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  (Source: BBC)
Two separate experiments at the Large Hadron Collider bring scientists closer to elusive building block of Universe

For a week, anticipation has been building for the press conference held this morning by scientists from the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland. Speculation abounded that they would announce evidence of the misnamed "God particle," the Higgs boson, which gives all matter mass.

So, now that 8 a.m. ET on December 13, 2011 has passed, are we any closer to finding the so-called God particle? Well, maybe.

According to the BBC, researchers at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland say that two experiments there may have resulted in glimpses of the Higgs boson. However, they do not have enough evidence yet to make a solid claim.

So why all the fuss? 

"The Higgs is the final piece of the Standard Model of Particle Physics which is, itself, the crowning achievement of subatomic physics. Called the 'God Particle' by some, the Higgs is responsible for giving all the other flecks of matter in this Universe the remarkable property we think of as mass. Physicists have been hunting the Higgs for decades," explains Adam Frank at NPR's 13.7 blog.

Evidence of the Higgs would be one of the most significant scientific advances in 60 years. 

The two separate experiments at the LHC — Atlas and CMS — have been searching for the basic building block of the Universe independently. "Because the Standard Model does not predict an exact mass for the Higgs, physicists have to use particle accelerators like the LHC to systematically look for it across a broad search area," the BBC reports.

Both experiments have reportedly seen a data "spike" around a mass of 125 Gigaelectronvolts. While this isn't enough to confirm the Higgs' discovery, it is enough to generate mass excitement (pun definitely intended) in scientific circles.

Perhaps now all the citizens CERN recruited to help find the Higgs can go back to their day jobs.

Sources: BBC, NPR



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The Politics of Finding the Higgs
By L1011 on 12/13/2011 1:13:00 PM , Rating: 2
If you could allow me to put on my tin foil hat for a moment, what if CERN or Fermi finds the Higgs? What will happen, exactly? Is there a government team that these scientists must report all findings too before publicly announcing them?

The tiny bit of conspiracy theorist in me thinks that if the science being worked on at FermiLab or CERN is so ground-breaking, the politicians and/or military would have an interest to NOT announce such a finding, so they could work to militarize the findings or, in the case of politicians, line the pockets of their cronies who stand to benefit (or lose) from finding the Higgs.

Is this a possibility or am I waaaaaay off base here?




By lagomorpha on 12/13/2011 1:44:42 PM , Rating: 2
To quote the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, "Not only is it not right, it's not even wrong!"

The sort of physics being worked on at Fermi and CERN isn't the sort of thing that's going to immediately lend itself to bigger bombs and death rays. It's an inquiry into the fundamental structure of the universe, purely to satisfy humanity's innate desire to explore. Does finding the Higgs mean more or less funding for CERN? I doubt it, there are lots of experiments left to run and I get the impression the Europeans aren't in a position to significantly increase science funding at the moment.


By derricker on 12/13/2011 10:23:29 PM , Rating: 2
What will happen?? humanity will think they have reach an end in a path, and after dozens of years of Higgs become the new Atom, someone, somewhere, will have an spark in the form of a revolutionary idea that perhaps, there's more to the universe than the Higgs.


RE: The Politics of Finding the Higgs
By Paj on 12/14/2011 7:28:47 AM , Rating: 2
Unlikely. From what I've read, no one has any idea of what kind of practical application it would have at this stage. Then again, that's what they said about radioactivity, electricity, the telephone, the computer, along with many other inventions and discoveries. So who knows that the future might bring - either way its pretty exciting.

I see the LHC as something akin to the Manhattan project - a massive, expensive and unwieldy system designed to produce something mindblowingly amazing in tiny quantities. As time goes on, our capacity for doing this will increase to the point where it becomes relatively commonplace. Eventually, isolating a Higgs Boson (for whatever use this has in a larger process) may be no more onerous than refining uranium is today.


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