Video preludes Higgs boson announcement

Jul 04, 2012

A video from Europe's CERN physics lab, apparently posted mistakenly on the eve of an announcement on the elusive "God Particle," reveals that a new subatomic particle has been observed in the relevant range.

"We've observed a new particle," for () spokesman Joe Incandela says in the video that appeared on the Science News website before being picked up elsewhere.

"We have quite strong evidence that there's something there... To ascertain its properties is still going to take us a bit of time."

Questioned by a feverish US media, CERN quickly insisted that the video was only one of several that was filmed in advance of Wednesday's hotly awaited announcement in Geneva, scheduled for 0700 GMT, hinting that some other scenario may unfold.

The video, already leaked, has been relocated to a password-protected part of the CERN Web site.

But Incandela appeared pretty sure of what he is saying in the video,pouring light on what has become something of a for scientists, in particular.

"But we can see that it decays to two , for example, which tells us it's a boson, it's a particle with integer spin," he says.

"And we know its mass is roughly 100 times the mass of the ... This is the most massive such particle that exists, if we confirm all of this, which I think we will."

Analysts pored over the subtle semantic differences in the video that might illustrate CERN's progress in finding the "," an elusive sub-atomic particle that is believed to confer mass.

"Note that the language used refers to 'observation' NOT 'discovery,'" Peter Woit, a senior lecturer in mathematics at Columbia University in New York, wrote on his blog.

"'Observation' generally means a lower standard of evidence... However, it appears that (CERN is) sensibly playing this down, with nothing in the video mentioning the word 'discovery' or their decision not to use that word."

The video hints that CERN's word choice is indeed intentional.

Incandela, the CERN spokesman, describes the findings as "one of the biggest discoveries..." before correcting himself to add "... or observations of any new phenomena in our field in the last 30 or 40 years."

US-based physicists from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in the midwestern US state of Illinois reported Monday finding strong hints of the Higgs boson, but said CERN data was needed to confirm any potential discovery.

The origin of mass (meaning the resistance of an object to being moved) has been fiercely debated for decades.

Finding the Higgs would vindicate the so-called Standard Model of physics, a theory that was developed in the early 1970s that says the universe is made from 12 particles that provide the building blocks for all matter.

The quest to prove, or disprove, the Higgs has been carried out at particle colliders: giant machines that smash protons together and sift through the sub-atomic debris that tumbles out.

The big daddy of these is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), operated by CERN in a ring-shaped tunnel deep underground near Geneva.

Smashups generated at the LHC briefly generate temperatures 100,000 times hotter than the Sun, replicating the conditions that occurred just after the Universe's creation in the "Big Bang" nearly 14 billion years ago.

But these concentrations of energy, while violent, occur only at a tiny scale.

Evidence to support the existence of the Higgs is indirect, just as we cannot see the wind, but infer its existence and strength from leaves or flags or other objects that it moves.

Explore further: What is Nothing?

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'God particle' out of hiding places: CERN chief

Aug 25, 2011

The elusive Higgs Boson, known as the "God particle", is -- if it exists -- running out of places to hide, the head of the mammoth experiment designed to find it said on Thursday.

Hints fade of elusive physics 'God particle'

Aug 22, 2011

International scientists searching to solve the greatest riddle in all of physics said Monday that signs are fading of the elusive Higgs-Boson particle, which is believed to give objects mass.

LHC to narrow search for Higgs boson

Dec 08, 2011

Scientists at the world's largest atom smasher have new data that shows with greater certainty where to find a long-sought theoretical particle that would help explain the origins of the universe.

Recommended for you

What is Nothing?

14 hours ago

Is there any place in the Universe where there's truly nothing? Consider the gaps between stars and galaxies? Or the gaps between atoms? What are the properties of nothing?

On the hunt for dark matter

17 hours ago

New University of Adelaide Future Fellow Dr Martin White is starting a research project that has the potential to redirect the experiments of thousands of physicists around the world who are trying to identify the nature ...

Water window imaging opportunity

Aug 21, 2014

Ever heard of the water window? It consists of radiations in the 3.3 to 4.4 nanometre range, which are not absorbed by the water in biological tissues. New theoretical findings show that it is possible to ...

User comments : 11

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

T2Nav
5 / 5 (7) Jul 04, 2012
This article, with the accidental video posting and the long-awaited evidence for the Higgs Boson as well as its description and mass, was interesting enough. Using the particle's supernatural nickname instead of its proper name is distracting and hints of unneeded sensationalism and a lack of caring about the hard science involved.
hylozoic
3.8 / 5 (6) Jul 04, 2012
Sick of this tabloid B.S. Gimme something about cause of form in biology, or new insights into gravity. Yikes, if I see another reference to the god or holy grail, etc. I'm going to begin to suspect that the 'big bang' hypothesis is only appreciated because of how well it lines up with western monotheistic cosmologies....
nuge
4.2 / 5 (5) Jul 04, 2012
I can't believe this actually needs to be said, but please don't report on the science until the scientists have actually said what the science is. This is yet more evidence of the idiocy and irresponsibility of science journalists, adding to a rapidly growing list (i.e. that thing about the German kid solving that dynamics problem, an earlier thing about some kid in the US doing some high school project on a fibonacci spiral arrangement of solar panels, the faster-than-light neutrinos, the black holes at the LHC, pretty much anything related to climate science, etc.). When all is said and done, the stupid public end up thinking the scientists are idiots and screwed up when they actually didn't. Enough already.
gwrede
5 / 5 (1) Jul 04, 2012
In another article here this week, they said that lay people are the ones talking about "god particle". As I see it, it's only the media. Regular people talk about the Higgs particle. Makes me sick.
vega12
not rated yet Jul 04, 2012
4.9 sigma for a 125.3 plus/minus 0.6 GeV mass boson. Nice.
JGHunter
3 / 5 (2) Jul 04, 2012
Interesting stuff. I was hoping the name God particle would be cut out during editing, though.

The concept of mass still eludes me...
AtlasT
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 04, 2012
The video, already leaked, has been relocated to a password-protected part of the CERN Web site.
According to arstechnica.com source, CERN has told a UK journalist that the CMS team has made videos covering all possible results, and only the one announcing discovery has leaked.

I' just impressed with the fact, how everyone denounces the dealing with premature informations (do you remember the OPERA results) - but how these informations are "leaking" regularly and the bored people are discussing them passionately again and again.
ant_oacute_nio354
Jul 04, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Bob_Kob
3 / 5 (1) Jul 04, 2012
Look Antonio, they've discovered something there. Whether higgs boson physically exists or can be explained by the interaction of other fields is irrelevant - we can now get some data explaining it further.
Tangent2
1 / 5 (2) Jul 04, 2012
Look Antonio, they've discovered something there. Whether higgs boson physically exists or can be explained by the interaction of other fields is irrelevant - we can now get some data explaining it further.


Isn't that what theory is for? It looks like they are feeling around in the dark and once they find something, they still don't know what it is. Shouldn't the standard model, the one they are apparently testing, provide more insight into the nature and detection of the particle? I would think so if the model/theory was accurate.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Jul 04, 2012
(do you remember the OPERA results)

Do YOU remember that the research team at OPERA waited for 6 months before releasing their findings - checking and rechecking to make sure that they hadn't made a mistake?
Obviously you don't.

Next time you make up a story - try to at least research the facts you quote.
sanita
5 / 5 (1) Jul 04, 2012
Do YOU remember that the research team at OPERA waited for 6 months before releasing their findings
Actually the CERN announcement came just a half year after first release of the finding too. This analogy therefore fits perfectly.