The “God particle”?


A new boson has just been discovered[1]


Hey kids! We’re going to talk about science today.  Did you hear/read on the news there was an important announcement today regarding Particle Physics but could not quite understand what it was all about? Do you know about the Large Hadron Collider but can’t really explain to others what it is being used for? If so, you’re in the right blog, if not, I mean, if you’re one of the 100 thousand “Mr. Know-it-all” out there or you’re really a physics expert then stop reading this post and go on to figure out the mysteries of the Universe elsewhere.


What the fuss is all about


Now, physicists around the world have been looking for a “missing Higgs” for decades. Where is it then? Well, no one has it. They need to discover it although they have already deduced it exists. We’re talking about a particle that gives mass to other particles (matter), commonly referred to as “the God particle”.


Humanity owes the theory from which this particle’s existence has been deduced to a British scientist, Professor Peter Higgs.



So, did they find the so-called “God particle”


The short answer is “not quite” but they seem to be on the right track.  Pauline Gagnon (Quantum Diaries) explains: it is clear a new boson (the collective name given to the particles that carry forces between particles of matter) has just been discovered but it is too early to tell if it is in fact the “missing Higgs”.


How did they come up with this discovery? Two teams operating large multipurpose detectors using signals from the Large Hadron Collider made the discovery and announced it today in a special seminar held in Geneva, Switzerland.  The Large Hadron Collider is reportedly used to collide (or smash together) opposing particle beams.  When they crash an “event” takes place.


Higgs boson
One event with two muons (tracks in red) and two electrons (tracks in green) found by CMS.


Higgs boson
One of the four muon event selected by the ATLAS search. This could be coming from a Higgs boson decaying into four muons shown by the four red lines representing their tracks in the detector. There is no way to tell if this one in particular comes from a Higgs boson or some background event.


This is an important result and should earn Peter Higgs the Nobel Prize. Prof. Stephen Hawking.


It seems the people involved in the announcement are being extra-cautious with their expressions and statements. On the other hand, physics experts are just praising anyone in the teams which made the discovery and calling for accolades to be awarded to Professor Higgs.


Hopefully, after reading this you’ll understand the news better (nor the experiments, neither the theories, you need to read specialized literature for that!). Oh! And if there is something wrong with the information on this post please feel free to leave a comment trashing me, but remember this post serves informative purposes only, and was not intended to be analyzed by experts.

July 4th, 2012.


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