Searching for the elusive Higgs Particle

The world of physics has its mysteries, but one of its biggest—whether the elusive Higgs boson actually exists—is closer to a resolution, of sorts.

Researchers first theorized the Higgs boson in the 1960s. It is named for Peter Higgs, a professor emeritus at the University of Edinburgh who was one of several physicists who theorized its existence. Now, with indications looking positive, they expect to soon find enough evidence to demonstrate once and for all whether Higgs exists.

On April 18 the World Leaders Forum co-hosted an event with Columbia Science Initiative to explore two fundamental physics questions regarding this so far intangible particle: “What if we find the Higgs boson? And what if we don’t?” The panelists were physics professor Michael Tuts, the ATLAS experiment program manager at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN; Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics; Dennis Overbye, New York Times science reporter; and Mariette DiChristina, Scientific American editor in chief.

The Standard Model of physics—the theory that describes how subatomic particles behave and interact—is the most accepted theory of the universe. It portrays the Higgs field as a “molasses-like” substance holding everything together, and giving everything mass.

“If this is true, we should be able to build an experiment that proves it,” said physics professor Amber Miller, dean of science for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, who moderated the panel. “There’s no reason to think it should exist except that theorists have cooked it up. That makes it risky, but also profound. We are looking for something that will only exist if theories are correct.”

“If they find it, it will confirm ideas that have been on the table for 30 to 40 years,” said Greene, who believes the experiment presents a win-win situation. “It’s purely mathematical, this idea that space is filled with this substance. If they can crack a little piece off, it will be an amazing confirmation of the power of math to light the way. And it’s amazing if they don’t find it, because it will tell us this idea is wrong, and force us to go back to the drawing board.”

Scientists have long known that everything has mass, and understood the properties of particles, but still have not been able to explain where mass comes from. As Miller explained, the search for Higgs is not only an opportunity to understand how nature works, but also how science itself works.

At the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, a 17-mile track deep beneath the earth outside Geneva, scientists from 38 countries and 175 institutions conduct experiments that smash proton beams, or hadrons, into each other at nearly the speed of light. Tuts, described ATLAS as “a microscope for studying the subatomic world.” The device is so large that it would fit snugly inside Low Library. The team is using ATLAS to take millions of pictures of these collisions, hoping to detect the Higgs, with experiments running throughout 2012. The evidence they seek is repeated indications of a “bump” in the data at a particular mass indicating the existence of the Higgs.

Overbye said he hopes to announce major news, and jokingly chided Tuts and Greene for physics not having “a single breakthrough in nearly forty years.”

“How will you know when it’s time to pick up the phone,” asked DiChristina, calling this a “touchstone” moment. “How will you know when it’s proven enough?”

Tuts explained that they will be continuing to analyze data and “when we can be certain enough, we’ll announce our findings.”

When an audience member asked why scientists pursue something that may not exist, especially given the expense, Professor Tuts explained, “By doing cutting edge research, we push the boundaries of technology. Basic research is the engine that drives technology. And 20 or 50 years from now, the basic research we are doing will continue to impact technology.” Greene added that such experiments can inspire young people to pursue science, and that if the researchers prove that Higgs exists, it will just be beginning.

“This is a new kind of matter that will have been discovered for the first time,” said Greene, “a particle with characteristics unlike any other.” He added that he hoped post-Higgs research would lead to more ways to “link up the physics of the very small with the physics of the very large,” joining particle with cosmology, for example, looking at the Big Bang as the largest particle accelerator ever.

Explore further

LHC experiments eliminate more Higgs hiding spots (Update)

Citation: Searching for the elusive Higgs Particle (2012, April 26) retrieved 17 October 2019 from
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Apr 26, 2012
From Article:
It portrays the Higgs field as a molasses-like substance holding everything together, and giving everything mass.
This is an extremely poor description of the Higgs Field and from that how do scientists expect to explain what the Higgs particle looks like.

Apr 26, 2012
By the way, someone has criticized that actually Higgs field is nothing but come back to the old aether concept! May be this paper could give a hint about it;


Apr 26, 2012
It's a bit confusing, I thought that the low energy Higgs that they are looking for was an extension to the Standard Model and that the Higgs that fits into the SM is trillions of times more energetic/smaller.
Can anyone elaborate?

Apr 26, 2012
May be this paper could give a hint about it;
Maybe this one would give a hint too. Higgs boson is an employment program without any underlying logic behind it. It's just a byproduct of incoherent math in similar way, like the gravitational waves, for example. It's not accidental, these two concepts are dual each other: the problem with identification of Higgs boson is just the quantum mechanics version of gravitational wave paradox in general relativity.

Apr 26, 2012
It portrays the Higgs field as a molasses-like substance
This naive model doesn't explain, why lightweight photons travels trough this molasses across whole universe as easily, as every heavy proton. Higgs field and mass have apparently nothing to do with kinematic viscosity of vacuum. IMO what the physicists are observing in LHC collider is the mirror version of dark matter foam observable at cosmological distances.

Apr 26, 2012
When we make a splash at the water surface, the ripples expand in regular rings just up to certain distance. Above this distance the ripples will form rather bunch of colliding solitons, which undergo the hyperspherical packing geometry described with Lie groups and which exhibits the pronounced dodecahedral symmetry with characteristic maxims at its power spectrum.

Due the presence of Brownian noise the similar dispersion of surface ripples occurs at the microscopic scale too. The tiny capillary ripples do disperse at the milimeter scale as chaotically, as the ripples at the long scale. And they do form a similar dodecahedral geometry, on which the E8 theory of Lissi Garrett is based. The dispersion curve of particle collisions (the diphoton decay channel in particular) therefore exhibits the similar power spectrum, like the CMBR - which leads to more than single "Higgs bosons" - probably three to five of them.

Apr 27, 2012
IMO what the physicists are observing in LHC collider is the mirror version of dark matter foam http://farm8.stat...96_z.jpg
observable at cosmological distances.
The image at the link looks like a galaxy filament.

Apr 27, 2012
This is an extremely poor description of the Higgs Field and from that how do scientists expect to explain what the Higgs particle looks like -TabulaMental

Fortunately scientists don't rely on dumbed down layman analogies, but on well founded mathematical models.

Apr 27, 2012
Fortunately scientists don't rely on dumbed down layman analogies, but on well founded mathematical models.
Of course, especially when it helps them to maintain the high occupation and income from grants. Why they should adjust their experiments and research paradigms in more effective way, until their money are going? As Robert Wilson, a former president of American Physical Society expressed clearly in his famous public memo (published in in the 1986, July issue of Physics Today, 39, 26), the community of physicists is not actually motivated on the ending of their research. They do need their jobs, pet theories, feed families and so on..

In Czech we have a proverb: "Carps never empty their own pond".

Apr 27, 2012
The image at the link looks like a galaxy filament.
Or string field or quantum foam - a term coined with J.A.Wheeler at the end of 60's. The space-time at small distance scale would appear in similar way. After all, every dense particle fluid appears in similar way - this is for example the picture of carbon dioxide supercritical fluid - the stringy structures are everywhere... If physicists would consider the dense aether model seriously, they could expect this structure already before many years.

Apr 29, 2012
"As Robert Wilson, a former president of American Physical Society expressed..."

What motivates you to troll a science forum with stuff like this? Are you bored?

Apr 29, 2012
This is simply how the "big physics" works and looks like, my dear. Robert R. Wilson was official head of American physics for twenty years, and the USA physics was a leader of the word physics. He was founder and head of Fermilab and most of high energy research in the USA and he administered billions dollars investments into it. He controlled publishing of all sensitive results of military research, which were significant with respect to development of nuclear weapons and undergoing Cold War era - so he probably believed, he can censor everything in physics like head of mafia. You cannot understand Wilson's memo without this context.

May 03, 2012
*facepalm* "Big Physics" conspiracy theories now? I don't doubt that politicking occurs within every professional field, but there is a reason why the above "alternative" theories referred to aren't being worked upon: because they don't have the evidence backing them and/or they are also bad in even the formulation of a workable theory. Rather than invest time and energy in gathering and testing, the proponents of these "alternative" theories seem to think that trolling science forums and articles will somehow validate their "theories". That's not how science or the scientific community works. You are wasting your time here if you honestly believe in the validity of your "alternative" theory.

May 03, 2012
"Big Physics" conspiracy theories now?
A conspiracy? The struggling for continuation of research jobs is common motivation for nearly all physicists. Prof. Wilson just named it clearly. Why do you think, most of physicists do ignore the cold fusion research obstinately? Because of fear for the lost of their own jobs, dedicated to research of alternative methods production, conversion, transfer or storage.
you honestly believe in the validity of your "alternative" theory
I don't believe in absolutely anything.

May 07, 2012
3D-Waveguided rest mass vs. illusive Higgs: The Gribov Periodical Multiverse - GPM concept, predicting YES-GHOSTLY COMPOSITE SUSY & NO-HIGGS and solving the united DE&DM problems, manifesting the promising GPM with plenty of dark civilizations around us (Gribov 2012. Dark Matter as Pico-Windows to physically equal Multiverse Worlds with Myriads Civilizations Around Us (in extra dimension). THE GPM density is ~10000000000/cm4 of identical gravity/antigravity Universes with period Lo4 = Compton length of electron. It discloses the 3D-waveguided nature of the SR & Equivalence Principle - GR & Diracian QM. It explains the DE&DM & flatness & bubbles structure (theoretical DE/(DM + OM) ~74%/26%, near to observations); predicts antigravity in the antimatter CERN / positronium Mills lab gravity tests; absence of elementary Sparticles & Higgs bosons.

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