Look up And Wonder
17th Dec. 2011 :: Hints ot the Higgs

The Large Hadron Collider at CERN was designed with the Higgs Boson in mind. The reason for this was that scientist have known for a long time that discovery of the Higgs particle would change our understanding of the universe forever.

News this week seems to indicate that we may have taken a major step towards making that change in our understanding of physics. Exactly the type of news that fascinates me and that I love to wonder about...

The Higgs particle was proposed by Peter Higgs way back in 1962, just after the first proposal of a "standard model" (in 1960) that attempted to explain the sub-atomic quantum world. As the Standard Model of physics has evolved into an incredible explanatory tool the open slot in the theory that exists for the Higgs has remained unfilled by experimental evidence. The Standard Model in fact, has evolved so far that the Higgs (or the "hole" that exists for it) is the last to be filled. The Higgs (and anything that comes with it) will be the final component in the model.

Even though the Standard Model is the best description we have of the subatomic world, it does not explain the complete picture. The theory incorporates only three out of the four fundamental forces - omitting gravity. There are also important questions it cannot yet answer, such as what is dark matter? and what happened to the missing antimatter that should account for 50% of the universe? However, the door to answers to these questions may just have been pushed ajar!

CERN - Image from GridPP

We now have fascinating news of a tantalising glimpse or the ultra-shy Higgs Particle.

Both of the main detectors at CERN; ATLAS & CMS have uncovered evidence for it's existence. This evidence narrows the "location" of its existence to around 125 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) making it a lightweight particle. This means that will (almost certainly) need additional particles to complete the picture and aid the Higgs in it's important role giving matter (the specific type of energy that appears solid to us) mass. These additional particles could be highly relevant...

Perhaps surprisingly scientist at CERN don't ever expect to "see" the Higgs directly - even once they have claimed it's discovery. The Higgs particle decays so quickly that even the LHC only detects remnants of it in the aftermath of particle collisions. Essentially this means an that scientists are looking for a excess of "remnant" particles in any particular collision with which to directly infer the Higgs and it's properties. Both CMS & ATLAS have seen this excess of remnant particles in the 125 GeV range. The statistical relevance of these observations is around 2.0 sigma (1 in 50) chance of random mathematical fluctuation. The discovery won't be claimed until this relevance is down to 5.0 sigma (1 in 1 million) chance of random fluctuation. (5.0 sigma is about the same level of chance as 20 people all tossing a coin each, and every one coming down heads - I love that image!)

Scientists seem to be quite delighted with this progress and what looks like the the weight of the Higgs. Part of this enthusiasm is the space that it leaves for additional particles. Is this the key - the clue - for further physics beyond the standard model? Is this the doorway to Supersymmetry (SUSY)? Will this explain dark matter? Are there two types Higgs particle? One that connects matter to the Higgs field and one that connects Dark Matter to it's equivalent field? Will there be a non-standard model of Dark Matter physics?

If this really is the Higgs Particle that the CERN scientists are looking at, 2012 should be the year in which its discovery is formerly announced - and what an achievement that will be! After that, it seems that CERN will have opened a new door on the universe and have lined up a lot more discovering yet to come...

Discussions at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Ontario, Canada.

Comments (0)

No comments yet :(

  • Allowed markup: <a> <i> <b> <em> <u> <s> <strong> <code> <pre> <p>
  • All other tags will be stripped, unless they are in a <pre> (use this for blocks of code)
  • External links will have the rel="nofollow" attribute applied
Astronomy Tools and Information

Solar System Planets
Messier Objects
New General Catalogue (NGC) Objects

Most Recent Posts

Epic Ceres Flyover
James Webb Space Telescope has a Dozen Mirrors
Europe planning for humans on the moon by 2030
Solar System 360 Degree Tour
Long Overdue - NASA receives a Budget Boost from Congress
New Horizons Finally Arrives at Pluto
Next Steps to the Moon
One Million SETI Credits
The Transit of Venus June 2012
Solar System Planets
Mars and Venus
The Amazing Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
New Rosette Attempt
Short Timelapse Sunset
New Attempt at Processing NGC2246 with PixInsight
A Cold Night
Another Attempt at M1 and NGC2246
Busy Timelapse Skies
Reprocessed Andromeda Galaxy
Its a Steep Learning Curve ~ M1 and NGC2246
Current Exoplanet Count
Known Planets Multi Planet Systems Candidate Planets
1,930 481 4,696

Currently Popular Astronomy Links

Saturn's D-ring may be raining small ice particles that suck up electrons from the planet's ionosphere.
Dec 12th: The Planets, ICON 2017 & Mars!
European researchers say the Earth's incessant hum originates from the bottom of the ocean.
This week's Astronomy events are worth seeing! Stay tuned: The Moon exits Stage East, Pegasus Perches on High, and the Geminid Meteors Peak at Mid-week!
Dec 11th: Best Modern Sci Fi for the Science Lover – Part 1 Space Exploration
Astronomers to check interstellar body for signs of alien technology
Just because we can light up the night sky like it's noontime, doesn't mean we should.
Trump is signing a directive to send Americans back to the moon
First multimessenger observation of a neutron-star merger is Physics World 2017 Breakthrough of the Year
Mercury transiting the Sun in 2016
$5 Orion starblaster reflector
Dec 10th: Your Space Rock & 16 NEOs
The most prolific and reliable meteor showers of the year, Geminid is almost here
Cigar Galaxy (Messier 82)
Dec 9th: Education and Public Outreach at CTIO in Chile
An exoplanet-hunting space telescope turns and takes a photo of Earth
Kepler discovers a wobbly planet with weird seasons | EarthSky.org
Unseen Terrains On Mercury -: Maps of magnesium to silicon ratios (left) and thermal neutron absorption (right) captured by NASA's MESSENGER mission help identify previously unseen terrains on the planet Mercury.
Dec 8th: Brian Koberlein and “Big Science”
Perseus Double Cluster (NGC 869 and NGC 884)
Great timeline about women in aerospace created by user of TimeGraphics

Get relevant, popular links for your website from Here's A Link
Older Posts

Sky Trails
Another Attempt at Andromeda (M31)
The ExoPlanet Count is Likely to Reach Trillions
Tycho Crater
Moon Mosaic
The Andromeda Galaxy (M31)
The Pleiades (M45)
The Nebulas in Orion
Hints ot the Higgs
Earth HiRes Animation from Nasa
The World Would Be A Better Place If Everyone Watched This Video At Least Once!
Carl Sagan
The Journey Home. More stunning HD Footage from Nasa...
Amazing High Def Video of Jupiter
Sun Mosaic
November Sun
Full Funding Secured for James Webb Space Telescope!
Photographing Jupiter
Save The James Webb Space Telescope Petition
The Nature of Reality ~ Do We Live in Eight Dimensional Phase Space
Juno Launch Update
More Water Evidence Adds to Intrigue Surrounding Mars
Hubble Continues to Amaze with new Pluto Moon Discovery
Is the James Webb Space Telescope Worth It
JWST Program Status July 2011
Dawn Enters Vesta Orbit
Hail to the King ~ Juno, Jupiter and origins of the Solar System
Free NASA Android App
Happy Birthday Neptune
M51 Supernova SN2011dh
M51 And UFOs
NASA Human Space Flight Strategy
Last Flight of the Space Shuttle
Proposed Cancellation of JWST
A Universe Not Made For Us
The Moon
M31 The Andromeda Galaxy
Total Solar Eclipse, Hao Atoll, South Pacific
M42 The Great Nebula in Orion
Jupiter (IO, Ganymede, Europa, Callisto)
M51 The Whirlpool Galaxy
M13 The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules
Sir Patrick Moore
About Me

I am an amateur astronomer; I am interested in science, innovation, astronomy and general musing about philosophies of life, the universe and our place in it.

I love to look up and wonder, and this blog is mostly what results from that wondering.

I also enjoy Paragliding.

All images are copyrighted and owned by me, except where stated, please do not copy or use them unless with permission.

Please feel free to contact me for any reason, the best method is to use this contact form.