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  (Source: Stephen van Vuuren)
The world of physics takes a bold leap forward with a single laborious finding

The world's two most advanced particle detector experiments -- ATLAS and CMS -- have both detected signs of a particle that eluded physicists for almost a half century -- a particle researchers suspect is the Higgs boson.

I. Hunting for Higgs -- Inside the Most Expensive Machine Created by Man

The two detectors are housed within a 17 mile in circumference underground tunnel in the Alps, a tunnel which is chilled to temperatures colder then outer space.  The particle accelerator and attached detection apparatus is a triumph of engineering, and at $10B USD is the single most expensive piece of laboratory equipment in the history of mankind.

Brought online in 2008, the collider suffered from early hiccups, typical of large particle accelerators.  But before long it was setting records and gathering data which led to the discovery of new exotic particles.
LHC Track
The LHC track stretchs 17 miles and is colder than space. [Image Source: Entropy Bound]

But the biggest payoff for the high cost and years of effort came when the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced that they had detected signs of the Higgs-like boson, a particle whose operation necessitates a super-powerful collider and world class detection equipment.

Just a couple days before U.S. Department of Energy's FermiLab published data from their now-defunct Tevatron indicating that they were 99.8 percent (roughly 3σ) sure that they had detected a Higgs-like boson.  That level of confidence is called an "observation" in particle physics.

II. From "Observation" to "Discovery"

By contrast the threshold of confidence for a "discovery" is 5σ -- and CERN delivered precisely that on Wednesday.

Using data gleaned from record 7 TeV and 8 TeV proton collisions, the CMS and ATLAS teams jointly pinpointed a Higgs boson or similar particle to within the 125-126 GeV mass region, with the requisite 5σ confidence.

That result is strengthened by the fact that the observation at the Tevatron predicted a mass between 115 and 135 GeV.

The CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela comments:

The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found.  The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks.

Higgs boson observation
A CMS detector view of a Higgs boson creation from a 8 TeV collision. [Image Source: CERN]

ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti comments:

We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV. The outstanding performance of the LHC and ATLAS and the huge efforts of many people have brought us to this exciting stage, but a little more time is needed to prepare these results for publication.

Atlas Higgs
An ATLAS detector view of a Higgs boson creation from a 8 TeV collision. [Image Source: CERN]

III. The Hunt is Over, But the Discoveries Have Just Begun

The discovery of the new boson is a momentous day for particle physics, and one that comes despite wise caution on the parts of the men and women involved.  Physicists were wary of jumping the gun and announcing the discovery, lest they make a mistake and alienate a public who already is less than highly interested in taking a trip into the cerebral land of modern particle physics.

The Higgs boson is theorized to give rise to the so-called Higgs mechanism, a form of electroweak symmetry breaking.  A simple analogy of this complex effect is to think of 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.

To summarize in the simplest terms, researchers are now have detected a particle which they believe may give all standard particles their mass.

 Nebula wide
Finding the Higgs boson is a major step on the road to discovering the secrets of the universe.
[Image Source: NASA]

The discovery takes researchers a step closer to confirming the "Standard Model of particle physics", a theory which in turn opens the door to more advanced applications, such as string theory.

Much work remains to be done, though.  The particle, while observed with a high measure of confidence, was poorly quantified, aside from its mass.  By further probing observed Higgs-like bosons, researchers will be able to tune, accept, or reject certain compenents of Standard Model theory.  These changes could help researchers better understand mysterious components that make up much of the non-visible universe -- such as dark matter and energy.

In short, Higgs boson -- also nicknamed the "Goddamn particle" or "God Particle", for short, by a famous Nobel laureate -- is only the first step in a bold journey for mankind, a journey which will take humans, quite literally where no man has gone before.

Sources: CERN, Atlas Team, CMS Team

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RE: I beg to differ
By Reclaimer77 on 7/5/2012 3:38:14 PM , Rating: 1
LOL okay Morpheus. Take the blue pill!!!

I suppose you think you're interesting and philosophical, but you're really just full of shit. And regurgitating someone elses crazy ideas because you think they make you sound intellectual is SO boring. Please, get over yourself.

Why is space a human fabrication?

Except it's not. It's real. We know it's real for obvious reasons. And please, don't waste my time with that "it's only what we can observe with our senses, so it's not really real" bullshit.

We might not fully understand space and time, but we know it's not a "fabrication". It's real. We could be ENTIRELY wrong about it. Every single theory or shred of data might be wrong about space, but that doesn't change the fact that it plainly exists.

Space implies that we exist within some kind of "container", but supposing space exists as we perceive it, there is no "smallest possible unit of space". There is no limiting container providing boundaries to what we perceive as our universe.

Is this supposed to be your idea of an original or thought-inspiring concept? This has been explored to death in science fiction and scientific debates.

Space isn't the absence of everything. Only now we're beginning to understand the Universe essentially is a mesh of the spacetime continuum. It's real even thought we cannot literally see it and in the physical universe it's manifested as a vacuum. But thanks to our "flawed" observational science and ample evidence, we have arrived at that conclusion.

I'm not as close minded as I'm sounding, I have considered these things. What I take exception with is your condescending position on science, and how if everyone thought like you, we would still be living in caves.

We have an unlimited capacity for imagination and creativity. But science cannot work that way. Things have to be studied and quantified, and yes, a lot of this is based on our perceptions. But unless we're part of the sickest joke in the Universe, we have to assume that our five senses are reliable in their perception of the world around us.

This is an inherent limitation to science as a profession, and it's why we haven't made any major technological advances since the 60s. Most tech today is simply gradual evolution of tech that was around since WWII, but prior to WWII we went from riding horses to flying jet planes and traveling thru space in under a century.

Fundamentally flawed analysis. Observational science and engineering are two completely different fields. We're using that tech today because it works really well. Yes we COULD be living in sky domes with flying cars, like the Jetsons. But that wouldn't be practical.

You're trying to put the cart before the horse. Mastering the elements at our disposal is key for advancing our technological state. And science is how we achieve that. Without scientific research and knowledge, we cannot engineer things with every increasing advancement.

Take the Warp Drive from Star Trek, for example. Scientists have already made a great argument for it's feasibility and the possibility of similar forms of FTL travel. Is it their fault we don't have it yet? No. It's because we simply do not have the engineering and materials available to make it a reality. Gathering the anti-matter. Control a reaction of anti-matter and matter through a focusing crystal. And in turn using that reaction to form and manipulate the null-field "warp bubble" allowing the ship to traverse great distances by manipulating space and time.

No major technical advances? I would beg to differ. Did you read the article? Pretty sure we couldn't do this in the 1960's.

Your timetable is a bit off as well. 50 years in human terms wouldn't even be a grain of sand in the hourglass of the Universe. By what scale are you measuring our progress? What is your comparison based on?

RE: I beg to differ
By MrBlastman on 7/5/2012 10:29:14 PM , Rating: 2
Control a reaction of anti-matter and matter through a focusing crystal. And in turn using that reaction to form and manipulate the null-field "warp bubble" allowing the ship to traverse great distances by manipulating space and time.

Ah but you can't even hope to manipulate something you don't even understand or comprehend. In theory, manipulation of spacetime through gravitic mechanisms is absolutely plausible--we have to define and fully understand that "nothing" to do it well.

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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