CERN says newly discovered particle is consistent with Higgs boson

By on July 4, 2012, 1:30 PM

Scientists announced today that the Higgs boson -- or a new subatomic particle like it -- appears to indeed be real. The hunt for the Higgs boson has been an intense one, for its absence could have single-handedly destroyed whatever certainty scientists had about our current descriptions of the Universe's inner-workings. 

The Higgs boson (sensationally referred to as the "God particle" by some) is a subatomic particle which is thought to give everything in the universe its mass. Mass is a physical property which gives matter its weight here on Earth and other bodies which exert gravity.

In order to confirm our observations and validate descriptions of our how physicists believe our reality works, many scientists think mass is the result of a field (i.e. Higgs field) which permeates our Universe. The various subatomic particles which make up our existence drag through this field, creating mass. According to some models, the Higgs is a necessary component to this field so there is a lot riding on the discovery of this particle.

It is important to note that scientists technically still aren't absolutely sure the Higgs (or a particle like it) exists -- they are only 99.99999999999 percent certain. That's about as close to certain as one can get, right? There's also no guarantee this is the Higgs and not some exotic, never-before-seen particle with a similar mass.

"We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV. The outstanding performance of the LHC and ATLAS and the huge efforts of many people have brought us to this exciting stage, but a little more time is needed to prepare these results for publication. The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found,"

Source: mpg.de

Such tiny particles are often not directly observable, are extremely fleeting and require very special circumstances to both appear and be detected. Under very exact conditions, particles like the Higgs boson only become palpable in our reality for the tiniest fractions of a second, so scientists often use indirect methods of observation. They measure the energies produced during particle collisions, the byproducts of the collision and other data collected by collision detectors, ultimately allowing scientists to piece together the larger puzzle. Naturally, there's some room for uncertainty but it seems scientists are very, very sure about this one.

Needless to say, Peter Higgs - the British physicist who originally pondered the existence of a mass-inducing field - was also very excited today.

The next step will be to determine the properties of the newly-found boson. Was it actually the Higgs or merely an exotic particle with similar mass? Only more collisions, research and analysis will tell us for sure.

Almost everything you'd want to know about the Higgs, in simple English. The good stuff starts 45 secs in.




User Comments: 23

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amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

If humankind can let go of its greed and quest for fictional power, we are capable of exuberant achievements. While our technology is still primitive, it is a start.

(Amazingly, previous wars and our competitive nature have been largely responsible for some/much of our weapons/technological knowledge.)

I hope, that within the next few generations, the creation of a real starship is something mankind pursues. It may seem like with our most advanced technology its kind of possible now but I think we need to get farther ahead on many things before we try it.

Ok enough of my useless 2 cents!

MrBungle said:

(Amazingly, previous wars and our competitive nature have been largely responsible for some/much of our weapons/technological knowledge.)

I hope, that within the next few generations, the creation of a real starship is something mankind pursues. It may seem like with our most advanced technology its kind of possible now but I think we need to get farther ahead on many things before we try it.

Ok enough of my useless 2 cents!

a space based weapons race would make that happen faster than any other way.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

a space based weapons race would make that happen faster than any other way.

Nope. Warfare will always be a very close second to corporate and commercial interests when it comes to advances in technology. Where there's money to be made, there's always swift progress. A weapons race just creates the opportunity.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I hope, that within the next few generations, the creation of a real starship is something mankind pursues. It may seem like with our most advanced technology its kind of possible now but I think we need to get farther ahead on many things before we try it.

Sadly, the first real starship that mankind make will undoubtedly look pathetic compared to something out of Star Trek and other fiction which we all associate the word 'starship' with. Never the less I can't wait for the day it happens.

Guest said:

more like out of firefly...

1 person liked this | gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

a space based weapons race would make that happen faster than any other way.

Nope. Warfare will always be a very close second to corporate and commercial interests when it comes to advances in technology. Where there's money to be made, there's always swift progress. A weapons race just creates the opportunity.

Plenty of room for differing opinions on this subject, I for one would disagree, military applications have historically been far more influential. Greed factors into is as far as the military/gov't is always ready to throw far more resources at something than the private sector. And the military has been around for thousands of years, corporations only for a few hundred, and that's by the broadest of definitions.

We can spend centuries tinkering about with spaceships, but if we actually had contact with an alien civilization, we'd probably be up and running within a decade, not out of a desire to make money or to explore the cosmos, but to kill the alien or avoid being killed by him. The need to stay alive is a far more potent motivating factor than corporate greed, always has been.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

Plenty of room for differing opinions on this subject, I for one would disagree, military applications have historically been far more influential. Greed factors into is as far as the military/gov't is always ready to throw far more resources at something than the private sector. And the military has been around for thousands of years, corporations only for a few hundred, and that's by the broadest of definitions.

We can spend centuries tinkering about with spaceships, but if we actually had contact with an alien civilization, we'd probably be up and running within a decade, not out of a desire to make money or to explore the cosmos, but to kill the alien or avoid being killed by him. The need to stay alive is a far more potent motivating factor than corporate greed, always has been.

This is more or less what I'm getting at. To my knowledge (which, admittedly, is very limited on the subject matter), a significant portion of military R&D spending goes towards paying contractors from the private sector to develop the technologies for combat/defense applications. Boeing comes to mind as an example. In essence, the military creates the demand (opportunity), private interests supply the necessary resources... For a price.

Spot on with the survival comment, by the way.

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

If humankind can let go of its greed and quest for fictional power, we are capable of exuberant achievements. While our technology is still primitive, it is a start.

(Amazingly, previous wars and our competitive nature have been largely responsible for some/much of our weapons/technological knowledge.)

I hope, that within the next few generations, the creation of a real starship is something mankind pursues. It may seem like with our most advanced technology its kind of possible now but I think we need to get farther ahead on many things before we try it.

Ok enough of my useless 2 cents!

Arrogant statement of the month, right there. Saying all of humankind is greedy and after power, and our technology is the most advanced for lightyears around, but it's still primitive (Those CERN guys might disagree too). I hope when our future generations look back at history they see Amstech as the start of humanity's golden age.

Can't we just say nice job scientists and look forward to what we'll learn now that this has been found? Maybe the start of a unified theory or something greater, like discovering what caused the big bang...

No, we gotta talk about greed and war... How depressing.

Guest said:

"If humankind can let go of its greed and quest for fictional power, we are capable of exuberant achievements. While our technology is still primitive, it is a start."

We are still monkeys with tools.

Guest said:

like discovering what caused the big bang...

How do you discover what caused a theory that denies proven Scientific law?

sensationally referred to as the "God particle" by some

Scientists will call this whatever they want regardless of what it is or isn't. Their main objective is to 'prove' the evolution lie and to discredit the reality of God...as if that could be done.

1 person liked this | davislane1 davislane1 said:

Scientists will call this whatever they want regardless of what it is or isn't. Their main objective is to 'prove' the evolution lie and to discredit the reality of God...as if that could be done.

If this post were any more cliched I'd easily mistake it for a bad joke... Firstly, the main objective of discovering the HB particle is to expand our knowledge of the universe and its inner workings. Evolution isn't even relavant. Secondly, and more importantly, the discovery of the HB has about as many theological implications as the discovery of water on Mars. If you're going to troll websites to alleviate your anxiety of science, please do so on YouTube where these half-baked Atheism vs. Theism arguments already run rampant.

That being said, I am curious as to the real-world implications of this discovery. I understand the implications for theoretical physics may be quite profound, but I'm completely ignorant of what this may mean for the rest of us moving forward. Anyone who can provide some insight or links on the matter would be great.

ikesmasher said:

I have absolutely no experience in this type of thing, so heres a question.

Is the HB a single particle creating the field, or is there a near infinite amount of them creating the field?

mosu said:

They are joking, right?

jeffz6 said:

Potenial? This is a wight loss dream. Fire up the higgs bossom ray and take some weight of our higgs bottom.

1 person liked this | dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

We can spend centuries tinkering about with spaceships, but if we actually had contact with an alien civilization, we'd probably be up and running within a decade

Possible from a theoretical PoV, but I'd assume that it would be the aliens that found us. Assuming an intelligence capable of interstellar travel, would be dumb enough to give an emerging species (us) the tools to make us competitive with them?

The need to stay alive is a far more potent motivating factor than corporate greed, always has been.

Could be a case of mix-and-match. A corporate sponsored alien spaceship zapping around would make the Goodyear blimp look pretty lame. Hopefully we don't end up with Zaphod Beeblebrox shilling for Head & Shoulders.

Guest said:

more wasteful expenditure *sigh"*

do we have flying cars ? no

do we have a base on the moon ? no

do we have renewable energy ? no

do we waste money on unjust wars ? yes

are millions of people of people starving ? yes

do we have "modern lifestyle" pooh invading PC games ? yes

Now I ask with tears in my eyes what is / was the bloody point. We have achieved f-all since landing on the moon - and NO your dumb Apple product does not constitute any degree of human advancement. It does point to corporate capitalist thuggery though.

DanUK DanUK said:

Arrogant statement of the month, right there. Saying all of humankind is greedy and after power, and our technology is the most advanced for lightyears around, but it's still primitive (Those CERN guys might disagree too). I hope when our future generations look back at history they see Amstech as the start of humanity's golden age.

Can't we just say nice job scientists and look forward to what we'll learn now that this has been found? Maybe the start of a unified theory or something greater, like discovering what caused the big bang...

No, we gotta talk about greed and war... How depressing.

+1!

What a fantastic achievement, the culmination of 60 odd years of hard work and research. I'm eagerly awaiting some more insight into what this particle is (either the Higgs or something completely new - both exciting outcomes). If it isn't the Higgs then they're fast running out of possible mass ranges to search in.

Also have to whole-heartedly agree with Davislane1's response to religious-guest troll. I think you'll find Mr Guest, that hardly any scientists refer to this as the "God Particle", and it was originally called this not for an attack on religion, but because the particle is "so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our final understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive".

MilwaukeeMike said:

I am curious as to the real-world implications of this discovery. I understand the implications for theoretical physics may be quite profound, but I'm completely ignorant of what this may mean for the rest of us moving forward. Anyone who can provide some insight or links on the matter would be great.

Who knows. And I don't mean that sarcastically. The electron was discovered in 1897 and today computers run almost every part of our life. Is the Higgs Boson as big a discovery as the electron? I have no idea... but it's possible that it may lead to things as unimaginable to us today as a smartphone using the internet would have been to someone in 1897.

I think it's more of a relief than anything else. They built this $100-and-some million dollar machine to find something that all their math said should exist. It's a good thing they found it.

DanUK DanUK said:

If we're gonna go there.. it's actually close to a $10bn budget :X So yeah, good to get some results!

1 person liked this | gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

LOL, its funny to think that this advancement or any other so far could be used to prove or disprove the existence of God. While scientists may argue about what happened 1x10-25 second from the Big Bang, they are pretty united in the fact they have no idea what caused the Big Bang to occur. There are tons of theories, some more outlandish than others.

But whether you sleep at night better knowing there is, or isn't a God, until you get into what happened before the Big Bang, both theories are equally viable.

---agissi--- ---agissi---, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Awesome news post!!! Thank you, I thoroughly enjoyed that.

TJGeezer said:

like discovering what caused the big bang...

How do you discover what caused a theory that denies proven Scientific law?

sensationally referred to as the "God particle" by some

Scientists will call this whatever they want regardless of what it is or isn't. Their main objective is to 'prove' the evolution lie and to discredit the reality of God...as if that could be done.

LOL "the evolution lie" ha ha - nice troll! Yeah, how 'bout them scientist types, only interested in useless stuff like facts and evidence and reality. Stupid scientists.

wiyosaya said:

Well, the level of certainty is "only" five sigma as quoted in the article. That means that they are 99.99999 percent certain not 99.99999999999 percent certain. LOL

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