CERN Finds Evidence of Higgs Boson-Like Particle (What's Next, Star Trek Artificial Gravity?)

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CERN's interpretation of what they expect to see from the decay of a Higgs boson
CERN's interpretation of what they expect to see from the decay of a Higgs boson. [Credit: CERN]

It's the 4th of July and let me tell you, CERN sure does know how to make a bang! This morning in Geneva, Switzerland, CERN announced at a seminar--a precursor to the International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP2012)--that it has found clear signs of a new particle thought to be the Higgs boson--the mass particle.

While the results are still preliminary, they are based on data collected over 2011 and 2012, with the data from 2012 still under analysis. Although the results are preliminary, the data collected by CERN's ATLAS and CMS experiments show strong evidence of its being the Higgs boson. CERN's Joe Incandela says that this is definitely a new particle, that it must be a boson--a type of fundamental subatomic particle--and that it's the heaviest boson ever found.

Now for a little bit of physics-speak: Both the ATLAS and CMS experiments show that the new particle is in the mass region of 125-126 GeV (gigaelectron volts). The Standard Model of particle physics is built upon the electromagnetic, weak, and strong forces. In order for the Standard Model to be valid, the Higgs boson must be in the mass region between 115 and 180 GeV. Since this is definitely a new particle, a boson, and within that range, among other data found by CERN, there is a high probability that this new particle is indeed the long-sought-after Higgs boson.

So what now? CERN will continue to analyze the 2012 data, which is expected to be published around the end of July. Later this year, scientists should get a better grasp of what this particle is after the LHC conducts some more experiments.

According to CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci, the research organization stated last year that it would either "find a new Higgs-like particle or exclude the existence of the Standard Model Higgs" sometime in 2012. If this new particle is verified to be the Higgs boson, the the implications will be significant for our understanding of the mechanisms that run nature and the universe.

Stay tuned to GeekTech and to this article for updates.


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