It’s a Boson, Baby
by Perry Michael Simon on July 4, 2012
“As a layman,” CERN Director General Rolf Heuer told a press conference Wednesday, “I would now say, I think we have it. Do you agree?”
Yeah, sure, why not, we’ll agree. They think they discovered the Higgs boson, more or less. Insert qualifying language here.
People who have better knowledge of physics than I (roughly, 80% of the world’s population) can expound on the significance of this moment here. (Use that advanced physics degree to find the comments box below) They’re taking pains to label the results preliminary and say that they’ll provide more data later this year, and the next steps will be aimed at trying to explain more fully whether this is, indeed, the last piece of the particle physics puzzle and an explanation for the makeup of everything, or something else. But this is a moment that’s been eagerly anticipated in the scientific community for, you know, forever.
From the press release:
“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,” said ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti, “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,” said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela. “The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks.”
“It’s hard not to get excited by these results,” said CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci. ” 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. With all the necessary caution, it looks to me that we are at a branching point: 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.”
“We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle’s properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe.”
There’s some 4th of July fireworks for you.