July 2012: Cornell Physicists on Higgs Boson Findings
Science news has been abuzz since the announcement at CERN on July 4th that a particle of the right type and mass for the theoretical Higgs Boson has been found after a forty-eight year search.
According to Prof. Maxim Perelstein, “New elementary particles are not discovered every day – the last one, the top quark, was found in 1994 – and the new CERN discovery would be guaranteed to have a profound effect on the field of subatomic physics. Our current understanding is based on the Standard Model, a beautiful theory which is widely considered to be the crowning achievement of the twentieth century physics. The existence of the Higgs boson is the last major prediction of the Standard Model that has not been verified by experiment until now, and the discovery of this particle would finally complete the picture.
“What’s most exciting, though, is that by completing one chapter in the history of physics, the discovery of the Higgs would immediately open the next one. Theoretical arguments strongly suggest that the Higgs cannot exist without dramatic modifications to the laws of physics in the domain of extremely energetic particle collisions. This new physics may take the form of further exotic new particles – such as the “superparticles” predicted by some models – or even more bizarre phenomena, such as microscopic new dimensions of space. All these ideas will be tested by the ongoing experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.”
Prof. Jim Alexander states that “the experimental search for the Higgs particle has been a monumental effort spanning almost five decades. At the CERN Laboratory in Switzerland more than 4000 physicists are currently engaged in the huge experiments that look for the Higgs.
“Data released in December 2011 showed evidence of what might be a new particle at a mass value around 125 GeV (about 133 times the proton mass). Since then the experimental collaborations have more than doubled the size of the datasets, and have continued to expand and refine the search techniques while also improving the precision of the detector response. As a result of this effort, much more precise and definitive statements can be made.
“Finding a ‘bump’ that indicates the presence of a new particle is but the first step. Many years of work lie ahead to study the characteristics of the new particle to either verify that it is the Higgs of the Standard Model, or to establish its true identity. Either way, the Higgs is a gigantic step into a new world.”
Prof. Csaba Csaki recently published his thoughts on the Higgs Boson in the Ithaca Journal. To read the article in the Ithaca Journal here.
For more history of the search for the Higgs Boson, read the following article in The Economist by clicking here.