After years of searching for Higgs boson, or the "God particle", which is presumed to endow all matter with mass, scientists have discovered a new particle, consistent with the elusive Higgs boson.
The discovery was announced July 4 at a seminar held at CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, near Geneva, Switzerland, based on the latest preliminary results from ATLAS and CMS experiments.
The ATLAS and CMS are two large experiments being conducted at CERN's atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC, which recreates a "Big Bang", namely the conditions that existed early in the evolution of the universe on a microscale.
The LHC, the world's most powerful particle accelerator, built at a cost of around 2.6 billion pounds, was commissioned in 2008. Beams of protons or lead ions approaching the speed of light are circulated in the LHC and made to collide head-on. The particles created in the collisions are analyzed using special detectors. Scientists believe that the resulting events caused by the high-energy collisions will help to understand the mass of fundamental particles.
Higgs boson, has been the missing piece in the Standard Model of particle physics, a theory used by physicists to explain and calculate a vast variety of particle interactions and quantum phenomena.
The existence of boson, the key to the origin of particle mass, was suggested by Professor Peter Higgs in 1964. The history of the 'Higgs boson hunt' dates back to 1989 at CERN's Large Electron-Positron, or LEP, collider, which was commissioned in 1989. LEP was closed down on November 2, 2000 to make way for the construction of the LHC. In March 2001, the location of search for Higgs boson was shifted to Chicago-based Fermilab's Tevatron Collider, which was operational till September 2011.
After more than 10 years of gathering and analyzing data, on Monday (July 2), the Tevatron team announced that they see strong indications of the production and decay of Higgs bosons. The Tevatron results indicated that the Higgs particle, if it exists, has a mass between 115 and 135 GeV/c2, or about 130 times the mass of the proton.
The new particle observed in the LHC is in the mass region around 125-126 GeV. Even though the results are preliminary, with the 2012 data still under analysis, it's hard not to get excited by the results since the new particle has been observed at the level of 5 sigma signal. After all, a 5-sigma result indicates a 99.99995 percent chance that the result can be reproduced and can survive the test of time.
CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci said, "We stated last year that in 2012 we would either find a new Higgs-like particle or exclude the existence of the Standard Model Higgs. The observation of this new particle indicates the path for the future towards a more detailed understanding of what we're seeing in the data."
CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela noted, "What we are observing is very likely a new particle with very large mass that would have to be a boson."
According to the scientists, the next step will be to determine the precise nature of the newly discovered particle and find out if it is a Standard Model Higgs or a variant that indicates new physics and other new particles.
A more complete picture of the new particle, which has been found to be consistent with long-sought Higgs boson, is expected to emerge later this year after the LHC provides more data. Stay tuned!
by RTT Staff Writer
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