Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland were down to their last chances at finding the elusive Higgs Boson, a field of particles that theoretically give all other particles their mass. The Higgs Boson was part of a Physics model that was called the “Theory of Everything”. This theory believes that everything must have mass in order for humans to understand it, and everything gets its mass from the Higgs Boson particle.
According to National Geographic, “The long-sought particle may complete the standard model of physics by explaining why objects in our universe have mass—and in so doing, why galaxies, planets, and even humans have any right to exist.”
If the Higgs Boson has not been found, the standard model of physics is called into question.
The scientists used the Large Hadron Collider to do a lot of smashing of protons, then they examined the rubble and the results. The Large Hadron Collider is the most powerful atom smasher ever made and is capable of producing a Higgs Boson. The scientists worked through sector after sector and were down to one final sector in January.
Here is why scientists believe that they have found the Higgs Boson:
The mass of the Higgs Boson is believed to be at 125 gigaelectron volts (GeV). GeV is the unit of mass used by particle physicists. Last December, scientists discovered a mass of around 125. A range of between 116 to 130 GeV would have been as exciting, but with 125 GeV is the optimal mass.
During the last few weeks, scientists have witnessed several more events that produced a mass of around 125 GeV, but there is no confirmation as to whether these events are the actual Higgs Boson. It will take until Summer of 2013 before a final answer will come.
The researchers must confirm that the event was not a statistical fluke, so they must give surety of 99 percent before a definite finding can be announced. The best so far is 95 percent, which explains the excessive caution in announcing that a 125 GeV mass was the Higgs Boson. The odds may be that the event was a statistical fluke, and that has to be almost completely ruled out before anyone can celebrate finding the so called “God Particle”.
Sigma is the notation for surety that the findings are a Higgs Boson. A “two sigma” (95%) result has been called on the latest findings, but the researchers must achieve a “five sigma” (99) percent surety.
Some scientists are wondering if the Higgs Boson is actually a combination of about five different particles, so those theories will also be tested to the maximum.
A National Geographic article reveals that the “Higgs bosons are thought to be extremely short-lived subatomic particles, so scientists can detect them only by spotting the particles into which the Higgs decays. But just as a vending machine might return the same amount of change using different coin combinations, the Higgs can decay into different combinations of other particles.”
The National Geographic has a Higgs boson interactive page.