Researchers on a scientific quest to understand Higgs Boson

Nov 21, 2012 by Miles O'brien & Marsha Walton
Researchers on a scientific quest to understand 'the God particle'
Physicists on experiments at the Large Hadron Collider have observed a new particle that future analysis may show to be the long-sought Higgs boson, the missing piece in the Standard Model of particle physics. In December 2011, researchers on the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) and ATLAS experiments announced seeing tantalizing hints of a new particle in their hunt for the Higgs. Since then, they have more than doubled their collected data, which led to the July 2012 announcement of a new particle. Credit: CERN/CMS collaboration 2011

The search for a mysterious subatomic particle can certainly involve some enormous tools, not to mention a multitude of scientists. The effort to find the elusive "Higgs boson" includes over 5,800 scientists from 56 countries! It's a subatomic particle that gives other particles, such as quarks and electrons, their mass.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), physicists Michael Tuts at Columbia University and Kyle Cranmer at New York University are among the 21st century explorers who have been on the hunt for the Higgs.

"There is an important and fundamental synergy that's not to be missed in challenging the deepest scientific questions of our time, while simultaneously educating new generations of scientists and engineers, and developing technologies that can advance society and propel the world's economy in the future," says Saul Gonzalez, program director for Experimental Elementary Particle Physics, within NSF's Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

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Credit: NSF

Without the Higgs, atoms could not form. "The universe would be a fundamentally different place. There would be no life, no stars," says Cranmer.

Cranmer's and Tuts' detective work is done at CERN, the for , located in Geneva, Switzerland, where construction of the and the detectors needed to study these particles took years to complete.

Cranmer first visited CERN as a graduate student. "When I was at CERN, I would watch these pieces of equipment going across the road and it was like a science fiction film, with these enormous magnets that just don't look like they're plausible, being driven across the road to ultimately be lowered by cranes into place," he recalls. "And, to have all of these millions of components put together by physicists, and have it work, is pretty surprising sometimes, but we pulled it off."

And, as complex as huge magnets, super , and protons moving at nearly the speed of light can be, Tuts says the search for the Higgs has captured the imagination of non-scientists as well.

He recalls that, a few years ago, during his plane trips to Switzerland, he'd get blank stares when he told people what he was working on. But, Tuts says, now, just as often, he will get an enthusiastic query, 'Oh, the God particle, how's that going?' from other travelers.

Researchers on a scientific quest to understand 'the God particle'
The Higgs boson is a central component of the "Standard Model," a theory that defines the relationships between the forces of the universe. Credit: TACC

"Historically, we know that fundamental research is the engine that drives technology," says Tuts. "I can't assure you that discovering a Higgs particle will help you tomorrow, or make your life better tomorrow, but in 10 years, 20 years, maybe 50 years, the fundamental research that we're doing now is going to be the technology of the future."

That, adds Tuts, is how science has worked throughout history.

"You could go back to the time of Michael Faraday, who did experiments on electricity. And, people said, 'Well that's cute, that's interesting, but so what?' Well, could you imagine our life without electricity? It's so fundamental to us. I think, in the future, we'll see that," adds Tuts.

The particle detectors used to identify the are the size of a six-story building, full of hundreds of millions of electronic instruments. The ATLAS detector, used by Tuts and Cranmer, works like a huge digital camera. It records hundreds of billions of colliding at nearly the speed of light. This "camera" takes 40 million pictures per second.

"We go from 40 million to about 400 images per second, saved for further analysis, and the trick is to make sure that you don't throw away the good stuff," explains Tuts.

Researchers on a scientific quest to understand 'the God particle'
Using data from experiments performed in 2010 at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland, scientists are studying rare particle decays that could explain why the universe has more matter than antimatter. Credit: 2008, Courtesy of CERN

Still, thousands of computers, some at New York's Brookhaven National Lab, filter those remaining images, looking for traces of the Higgs boson, which decays quickly.

"It only lasts for less than a billionth of a billionth of a second, so we never see the Higgs itself. We only see the things it decays into, and we only have this sort of indirect evidence at first. We have to go through and try to work out what happened," explains Cranmer. "People have likened it to taking two Swiss clocks and smashing them together, and looking at the gears flying out, trying to figure out what was going on inside!"

Why the intense search for the Higgs? Over the past few decades, scientists have been trying to understand all the different building blocks of nature. They came up with a theory called "the Standard Model."

"We've been checking it in all sorts of experiments all across the world for decades, and it's just the theory that refuses to fail. It has passed every test that we've thrown at it," says Cranmer. "But one of the real mysteries was that there was one more particle in this theory that we hadn't seen, which is the Higgs boson. So, somehow, in some sense, we knew the theory was right because it had worked so well but, in other ways, it was this mystery, because there was a missing piece."

On July 4, 2012, CERN's Director General Rolf Dieter-Heuer cautiously announced the discovery of a new particle, with all the proper characteristics of a Higgs boson.

"They had finally collected enough data that they could actually, definitively say, "We've seen something, and that something looks like a Higgs boson," says Tuts.

For these two , and thousands of others around the world, the adventure is just beginning. Still ahead at CERN is an effort to unravel more exotic mysteries, from figuring out what happened immediately after the Big Bang to discovering extra dimensions of time and space!

"It's like Columbus heading off into the ocean. We don't know what's going to be there. Maybe we'll discover America. Maybe we'll discover India. Who knows? This is a triumph of human curiosity. It's really key to our understanding of the universe," says Tuts.

"And so what I hope we're doing is actually inspiring the next set of kids who are maybe now in high school, or maybe even younger, to say, 'Wow, I can ask the question—where do we come from? Where are we going,'" adds Tuts. "We desperately, in our society, need more people who are involved and interested in science and technology."

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cantdrive85
1.2 / 5 (27) Nov 21, 2012
Without the Higgs, atoms could not form. "The universe would be a fundamentally different place. There would be no life, no stars," says Cranmer.


Wow, that's quite a statement! This man obviously has a complete knowledge of everything.

"We've been checking it in all sorts of experiments all across the world for decades, and it's just the theory that refuses to fail. It has passed every test that we've thrown at it," says Cranmer.


It's easy for a theory not to fail when difficult information is ignored and buried, such as the research of Halton Arp among others. The great thing about the "standard theory" for the theoreticists is it's largely unfalsifiable, especially when you have the ability to invent ad hoc phenomenon to save it from failure. Enter the higgs, dm, de, etc...

krundoloss
1.9 / 5 (11) Nov 21, 2012
Science, just like religion, should be approached from the angle of "We don't know for sure, this is what we think based on logic and evidence." I think all our models are ultimately wrong, being that there is so much we do not know. The theory of everything eludes us because it is currently beyond our comprehension. Its like a dog looking at a book. He will never learn to read, although he may recognize shapes and spaces. We will evolve to understand the nature of the universe, or perhaps invent an artificial intelligence that can. I think we need to figure out for sure if the universe loops on itself in someway. We need to think in ways that do not make sense!

I still think that somewhere deep down in matter that these particles are really whole universes, and that existence goes on forever in both macro and micro, perhaps looping on itself, or perhaps branching off infinitely.

Its as if it were designed to never be figured out completely.......
PleonasticAxiom
1 / 5 (8) Nov 21, 2012
Speaking of indirect evidence, ever since I had the Higgs explained to me I viewed it as a way to explain that time and gravity interact with each other.

Like for example, time goes faster in space. Well, to be precise, all time is constant, you just catch up or slow down - If that is true, couldn't we attribute gravity to this discrepancy of time lensing? Like how the bubbles in a Guinness are pushed down by fluid dynamics (No, the bubbles don't actually go down because they are nitrogen and are heavier, they are actually being pushed down.), couldn't "gravity" work the same way with time slowing down?
vacuum-mechanics
1 / 5 (10) Nov 21, 2012
"And so what I hope we're doing is actually inspiring the next set of kids who are maybe now in high school, or maybe even younger, to say, 'Wow, I can ask the question—where do we come from? Where are we going,'" adds Tuts. "We desperately, in our society, need more people who are involved and interested in science and technology."

This seems great, but the immediate simple naive question which will be asked (by kids) is – what is Higgs particle, is it something like electron, why it is not stable, where it come from, how it is arisen from the collision, etc.
Unfortunately, this is the crucial problem which has no conventional explanation from peoples involved. Maybe this simple physical view (below) could give the answer.
http://www.vacuum...=9〈=en
Nanowill
1.4 / 5 (11) Nov 21, 2012
Higgs gives particles mass? Hmmm, so how many Higgs are there in an electron?

Seems to me particle mass comes from the curved metrics required to localize EM energy and form particles. Nothing to do with the Higgs.
LED Guy
4.7 / 5 (14) Nov 21, 2012
CD: What you don't really realize is that most particle physicists want to find flaws in the "standard model". If they can't find something that isn't included in it, then basically their careers are over.

You on the other hand continually point that your EU theory explains everything and there is no need to look further. You can't comprehend phenomenon that are explained by EU.

Rather ironic, don't you think?
Zed123
5 / 5 (11) Nov 21, 2012
@ Can'tdrive85.
Learn some physics, then come back and comment. The standard model is surprisingly falsifiable. There have been dozens of times over the years where it would have been falsified if we hadn't found something. But we keep finding things where we expect them! It predicted a Higgs around a certain mass, and we found a particle within the required range! Not definitive proof yet, but pretty convenient.

@ Nanowill
No, actually the Higgs FIELD gives particles mass. The Higgs Boson is a force carrying particle that propgates the Higgs Field. Like photons propogate the EM field.
TransmissionDump
3 / 5 (6) Nov 21, 2012
Krundolos: "I still think that somewhere deep down in matter that these particles are really whole universes, and that existence goes on forever in both macro and micro, perhaps looping on itself, or perhaps branching off infinitely."

---

Oh dear, I sincerely hope some higher order physicist doesn't put our universe into an epic accelerator and smash us into little tiny pieces.
Kron
2.8 / 5 (9) Nov 22, 2012
Correct Zed. The Higgs particle is the mediator of the Higgs field. A force carrier, aka boson. Just as: the photon (EM force carrier), the W's & Z bosons (weak force carriers), gluons (strong force carriers), the undiscovered graviton (gravitational force carrier).

Krundoloss,
Science does not claim certainty. Scientific theories are NEVER proven as TRUE. They may heal us (as in medicine), they may provide us with physical models (as in physics), but they are never presented as truth. Evolution is not fact, it is a theory. Placebos heal the body, as well as medicine. Correlation does not imply causation.

Religion, on the other hand, claims certainty. Religion is presented as the answer, the truth. Is it correct? No one has that answer. Some just choose to believe, while others do not.

While neither Science nor Religion can be proven as true, Science has an edge, it can be proven as false (1/2 proofs possible), while Religion cannot (0/2 proofs possible).
Job001
1 / 5 (5) Nov 22, 2012
Kron Your knowledge view based upon falsifiability, while simpler, less dogmatic, and organized appears to limit itself based upon user desired results. Shall we retain Freedom of religion, science, politics, knowledge in the face of dogmatic dictators and despots of truth? Truth is a theory whereas "Life liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" and "Freedom of Religion" are constitutional rights we should fight to retain. The Higgs theory seems quite excellent.
johanfprins
1 / 5 (6) Nov 22, 2012
Without the Higgs, atoms could not form. "The universe would be a fundamentally different place. There would be no life, no stars," says Cranmer.
I see no evidence for a Higgs boson or that the blip at CERN gives matter its mass! So I am dead? I am NOT seeing stars? Thanks for telling me!

Egleton
1 / 5 (7) Nov 22, 2012
Imagine a humble patents clerk solving a big mystery of physics these days. It would not be allowed to happen. Too many careers depend on not understanding.
johanfprins
1 / 5 (7) Nov 22, 2012
Imagine a humble patents clerk solving a big mystery of physics these days. It would not be allowed to happen. Too many careers depend on not understanding.


Precisely. But you do not have to be a humble patents clerk: You can be a physicist with an excellent career. If you get any information that questions the Copenhagen interpretation and concepts in Quantum Field Theory, which everybody with common sense suspects is a bucket of hogwash, you will not be able to publish it.

It is rejected without giving any reasons based on real physics logic, except that it cannot be allowed to throw any doubt on the validity of what has become sacrosant knowledge by the mainstream crackpots.

I have decided to design a Hall of Shame in which I will name those persons who censor new ideas in physics in this criminal manner; even those who already died: It will eventually be posted with mugshots. A preliminary list of names is given below:
johanfprins
1 / 5 (8) Nov 22, 2012
CRIMINALITY IN PHYSICS: The Hall of Shame!

Brian Pippard, Frank Nabarro, Marshall Stoneham, Michael Berry, Archie Campbell, Peter Holland, Heinrich Saller, Ulrich Eckern, Robert Garisto, Guiseppi Dito, Karen Southwell, Ian Osborne, Doug Scalapino, Victor Moschalkov, Frank Wilczek, Gerardus 't Hoofd;

More names are in the process of being added. Such a list should help bright young scientists to avoid these physics-criminals. If they cannot avoid these people, I can assure them that they should not even try and publish anything that is not mediocre.
johanfprins
1 / 5 (7) Nov 22, 2012
CRIMINALITY IN PHYSICS: The Hall of Shame
Such a list would be very extensive and definitely a subject of abuse.


Not to abuse people, I am only selecting those who have censored my own work during the past 10 years. If they feel abused they can sue me. This will enable me to cross-examine them in a court of law where they will have to justify their decisions without stonewalling. I can do this since the work they have censored can be proved to be based on irrefutable experiment and logic: They only rejected it because it threatens the holy dogma of the crackpots in charge of physics.
ant_oacute_nio354
1.5 / 5 (8) Nov 22, 2012
The Higgs doen't exist.
The mass is an electric dipole moment.
johanfprins
1 / 5 (3) Nov 22, 2012
The mass is an electric dipole moment.


Can you motivate this statement? There exists reasons why mass-energy of an electron might relate to an electric dipole across a fourth dimension; which in turn relates to curvature of space at and around this mass.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) Nov 23, 2012
The nature of SUSY problem at the LHC can be explained with AWT models, the water surface analogy of space-time in particular. At the water surface the particles are represented with Russel's solitons, which are formed with mutual interference of transverse and longitudinal waves in different ratio. Supersymmetry considers the existence of solitons formed in similar way but inverted ratio. Such a particles correspond the Falaco solitons which are formed at the water surface too, but in the underwater. But when you observe the smallest density fluctuations, like the Brownian noise (analogy of Higgs field), then the character of both types of solitons converges mutually and these these solitons don't differ each other anymore. It results into blow of theories, like the SUSY, which predict the dual version of each solitons at the water surface. Supersymmetry therefore appears broken heavily with extradimensions at the Higgs boson energy density scale.
johanfprins
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 23, 2012
Supersymmetry therefore appears broken heavily with extradimensions at the Higgs boson energy density scale.
Oh God! For how long must we suffer to read such unadulterated nonsense?

khalidcustoms
1 / 5 (5) Nov 23, 2012
INTERNATIONAL scientists said they had found signs of the Higgs boson, an elementary subatomic particle believed to have played a vital role in the creation of the universe after the Big Bang.

Peter Higgs is an 83-year-old British theoretical physicist who first proposed the existence of the particle in 1964 as the missing link of a grand theory of matter and energy, what is known as the Standard Model of Physics.

The boson is posited to have been the agent that gave mass and energy to matter after the creation of the universe 13.7 billion years ago, leading some to nickname it the 'God particle'.
God doesn't play a particles game with the universe.

There is no 'God particle'. CERN scientists are doing an elusion experiment for an elusive particle. Findings are only traces of illusion of the elusive boson. There was no Big Bang!

KHALID MASOOD
Writer: "Time Theory of Everything"
khalidcustoms@gmail.com
gsvasktg
1 / 5 (6) Nov 24, 2012
The Standard Model is based on experimental and empirical findings and hence woefully inadequate. The concept of 4 (or More forces) is typically an observational deduction. There is only one mechanism for a dynamic state in the Universe. Space has components that are in constant and continual harmonic oscillation. When disturbed movement takes place and when many act simultaneously force is multiplied at various levels with corresponding densities. Gravity is the drift of harmonic oscillations towards a lowered rate that takes place when many oscillations act together. Time is the only variable for the fundamental components in space cannot change but only its oscillatory rate. See "www dot kapillavastu dot com slash index dot html" for a complete mathematical explanation based on axioms and derived from fundamentals without external inputs.
Parsec
3 / 5 (2) Nov 24, 2012
Correct Zed. The Higgs particle is the mediator of the Higgs field. A force carrier, aka boson. Just as: the photon (EM force carrier), the W's & Z bosons (weak force carriers), gluons (strong force carriers), the undiscovered graviton (gravitational force carrier).

Krundoloss,
Science does not claim certainty. Scientific theories are NEVER proven as TRUE. They may heal us (as in medicine), they may provide us with physical models (as in physics), but they are never presented as truth. Evolution is not fact, it is a theory. Placebos heal the body, as well as medicine. Correlation does not imply causation.

Religion, on the other hand, claims certainty. Religion is presented as the answer, the truth. Is it correct? No one has that answer. Some just choose to believe, while others do not.

While neither Science nor Religion can be proven as true, Science has an edge, it can be proven as false (1/2 proofs possible), while Religion cannot (0/2 proofs possible).

Very well put.
IronhorseA
1 / 5 (1) Nov 25, 2012
Most of this article seems to be filler rather than an in depth look at what physicists are actually looking into. Descriptions of large magnets being moved about as the LHC was being built is the 'History channel' or 'Idiots guide to Higgs' story, rather than a legitimate phys.org story on the Higgs.
gsvasktg
1 / 5 (3) Nov 25, 2012
It is rather disquieting to science and scientists placing absolute importance relating to derivation of a profound theory as to how the Universe and its manifestation function logically and mathematically. An extremely simple question arises that when nature acts is there a process akin to how human's think and theorize or could there be an integrated sequence that it follows as a cause and effect principle? Obviously natures process cannot be that relates to human thinking processes. That cause and effect process is indeed an axiomatic sequence for it cannot be otherwise, as the Universe has existed without human assistance for eons. Should not Physicists search for it instead of doodling with mathematics in dead time or conducting desultory experiments pronounced by human fossilized thinking? There is a an axiomatic theory that has resolved the puzzles and anomalies arising from the lab table . See for details

johanfprins
1 / 5 (3) Nov 25, 2012
There is a an axiomatic theory that has resolved the puzzles and anomalies arising from the lab table . See for details
AWT! AWT! AWT! AWT!. This is NOT a theory but a hallucination!!!! For God's sake please post under a single name: Or if you WANT to USE different names get someone to rewrite the nonsense you are spouting in terms of acceptable English!

Obviously natures process cannot be that relates to human thinking processes.
Why not? And if it is not so why should YOU be the ONLY HUMAN (if you are one: Maybe you are the missing link) whose "thinking processes" relate to Nature?
johanfprins
1 / 5 (4) Nov 25, 2012
While neither Science nor Religion can be proven as true, Science has an edge, it can be proven as false (1/2 proofs possible),


No it cannot! Modern physicists reject all proof, no matter how good it is, to stick to the mainstream dogma.

It is easier to prove to the Pope that Christ never existed than to prove to a modern day theoretical physicist that Dirac's equation is a a fudged, mathematical piece of bullshit: Even when starting exactly where Dirac started, making the same substitutions, and then, without replacing a square root with matrices (as Dirac has done in his autistic madness), proving that NORMAL everyday algebra gives Maxwell's equation for EM energy moving at a speed v less than c. There is no better proof that Dirac's equation is false and utter nonsense. But do you think modern theoretical physicists will even consider this? Not on your Ninny!

So stop this LIE that theoretical physicists are more open to alternative viewpoints than any religious bigot!
DavidW
1 / 5 (3) Nov 25, 2012
Religion, on the other hand, claims certainty. Religion is presented as the answer, the truth. Is it correct? No one has that answer. Some just choose to believe, while others do not.
While neither Science nor Religion can be proven as true, Science has an edge, it can be proven as false (1/2 proofs possible), while Religion cannot (0/2 proofs possible).



It seems to me you are equating religion with the belief of the existence of God.

We are alive = 1

We have the capacity to care for other species = 1

We cannot change the past = 1

We are not the ones that created this reality = 1

Eternal truth exists = 1

This list can be continued forever.

Truth may not give religion any standing, but these truths imply that additional evidence for there being a God will continue to be found as long as there is life to witness it.
johanfprins
1 / 5 (4) Nov 25, 2012
We are not the ones that created this reality
Can you prove this statement or give reasonable evidence that this is so?

Eternal truth exists
Why do human beings live as if this is not the case? When it comes to the push they ALL lie steal and cheat, and even commit murder, to get what they want to get and to believe what they want to believe. Exceptions are so few and far between that they can be ignored.
Kron
2 / 5 (4) Nov 25, 2012
Johan,
I could care less about the elegance or beauty of any particular theory, if it has predictive prowess I'm happy. The mainstream "dogma" serves quite well in predicting gravitational attraction and such at the classical scale, and the world of molecules and atomic interactions is quite well predicted with quantum mechanics.

Do I believe in concepts like "Dark Matter"? No. Not at all. But, this modification of the classical scale model satisfies observation by adjusting, instead of swapping out, the model. (apologies to the researchers searching for wimps, this is my personal opinion).

In the end, a physical model is only as good as its applicability to the physical world. You want to be an 'artist' and create a beautiful and elegant model which is functional? Go right ahead. If others see it in the same light you do (beauty being in the eye of the beholder, and all), then your theory will become mainstream. I don't care what the mainstream theory is as long as it works.
johanfprins
1 / 5 (4) Nov 25, 2012
Johan,
I could care less about the elegance or beauty of any particular theory, if it has predictive prowess I'm happy.


So am I: Dirac was the one for beauty and thus led physics into the quagmire of Quantum Field Theory. For me a model must be predictive, simple, based on non-contrived mathematics, and dovetail with existing knowledge.

The mainstream "dogma" serves quite well in predicting gravitational attraction and such at the classical scale, and the world of molecules and atomic interactions is quite well predicted with quantum mechanics.
The latter owing to Schroedinger's equation yes. It irks, and give me a massive pain in my posterior, when theoretical physicists, especially those doing QFT, dishonestly hide behind the successes of the Chemists and Solid State Physicists in order to claim that obviously wrong models based on mathematical fudging like renormalization must therefore also be correct. It is criminally dishonest to do this!
johanfprins
1 / 5 (4) Nov 25, 2012
In the end, a physical model is only as good as its applicability to the physical world.


Correct. But if you have three different models which cannot be matched to form a unifying picture, then you are an utter fool to think that these models are sufficient. If they are why do we not stop doing research?
You want to be an 'artist' and create a beautiful and elegant model which is functional? Go right ahead.
Where have I said I want to be an "artist"?
If others see it in the same light you do (beauty being in the eye of the beholder, and all), then your theory will become mainstream.
Not when it is constantly censored by crackpots like Brian Josephson, Frank Wilczek, etc. etc. without giving any reasons other than that "we already understand the physics involved so well, that we do not need another perspective".

A repeat of: "We know that the earth is not moving and have known this for 2000 years, so we are not going to allow you to publish that it is moving".
DavidW
1 / 5 (4) Nov 25, 2012
We are not the ones that created this reality
Can you prove this statement or give reasonable evidence that this is so?

KInd of a silly question. None of us can provide the the evidence that we created our own life. This is one of those times when someone tells you that you are reaching for the fantastic and have lost the debate. Struggle all you want. Reality won't go away.
VendicarD
5 / 5 (1) Nov 25, 2012
The Kook quotient of the responses to this article seems to be at an all time high.
johanfprins
1 / 5 (4) Nov 26, 2012
The Kook quotient of the responses to this article seems to be at an all time high.
Can you be more specific! You have also responded, you know!