Physicists closing in on the elusive Higgs boson

Aug 17, 2011 By Eryn Brown

Scientists at a meeting in Grenoble, France, recently stoked speculation that physicists at the world's biggest particle accelerator may soon provide a first look at the elusive Higgs boson - the final piece of evidence needed to prove that the Standard Model of particle physics, which explains the behavior of subatomic particles, is correct.

The $10 billion was built near Geneva by the European Organization for , or , to create exotic particles that physicists believe existed in the moments after the Big Bang. For the last 14 months, it has been hurtling beams of protons toward each other around a 17-mile track at nearly the speed of light.

UCLA physics professor Robert Cousins has worked on the collider's detector since 2000. He talked with the Los Angeles Times from his office at CERN in Geneva about the quest for the Higgs boson.

Q: What does the Large Hadron Collider do?

A: We make all of the particles that have ever been made in the history of high-energy physics, like top quarks and W and Z bosons. We try to find out what the smallest building blocks of matter are and what forces work between them. It's been a continuous search for smaller, smaller, smaller. Basically, it's trying to find out what we're made of.

We're hoping also to make particles that have never been observed before - one of which is the Higgs boson.

Q: What's so great about the Higgs boson?

A: It's often said that the Higgs boson is why particles have mass.

Q: How long have physicists been looking for it?

A: Gosh - four decades. Certainly by the mid- to late '70s we knew it had to exist.

Q: How does it fit into the Standard Model of particle physics?

A: The Standard Model is this big picture that's been developed over decades. It says that the smallest objects are quarks and leptons, and it includes the strong, weak and electromagnetic forces. It says that every force has a particle, called a quantum, associated with it. This goes back to Einstein. The first quantum of a force was the photon, which is the quantum of the electromagnetic force.

The whole picture is tied together with many precision measurements. These show that there is one undetected energy field called the Higgs field. It has a quantum associated with it: the Higgs boson. It's the last piece of the Standard Model that has not been discovered.

Q: Are you getting close to finding it?

A: There haven't been any major discoveries announced yet. What's been reported is that the Large Hadron Collider is working fantastically well.

What caused a stir (late last month) was that because we have so much data, we may be getting close to seeing convincing evidence of the Higgs boson. We have graphs with peaks that could indicate the real Higgs boson - or could just reflect statistical fluctuations.

If things go well, we might know by the end of the year.

Q: If a Higgs boson is produced in a collision, how long does it survive?

A: Not long at all. If the Higgs boson is made, it decays before it travels the length of a single proton. It decays far faster than we can observe it. What we observe are the things it decays to. We measure those and run the equations and physics backward to infer that they came from a Higgs boson.

Q: If you find the Higgs boson, how huge a discovery would it be?

It would confirm that the Standard Model, which was built up over 50 years, really does all fit together. Showing that the Higgs field exists and that it's the reason particles have mass would give experimental confirmation to an enormous body of work.

Q: And if you don't find it?

Occasionally a theorist says that the biggest discovery would be if we don't find it, because that would mean that everything we did up to now is wrong.

I think it would be great to find the Higgs boson and understand its properties. It might not be as simple as we've predicted - there might be more than one Higgs boson, for example. We might discover that the is right, but it's incomplete and we need a larger theory.

Then it would be time to discover new forces and new types of matter. There are other discoveries to make at the LHC that would be even bigger discoveries than the because they'd be unexpected.

Q: Does the general public care about this search?

A: We get asked a lot, "What good is this?"

Beginning around 2007, the LHC started to excite the public's imagination. There was this nonsense about us making a black hole that was going to destroy the world ... but that spurred the field into doing a better job of explaining what we were doing.

By the time we turned it on in 2008, there was growing worldwide interest.

Explore further: X-ray powder diffraction beamline at NSLS-II takes first beam and first data

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User comments : 26

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Charlesu87
Aug 17, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Noumenon
4.8 / 5 (48) Aug 17, 2011
They're going to put someone's eye out with that thing.
Pete1983
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
I'm no QCD expert, but why does it seem every article states that "mass comes from the Higgs"?

We know that SOME mass COULD come from the Higgs, but by no means all, and it depends on what particular particle you're talking about as well.

I could be wrong though...
Crackpot
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
Quote "...the final piece of evidence needed to prove that the Standard Model of particle physics, which explains the behavior of subatomic particles, is correct."

In scientific terms, it's not possible to prove a model correct.. It can be falsified, though!

Clinging so tightly to the Standard Model may be very unfruitful, but that will be decided in retrospect...
hard2grep
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
Many of these Higgs articles leave you with the implication that the particle itself is responsible for mass. At about 6 times the mass of a proton, this means that there are massless elements on the periodic table; remember that this is a short duration particle that is not around long enough to impart mass upon the universe. the particle's existence mostly backs up the standard model because it must be true for the standard model to work. Now, where is my Red Ryder?
ant_oacute_nio354
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
The Higgs particle doesn't exist, because
the mass is the electric dipole moment.

Antonio Saraiva

m = e.k/x (1-pi^3.alpha^2 /2)

m-mass;e-electron charge;k-Boltzmann constant;
x-Compton wavelenght;pi=3.1415927;
alpha-fine structure constant. (SI units)

alpha = 1/(137^2 pi^2)^0.5

e.k.c = h (1 pi^3.alpha^2 /2)

c-Light speed;h-Planck constant
DavidMcC
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
The Higgs particle doesn't exist, because
the mass is the electric dipole moment.


What makes you think that?
ant_oacute_nio354
1 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2011
I found a new system of units with only 2 fundamental units:
speed and distance or space and time.
In that system the mass has the same units of the electric dipole moment, then I found that formula that is exact.
The Boltzmann constant has units squred meter.
Coulomb meter is equal to kilogram.
I have sheked the system a thousand times and it works fine.
Please see:

www.wbabin.net/st...a427.pdf

Antonio Saraiva
I have been censored for 11 years, because I'm not a doctor.
rawa1
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
Before some time I proposed, the Higgs boson searched is actually top-quark pair, revealed before many years at Tevatron, because I realized, the same dilepton decay channel has been used for both top quark detection, both Higgs boson detection at LHC.

Now the new study claims, a top quark bound by to its anti-matter partner, the antitop, would act as a version of the elusive Higgs boson, conferring mass on other particles.

http://www.nature...436.html

The graph of estimated Higgs boson mass spectrum exhibits already excluded regions separated into two gaps: one wide and narrow one at ~ 83 GeV.

http://upload.wik...2011.png

If you check the top quark mass (172.0±2.2 GeV/c2), you'll realize, it's exactly the twice of the value of the gap. It's another indicia, the Higgs particle is hidding right there. It would mean, the same artifact, which is searched at LHC was revealed at Fermilab before years.
axemaster
5 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2011
I have been censored for 11 years, because I'm not a doctor.


I actually took a look at your pdf, Antonio, and while it seemed interesting, it was also horribly written and unreadable.

If you want to tear down centuries of painstaking work, at least try to do so in a more pleasing format.

Also, I did read through about 1/4 of it, and I hate to break it to you, but you're completely out of your mind. But don't let that stop you. Good luck my friend.
ant_oacute_nio354
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
See the part about the system of units
rawa1
1 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2011
In reality my theory coincides with Einsteins for electromagnetic waves of low frequency (micro waves, visible light and ultraviolet ) but differs for waves of high frequency ( x rays and gamma rays ). Note that relativity theory has never been tested for frequencies higher than visible light..
Hi, Antonio. In my theory the photons of wavelength shorter than 2 cm should behave like the tachyons and they're faster, than the shortwavelength photons.

The attempts to observe photons of shorter wavelength (gamma rays) were indeed done and their speed was found nearly identical with those of visible light. On my blog you can find an explanation of why is it so and why it doesn't violate my theory. Maybe it could help you with the verification of your own theory too. Search the "GRB090510 photon controversy" on the web, for example.
Gawad
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
I have been censored for 11 years, because I'm not a doctor.
Please, let me fix this for you:
I have been censored for 11 years, because I need a doctor.
There. That's better.
rawa1
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
I have been censored for 11 years, because I'm not a doctor.
Try to create a private reddit here http://www.reddit.com and send me a link to Zephir_banned account. We could dispute the underlying logics of your theory.
ant_oacute_nio354
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
Everything is made of speed and distance or space and time.
The mass is the electric dipole moment. All forces are electric. The gravity is the small electric force between many neutral dipoles.
Can you tell me why this formula is exact (SI units):

e.k.c = h (1 pi^3.alpha^2 /2)

e-electron charge;k-Boltzmann constant;c-light speed;
h-Planck's constant;pi=3.1415927;alpha-fine structure constant

alpha = 1/(137^2 pi^2)^0.5
The orbits of the electrons are classical.In hydrogen atom the electrons have double orbits.The mystery of the number two for the electron.
The spacetime doesn't exist: c^2t^2 - x^2 = S

S = 1.912x10^-34m2

Antonio Saraiva (From Portugal)
Gawad
3 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2011
@Pete1983
I'm no QCD expert, but why does it seem every article states that "mass comes from the Higgs"?
Because the mass of fundamental particles themselves (theoretically) depends on how strongly they couple to the Higgs field. You're quite right, though, that ideally they should specify this to be the mass of fundamental particles.
We know that SOME mass COULD come from the Higgs, but by no means all, and it depends on what particular particle you're talking about as well.

I could be wrong though...
Not at all. Most of the mass of normal, baryonic matter comes not from the mass of its fundamental quark constituents (determined by their coupling to the Higgs field), but from the binding energy that holds them together into protons and neutrons. So in fact it turns out that the Higgs field plays an essential (massless fundamental particles wouldn't bind) but secondary role in determining the overall mass of the "normal" matter in our universe.
frajo
4 / 5 (4) Aug 18, 2011
Also, I did read through about 1/4 of it, and I hate to break it to you, but you're completely out of your mind. But don't let that stop you. Good luck my friend.

There really are lots of goodies in his paper:
"There's the nothing. But, if so, the nothing can't exists. On the logical limits, if nothing exists, the nothing can't exist." (p25);
"The astronomical redshift is due to the transverse speed of rotation of our universe" (p238);
"When a mathematical equation has an asymptote value of infinity the true natural value is zero. This is renormalization." (p48)
"Lets prove that infinite is equal to zero ..." (p92)
"Flying saucers generate a negative mass with a Cooper-pair capacitor to become with a zero mass." (p124)
"The particles of our vacuum exists in groups of four like the universes, There are 6*10**23 universes." (p164)
"Religion is ignorance." (p267)

Gawad
not rated yet Aug 18, 2011
There really are lots of goodies in his paper:
Add to that:
If the speed of light is not relative, how can we explain light's Doppler effect?


Wow, I mean, it's like a Physics Just For Laughs! Comedy Festival for Standford undergrads.
Gawad
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
Try to create a private reddit here http://www.reddit.com and send me a link to Zephir_banned account. We could dispute the underlying logics of your theory.
Wow. "To Zephir_banned account". Priceless. Maybe you guys could start a Crank support group? I'll have to talk to Eth about putting a recovery program together for you guys:

Cracking the Cranks - 12 steps to coming out of the cracked pot.

1- We admitted we were powerless over Cranking
2- We have come to believe that a Reality greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity
3- Have made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God....ah, no, wait...that won't work... Ah! "to the care of Edward Witten, as we understand him" Hummm, o.k. maybe still needs work.
4-Made a searching and fearless mathematical inventory of our work
5-Admitted to Witten, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our failed proofs
6-Were entirely ready to have Witten correct all these errors

cont.
Gawad
1 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2011
7-Humbly asked Witten over for tea. (Hey, try THAT with God!)
8-Made a list of all persons we have misquoted and whose work we have misrepresented, and be willing to buy beer to them all!
9-Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would cause them to collapse into a fit of uncontrollable laughter.
10-Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. (No need to tweak that one, eh? All good!)
11-Sought through concentration to improve our conscious contact with Witten as we understand Him, calculating only for knowledge of His theory for us and the submitting of applications for the super-computational power to carry that out.
12-Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we will try to carry this message to Cranks and Crackpots, and to practice these principles in all our affairs!
DavidMcC
not rated yet Aug 19, 2011
Antonio, how do you justify having a "v" if it isn't dx/dt?
hush1
1 / 5 (1) Aug 20, 2011
Antonio feels intimidated. Not by his own understanding. Antonio feels intimidated by the language he is forced to use.

When Antonio states:
Nothing has an intrinsic property - that of decay.

Then that sparks interest and curiosity in me.

I am prompted to ask myself:
What is the nature, the mechanism of this decay?
(He has already devoted his attention to defining nothing)

This reminds me of Stephen Hawking declaring when nothing fluctuates, something is created or born, a universe.

Antonio states his well reasoned cases for flaws he has allegedly found.

At this point Antonio stops.
Antonio does not comb the literature to see if his reasons to dismiss the theories that finally prevailed were not the same shared reservations by others challenging the newly created theories.

Antonio can strengthen his cases for dismissal. How? By stating no one else objected with similar reasoning at the time. When Antonio finds similar objections in line with his own objections,

cont...
hush1
1 / 5 (1) Aug 20, 2011
cont...

Antonio can state:
You see? The very same or similar objections were already brought forth! By doctors, no less. And here is why their same or similar objections fell short...

When contesting theory, quoting Gleichgesinnte (like minded) colleagues or well known figures sharing similar, yet insufficient and incomplete reasons for objection helps.

Antonio overlooks this avenue of support.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2011
"the mass is the electric dipole moment." - ahem

The electron neutrino has no dipole moment and yet has a finite rest mass.

e in your equation = 0

Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (1) Aug 21, 2011

"Everything is made of speed and distance or space and time." - ant

Or air, earth, fire and water.

Welcome to kookville.
ant_oacute_nio354
1 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2011
Hello to all

The mass of the electron neutrino is:

m = e.SQRT(S) = 2.2x10^-36kg or 1.24 eV

S = c^2t^2 - x^2 = 1.912x10^-34m2
e-electron charge
The mass is the electric dipole moment.

Antonio Saraiva
ant_oacute_nio354
1 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2011
The second part of my work:

www.wbabin.net/fi...a436.pdf

Antonio Saraiva

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