, or 125 GeV. But the confidence in those results was not yet high enough to claim a discovery. Now the teams behind the collider’s CMS and ATLAS experiments have collected higher piles of data, at higher energy levels, sparking higher expectations.
once the god particle is found we are then immortal..isnt that the plan?