Geneva, 4 July 2012. At a seminar held at CERN 1 today as a curtain raiser to the year’s major particle physics conference, ICHEP2012 in Melbourne, the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented their latest preliminary results in the search for the long sought Higgs particle. Both experiments observe a new particle in the mass region around 125-126 GeV.
“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,” said ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti, “but a little more time is needed to prepare these results for publication.” "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,” said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela. “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."
“It’s hard not to get excited by these results,” said CERN Research
A Higgs boson is an excitation – a fleeting, grainy representation – of the Higgs field, which extends throughout space and gives all other particles their mass.
At the instant of the big bang, everything was the same as everything else, a state of symmetry that lasted no time and was immediately broken. Particles of matter called fermions emerged from the sea of energy (mass and energy being interchangeable), including quarks and electrons that would much later form atoms. Along with them came force-carrying particles called bosons to rule how they all were related. All had different masses – sometimes wildly different masses.
Using the concepts of a Higgs field and Higgs boson, the Standard Model explains why quarks, protons, electrons, photons, and a wide-ranging zoo of other particles have the specific masses they do. Oddly, however, the Standard Model can’t predict the mass of the Higgs itself. That will only be learned from experiment.
At 125-216 GeV there are two predicted decay paths in the Standard Model
The two channels involved, called the two-photon channel and the four-lepton channel for short, are certainly not the most likely decay routes, says Beate Heinemann of Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division, who is also a professor in UC Berkeley’s Department of Physics. “The probability that a 125-GeV Higgs would decay into two gamma rays is about two tenths of one percent, and the likelihood that it would decay into four muons or electrons is even smaller.
Higgs Boson Explained by Cartoon
Illustrations Credit & Copyright: Jorge Cham, PHD Comics
Explanation: What is all this fuss about the Higgs boson? The physics community is abuzz that a fundamental particle expected by the largely successful Standard Model of particle physics may soon be found by the huge Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Europe. The term boson refers to a type of fundamental particle with similarities to the photon, while Higgs refers to Peter Higgs, a physicist who among others published research predicting the mechanism through which such a particle might act. The above animated cartoon explains in humorous but impressive detail why the Higgs boson is expected, and one method that the Large Hadron Collider is using to find it. Although some rumors hint that preliminary traces of the Higgs boson are already being found, even not finding this unusual particle would open the door to a new fundamental understanding of how our universe works.
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