confirming the likely existence of the Higgs boson is immediately below. I have added images.
Following, there is a more complete explanation from Science News, including information I did no know. For example, I did not know that the Higgs appears at the temperature when the electroweak symmetry breaks. The Higgs is worth some effort to catch its outline. Ir is hard to see it's relevance for South Yemen.
Here is Brian Greene, my choice for president, or for anything else he wants, so high is my respect for him.
Brian Greene Reacts to Today’s CERN Announcement
Earlier this morning, CERN made a much-anticipated announcement about its progress in finding the elusive Higgs particle. Below, Brian Greene explains the significance of the news.
Here’s a summary of today’s announcement: The Large Hadron Collider (a 17-mile-long circular tunnel in which protons are sent whizzing around in opposite directions at just shy of light-speed,
and directed into head-on collisions) has two mammoth detectors called ATLAS and CMS (each of which captures and analyzes particulate debris created by the proton–proton collisions). Two independent (and highly competitive) research teams, involving thousands of scientists, using each of these detectors have seen moderately convincing evidence that the elusive Higgs particle has been created in some of the proton–proton collisions.
This is a challenging experiment as the detectors can’t see the Higgs particle directly—it is a short-lived particle that quickly falls apart (decays)—but, rather, they infer its presence by seeing its decay products.
(Watch here, as physicist and ATLAS researcher Monica Dunford explains this process of inferring new possible particles during the World Science Festival.)
In particular, the equations show that when a Higgs particle decays, some fraction of the time two photons (particles of light) are produced. The researchers sift through a maelstrom of debris for these photons, but even then they need to ensure that the photons weren’t produced by some other, more mundane process. This painstaking work, aided by sophisticated computer analysis,
now shows evidence of a Higgs particle that weighs about 126 times as much as a proton.
The researchers’ confidence in this result, while fairly strong, does not yet rise to the level at which a definitive discovery is claimed (there’s roughly a chance of a few in a thousand that the data is a statistical fluke, sort of like the chance of getting 8 to 9 heads in a row when you flip a coin;
I'm not convinced. And because I'm not convinced, there's only one way to decide this. I'm flipping a coin. Spain is heads and Netherlands is tails. My decision rubric is this:
The Spanish are heads because Puyol scored a header goal to put them into the finals.
The protocol for claiming a definitive discovery is more like 1 in a million, similar to getting heads about 20 times in a row). But within the next few months, or surely within the next year, the teams should know whether or not they’ve found the Higgs particle.
For some background, here’s a short piece (about a minute long) I filmed giving an explanation of the Higgs idea—take a look if you have a moment. In the video, when I refer to a “molasses-like substance” that’s a metaphor for the “Higgs field”; the Higgs particle would be a tiny nugget of that field which the violent particle collisions at the Large Hadron Collider may have, roughly speaking, knocked loose.
Here are exerts from the New York Times announcement of the almost-discovery:
July 4, 2012Physicists Find Elusive Particle Seen as Key to UniverseBy DENNIS OVERBYEASPEN, Colo. — Signaling a likely end to one of the longest, most expensive searches in the history of science, physicists said Wednesday that they had discovered a new subatomic particle that looks for all the world like the Higgs boson, a key to understanding why there is diversity and life in the universe.Like Omar Sharif
materializing out of the shimmering desert as a man on a camel in “Lawrence of Arabia,”
the elusive boson has been coming slowly into view since last winter, as the first signals of its existence grew until they practically jumped off the chart.“I think we have it,” said Rolf-Dieter Heuer, the director general of CERN, the multinational research center headquartered in Geneva. The agency is home to the Large Hadron Collider, the immense particle accelerator that produced the new data by colliding protons. The findings were announced by two separate teams. Dr. Heuer called the discovery “a historic milestone.”He and others said that it was too soon to know for sure, however, whether the new particle is the one predicted by the Standard Model, the theory that has ruled physics for the last half-century. The particle is predicted to imbue elementary particles with mass. It may be an impostor as yet unknown to physics, perhaps the first of many particles yet to be discovered.That possibility is particularly exciting to physicists, as it could point the way to new, deeper ideas, beyond the Standard Model, about the nature of reality.For now, some physicists are simply calling it a “Higgslike” particle.“It’s something that may, in the end, be one of the biggest observations of any new phenomena in our field in the last 30 or 40 years,” said Joe Incandela, a physicist of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a spokesman for one of the two groups reporting new data on Wednesday.
Here at the Aspen Center for Physics, a retreat for scientists, bleary-eyed physicists drank Champagne in the wee hours as word arrived via Webcast from CERN.
It was a scene duplicated in Melbourne, Australia, where physicists had gathered for a major conference, as well as in Los Angeles, Chicago, Princeton, New York, London and beyond — everywhere that members of a curious species have dedicated their lives and fortunes to the search for their origins in a dark universe.
In Geneva, 1,000 people stood in line all night to get into an auditorium at CERN, where some attendees noted a rock-concert ambience.
Peter Higgs, the University of Edinburgh theorist for whom the boson is named, entered the meeting to a sustained ovation.
Here's Peter Higgs in the 1960s, when he and others
first proposed the idea of a "field" that would explain particle mass
Confirmation of the Higgs boson or something very much like it would constitute a rendezvous with destiny for a generation of physicists who have believed in the boson for half a century without ever seeing it. The finding affirms a grand view of a universe described by simple and elegant and symmetrical laws — but one in which everything interesting, like ourselves, results from flaws or breaks in that symmetry.According to the Standard Model, the Higgs boson is the only manifestation of an invisible force field, a cosmic molasses that permeates space and imbues elementary particles with mass. Particles wading through the field gain heft the way a bill going through Congress attracts riders and amendments, becoming ever more ponderous.Without the Higgs field, as it is known, or something like it, all elementary forms of matter would zoom around at the speed of light, flowing through our hands like moonlight. There would be neither atoms nor life.Physicists said that they would probably be studying the new particle for years. Any deviations from the simplest version predicted by current theory — and there are hints of some already — could begin to answer questions left hanging by the Standard Model. For example, what is the dark matter that provides the gravitational scaffolding of galaxies?And why is the universe made of matter instead of antimatter?“If the boson really is not acting standard, then that will imply that there is more to the story — more particles, maybe more forces around the corner,” Neal Weiner, a theorist at New York University, wrote in an e-mail. “What that would be is anyone’s guess at the moment.”Wednesday’s announcement was also an impressive opening act for the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s biggest physics machine, which cost $10 billion to build and began operating only two years ago. It is still running at only half-power.Physicists had been icing the Champagne ever since last December. Two teams of about 3,000 physicists each — one named Atlas, led by Fabiola Gianotti, and the other CMS, led by Dr. Incandela — operate giant detectors in the collider, sorting the debris from the primordial fireballs left after proton collisions.Last winter, they both reported hints of the same particle. They were not able, however, to rule out the possibility that it was a statistical fluke. Since then, the collider has more than doubled the number of collisions it has recorded.The results announced Wednesday capped two weeks of feverish speculation and Internet buzz as the physicists, who had been sworn to secrecy, did a breakneck analysis of about 800 trillion proton-proton collisions over the last two years.• • •Gerald Guralnik, one of the founders of the Higgs theory, said he was glad to be at a physics meeting “where there is applause, like a football game.”Asked to comment after the announcements, Dr. Higgs seemed overwhelmed. “For me, it’s really an incredible thing that’s happened in my lifetime,” he said.One implication of their theory was that this cosmic molasses, normally invisible, would produce its own quantum particle if hit hard enough with the right amount of energy. The particle would be fragile and fall apart within a millionth of a second in a dozen possible ways, depending upon its own mass.•• • •Finding the missing boson was one of the main goals of the Large Hadron Collider. Both Dr. Heuer and Dr. Gianotti said they had not expected the search to succeed so quickly.• • •So far, the physicists admit, they know little about their new boson. The CERN results are mostly based on measurements of two or three of the dozen different ways, or “channels,” by which a Higgs boson could be produced and then decay.There are hints, but only hints so far, that some of the channels are overproducing the boson while others might be underproducing it, clues that maybe there is more at work here than the Standard Model would predict.
ScienceNews July 4, 2012“This could be the first in a ring of discoveries,” said Guido Tonelli of CERN.In an e-mail, Maria Spiropulu, a professor at the California Institute of Technology who works with the CMS team of physicists, said: “I personally do not want it to be standard model anything — I don’t want it to be simple or symmetric or as predicted. I want us all to have been dealt a complex hand that will send me (and all of us) in a (good) loop for a long time.”Nima Arkani-Hamed, a physicist at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, said: “It’s a triumphant day for fundamental physics. Now some fun begins.”