In a major press conference and seminar July 4, 2012 at CERN, it was announced that - by hurtling two 7 TeV (tera electron volts) proton beams at each other - a new particle was definitely found. This particle is in the mass region around 125-126 GeV (giga electron volts) and is at the level of 5 sigma, both of which are strong indicators that this is the Higgs Boson. As far as nuclear particles go, this is super-heavy - much heavier than a proton.
As Nick Heath on the TechRepublic European Technology blog writes, “If it is the Higgs it will be the final missing ingredient in the Standard Model of particle physics.” This is the “theory of everything,” at least as far as particle physics goes. It is thought that the Higgs Boson will shed some light on dark matter, which is the unseen matter that is believed to make up 96% of the universe.
This data is marked as preliminary, which means that after further analysis - and more collisions throughout the rest of the year - it may turn out to be some as-yet-not-considered particle instead of the Higgs Boson. Either way, this is definitely the largest boson ever discovered so it’s a major breakthrough. As the analysis and experiments continue, we should see further announcements confirming the exact nature of this particle and whether it is the Higgs Boson.
- The CERN tech that helped track down the God particle (TechRepublic)
- Photos from a celebration: The Higgs within reach (TechRepublic)
- Higgs boson researchers: We’ve spotted ‘new boson’ (CNET News)
- Understanding the Higgs boson (CNET News)
- Stephen Hawking: I lost a $100 bet over Higgs boson discovery (CNET News)
- Higgs boson-like particle discovery claimed at LHC (BBC News)
- LHC: Surprise and elation as signal crosses finish line (BBC News)
- At Long Last, The Higgs Particle… Maybe (Science Friday, NPR)
For more about the LHC and CERN, check out these TechRepublic posts:
- More findings narrow in on Higgs boson
- Cern: Cloud computing joins the hunt for the origins of the universe
- Cern: Where the Big Bang meets big data
- Inside the largest machine ever built
- Video: Inside the Large Hadron Collider
- Large Hadron Collider creates powerful collision
- Restarting the Large Hadron Collider after a 14-month hiatus
Note: TechRepublic and CNET are CBS Interactive sites.