Higgs Boson, Cornered

December 16, 2011

Rheanna Sand

At the end of any year, it's fun to look back and see what has changed in this last spin around the sun. From the Arab Spring to 72 hour marriages, 2011 has been an… interesting year to say the least.

The folks over at CERN's Large Hadron Collider are also taking a look back at 2011, and have excitedly announced that they are very, very close to finding the modern Holy Grail of particle physics, the Higgs Boson. Unless, of course, it travels back in time and sabotages the collider with bread again.

We've shown you the Higgs Boson before, but this video provided by CERN provides some great visuals to make sense of the "Higgs field" that gives every other particle it's mass (no audio, just subtitles - and I suggest full screen to read them):


After combining the results from different projects like ATLAS and CMS, which are smashing protons together in different ways, they say that if the Higgs Boson exists, it likely has a mass between 115-130 GeV (gigaelectronvolts, a unit of energy used in particle physics - at that scale, mass and energy become somewhat interchangeable). Apparently there are hints that 125 GeV is the magic number, but the statistics aren't quite good enough to say yes for sure.

They predict that within the next year, we will have a definitive answer as to whether the current model of particle physics, the Standard Model, is correct. And if they find the mass of the Higgs particle, a flood of new experiments will be designed to learn about the most fundamental aspects of our universe - the existence of mass itself.

And to quote my favorite time traveler... that's heavy, doc.



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