UPDATE 5:57 AM The live webcast from CERN is overloaded but it appears that uncertainty still exists about the HB, they may have glimpsed its signal around 126 GeV – see below – Anthony
“The God Particle” may have been found.
Scientists in Geneva are expected to announce they have caught a glimpse of the elusive Higgs Boson on Tuesday in a press conference planned for 8 AM EST.
The particle is a vital factor in science’s understanding of the universe, but it has never been seen by scientists in any particle accelerator, perhaps until now. The theory of its existence goes all the way back to 1964.
Finding the Higgs Boson is one of the main goals of the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC) which recently started operation amidst worry that the search for the HB might open a rift or create a small black hole.
If scientists have gotten a glimpse of the Higgs, it could have far-reaching consequences in particle physics. It is the only particle predicted by the current favored theory of particle physics that has not yet been observed experimentally. Its discovery would likely validate the Standard Model theory.
Some trivia from the Wikipedia entry on it:
The Higgs boson is often referred to as “the God particle” by the media, after the title of Leon Lederman‘s book, The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? Lederman initially wanted to call it the “goddamn particle,” but his editor would not let him.
I’m sure our physicist friend Luboš Motl will have some coverage at The Reference Frame once the announcement is made for us folks that are three quarks shy of full set of fermions.
The Guardian reports on live tweets and what portions of the webcast they could view
While Fabiola Gianotti goes through the slides from the Atlas experiment, excluding various energies for the Higgs signal, here’s some thoughts from Prof Stephan Söldner-Rembold, Head of the Particle Physics Group at the University of Manchester:
ATLAS and CMS have presented an important milestone in their search for the Higgs particle, but it is not yet sufficient for a proper discovery given the amount of data recorded so far. Still, I am very excited about it, since the quality of the LHC results is exceptional.
The Higgs particle seems to have picked itself a mass which makes things very difficult for us physicists. Everything points at a mass in the range 115-140 GeV and we concentrate on this region with our searches at the LHC and at the Tevatron.
The results indicate we are about half-way there and within one year we will probably know whether the Higgs particle exists with absolute certainty, but it is unfortunately not a Christmas present this year.
The Higgs particle will, of course, be a great discovery, but it would be an even greater discovery if it didn’t exist where theory predicts it to be. This would be a huge surprise and secretly we hope this might happen. If this is case, there must be something else that takes the role of the “standard” Higgs particle, perhaps a family of several Higgs particles or something even more exotic. The unexpected is always the most exciting.
From Cern: “#ATLAS sees a small excess at a Higgs mass of 126 GeV coming from 3 channels. Local significance: 3.6 sigma but only 2.4 sigma globally”
That’s not enough for a “discovery” (which techically needs 5 sigma) but it is very interesting evidence for the Higgs.
Also: “#ATLAS excludes a #Higgs mass between 131 and 453 GeV at 95% confidence level at #CERN Higgs seminar”
Fabiola Gianotti has finished her presentation. So far,we know that Atlas seems to have found evidence for a bump around 126GeV for something that looks like the Higgs.
Next up is Guido Tonelli, spokesperson for Cern’s other main detector, the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS). As @iansample says, “So. What we’re looking for now is whether CMS detector has seen Higgs-like signals around the same mass (126GeV).”
How science has changed…doing some searching on the Atlas experiment, I came across this commercialization of the science at the Atlas store. At least they aren’t offering Pecan logs.