CERN May have Found Higgs BosonThe search may be over: a top researcher at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, otherwise known as CERN, revealed that he expects that a press conference next week will reveal evidence for the elusive god particle found by the Large Hadron Collider.
An Incomplete TheoryPhysicists have long had an accurate model of how particle physics work. This is known as the Standard Model, and there is much evidence to support it. The interactions of particles happen just as the Standard Model would predict. Once problem, though:
Large Hadron Collider
The Higgs BosonThe Higgs Boson particle, commonly referred to by press as the ‘god particle’, is the hypothetical particle that would allow others particles to have mass.
To understand the Higgs Boson, imagine you have a bunch of lint rollers. Some have been used to roll shirts and jackets, others haven’t and are completely clean. the shirts and jackets are the Higgs Boson, while the lint is mass. See, the Higgs Boson is an incredibly massive particle that donates some of it to other particles that interact with it. The longer a particle interacts with the Higgs Boson, the more massive it is.
This is the solution to the problem with the Standard Model, if it is proven. The problem is, the Higgs Boson is also incredibly hard to find.
The SearchThe Higgs Boson will not appear easily. Like all particles, it eventually decays. Unlike most particles, it can only exist when there is lots of energy in one place, like there was immediately following the Big Bang. Outside, possibly, of supernovas, there isn’t any place where the Higgs Boson could still exist.
That is, until CERN started using the Large Hadron Collider.
The LHC accellerates particles to extremely high speeds. When two collide, they hit with the force to temporarily replicate the early universe. This is also how the other fundamental particles were found. As the energy dissipates, the particles that formed in the high energy collision decay, shooting beams of energy that can be detected. Using what you could think of as a giant camera, or maybe as a bowl of jello, the sensors capture the remains of the decaying particle in 3D. By looking at the shape of the decay, scientists can determine what type of particle it was.
The LHC isn’t the first supercollider. Many others have been used in the past. The LHC is, however, the only one that can accelerate particles fast enough to achieve the temperatures at the time immediately after the Big Bang.
Next Weeks’ AnnouncementBecause of the complexity of analyzing the destruction of a particle for evidence of its existence, it will be a while before we can definitively call the Higgs Boson found. But next week CERN is supposed to reveal 10 candidate Higgs Boson decay patterns to the world. With the entire physics world enthralled in the hunt, these few photos will be dissected and discussed by the best and the brightest.
And who knows a few years from now we may have a completed theory of particle physics.