We've Probably Found the Higgs BosonSo, CERN is holding a press conference on the 4th. Rumor is, they'll be announcing the discovery of the Higgs boson with a 99.99% certainty. Now, just 2 days before the announcement, Tevatron scientists are revealing their findings on the Higgs in an apparent effort to one-up the world's most powerful particle accelerator. To me that competition alone would mean that CERN has finally found it.
The Tevatron evidence suggests that the Higgs might exist, but there isn't enough data to prove it conclusively. After 10 years of searching, the Tevatron turned out to just not be powerful enough to spot the elusive Higgs Boson. Said Fermilab's Rob Roser:
The Tevatron at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
"The Tevatron experiments accomplished the goals that we had set with this data sample. Our data strongly point toward the existence of the Higgs boson, but it will take results from the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe to establish a discovery."If it turns out that the Higgs Boson has been spotted with the expected 4-sigma level discovery (otherwise meaning that they are 99.99% sure it exists) then this will be a turning point for physics. It will confirm our current model of physics and finally fix the problems with the standard model.
As it stands, we have a great theoretical framework filled with tiny fundamental particles. We also have a model for how they interact, but there has been one longstanding problem: all the particles are massless. Clearly that isn't the case. That's where the Higgs Boson comes in. The Higgs is a massive, short-lived particle. As other particles interact with it, they steal some of its mass. The slower the particle, the more of the mass it steals. Which is why neutrinos are virtually massless while others aren't.
The Higgs Boson fixes the model, but we have had no good way to confirm its existence. The Higgs existed for a very short time at the beginning of the universe before tearing itself apart in the period of expansion and cooling following the big bang. So to be able to spot the Higgs, we need to be able to recreate the incredibly energy dense environments at the beginning of the universe. That's where CERN's supercollider came in.
Once we determine that the Higgs is in fact the correct theory to explain a universe with mass, physics can get on to solving other big problems and fixing any models that don't jive with what we now know about the universe.