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Tevatron presents strong evidence Higgs boson was observed, but LHC needed to provide final verification

Tomorrow, while America celebrates July 4, mankind worldwide may celebrate a separate momentous event -- the discovery of the legendary Higgs boson.

I. Riding Into the Sunset -- Tevatron Goes Out With a Bang

The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) will tomorrow hold a special press conference at 9 a.m.  The event will provide an update to the world on the progress in the search for the critical particle using the Large Hadron Collider, the largest and most expensive laboratory apparatus in history.  Many physicists expect evidence supporting the existence of the Higgs boson to be presented.

On the eve of that event the U.S. Department of Energy's FermiLab, has published information that strongly hints at the existence of the Higgs boson, but stops short of providing explicit proof of its existence.

The data comes courtesy of Tevatron, a smaller accelerator 4 miles in circumference.  Located on the FermiLab grounds just east of Batavia, Ill., Tevatron was long the world's most powerful accelerator.  Its tests actually wrapped up last year, before the accelerator was permanently shut down, after the U.S. decided being a world leader in scientific research was no longer among its spending priorities.

But Tevatron's last hurrah has offered a tantalize tease of what lies ahead with the LHC.  Taking 10 years worth of data involving approximately 500 trillion particle collisions, the FermiLab teams offered up signs of elusive particle.

The Tevatron's greatest legacy may be in finding the first evidence of the Higgs boson.
[Source: FermiLab]

States Rob Roser a spokesman for one of the two Tevatron experiments, "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."

The Tevatron was able to determine with relative accuracy that the particle it observed was a Higgs boson.  But the 1-in-550 chance that the finding was a statistical fluke (99.8 percent level of certainty) was unacceptably high in the laser-precise world of particle physics -- hence the LHC's firepower is necessary.

The LHC is better equipped to find the Higgs boson, with its higher beam energy, longer 17 mi. (circumference) track, and state-of-the-art detection gear.

II. Why the Higgs Boson Matters

The Higgs boson is the only fundamental subatomic particle predicted by the Standard Model that has yet to be observed.

But it is not mere novelty that drives researchers to observe this particular particle, one must understand the Standard Model of particle physics.  This pillar of physics theory predicts that the Higgs boson gives rise to the so-called Higgs mechanism, a sort of "sticky field" that coats particles like a spoon dipping through a jar of honey.  This "sticky" effect is thought to give protons, neutrons, and electrons -- the building blocks of matter that most of us are familiar with -- their mass.

Unfortunately the Higgs boson needs very high beam energy and luminosity in order to be provide enough mass and conditions favorable to a Higgs boson.  The Higgs boson is predicted to be less that 1.4 TeV, if the Standard Model is correct.

If the Higgs boson or similar electroweak symmetry breaking mechanism are not found to give the subatomic particles their mass, then it will be an intriguing open season for new theories.  But if the Higgs boson is observed, mankind will be content in knowing that we have quantified yet another facet of reality as we know it.

Nobel Prize laureate Leon Lederman popularized the hunt for the Higgs boson in his book "The God Particle", which chronicled his work hunting for the particle at FermiLab.  Professor Lederman originally intended the title to be "The Goddamn Particle" -- an expression of his frustration at the difficult observing it.  The title was subsequently shortened and the phrase "God particle" stuck as a colloquialism for the complex theoretical particle.

Higgs boson
A Nobel prize winner nicknamed the Higgs boson the "God particle", a less cheeky shortening of his longer name for it -- the "Goddamn particle". [Image Source: Gandee Vasan/Getty Images]

The latest results from his lab do little to end the frustration, but they do provide indication that a Higgs boson's mass would be between 115 and 135 GeV -- about 130 times the mass of the proton.

Now all that remains is to see what exactly the LHC has gleaned within that band of energies.

Was the Tevatron's blip, unlikely as it may be, a mere stastical fluctuation, or was it the first observation of the God particle?  The data from the LHC should offer evidence towards which possibility is true.

Sources: FermiLab, CERN

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RE: Isn't it crazy
By Amiga500 on 7/4/2012 5:30:18 AM , Rating: 4

It continually amazes me that Americans on average spend twice as much for poorer health care than most of the "socialist" European countries.

Unfortunately, as you indicate, the fear that socialist is one step from communist really is becoming a hindrance to US progress.

RE: Isn't it crazy
By TSS on 7/4/12, Rating: 0
RE: Isn't it crazy
By Belard on 7/4/2012 7:05:24 AM , Rating: 3
Rather than just repeating stupid talking points... you have to be specific in the garbage you are talking about.

When you go to our public schools, drive on our public roads, call the police when there is trouble, and have the military fight our wars - thats part of our SOCIALISM.

RE: Isn't it crazy
By Ringold on 7/4/12, Rating: 0
RE: Isn't it crazy
By maugrimtr on 7/4/2012 7:42:22 AM , Rating: 2
Socialism is also about keeping that damn 1% restricted to opening their mouths. In the US, they are also allowed to open their wallets and politicians are not put under severe restrictions as to the amount, source and conditions placed on any funding they receive directly or indirectly (indirectly being those disgusting SuperPacs that can be anonymously setup).

Comparing European Socialism to anything like communism is ridiculous. Communism is anathema to any and all democracies.

RE: Isn't it crazy
By SPOOFE on 7/5/2012 3:55:40 PM , Rating: 2
Socialism is also about keeping that damn 1% restricted to opening their mouths.

False. Socialism promises to do such a thing, but all it has succeeded in doing is keeping that damn 1% even more strongly entrenched.

The problem with socialism is socialism. The problem with capitalism is capitalists.

RE: Isn't it crazy
By MrBlastman on 7/4/2012 11:06:02 AM , Rating: 1
The reason we spend more is because the European nations force our companies to give them huge discounts on drugs and supplies--and in turn, our companies pass those costs on to our citizens through increased prices and rates.

We are indirectly subsidizing Europe's false security.

It doesn't matter, though, as the EU is going to implode soon enough anyways. The Europeans brag about how we subsist on debt, yet every single day more and more debt is being cranked out to feed a system over there doomed to fail.

The one thing Europe is doing right is CERN. Thank goodness for that, too. The American lust for material things and money is sickening to say the least and we could learn from Europeans on that.

RE: Isn't it crazy
By tamalero on 7/4/2012 11:21:18 AM , Rating: 2
>citation needed

redirecting the blame is always fun.. dont you think?

RE: Isn't it crazy
By MrBlastman on 7/4/2012 2:07:09 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not redirecting the blame, I'm stating a fact. Go Google it if you want to learn more.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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