Scientists are suggesting that by as early as this summer, they may have enough correlated data to pinpoint the Higgs boson, the still-theoretical linchpin to the Standard Model of cosmology that has earned the media nickname "the God particle."
Researchers at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, IL announced that over the last few years, they have found a "bump" in particle accelerator data collected in the 115 billion to 135 billion electron volt range. This corresponds roughly to similar findings announced in December 2011 by scientists at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) outside Geneva.
These "bumps" indicate the electromagnetic range where scientists (at least those still advocating the Standard Model) believe they are most likely to find the Higgs boson, which is theorized to impart mass to particles that — in the Standard Model — didn't have any right after the Big Bang. It's kind of a big deal when explaining why things fall when you drop them, etc.
As this report at Discovery.com notes, the Fermi results reported this week, from its Tevatron collider and other initiatives, narrow the electromagnetic range slightly from the earlier CERN reports. None of this constitutes "proof" of the Higgs boson — that's hard to come by in theoretical physics, under any circumstances — but the collective reports are certainly the most compelling argument to date in favor of the theory.
As we noted back in December, not every physicist buys into the Higgs boson or the Standard Model, and the range of speculation of what exactly the particle might do (assuming it exists) ranges widely. Theorists at Vanderbilt University suggested last year that the Higgs boson might travel through time in a sub-atomic kind of way. This evokes the M-theory, in which there may be 11 or so dimensions in play, so it might have that going for it.More about this topic on other CBS sites:
- Higgs boson search may be on brink of breakthrough (SmartPlanet)
- Higgs boson, you can run but you can't hide (CNET News)
- Elusive Higgs boson hinted at in US data (CBS News)
Ken Hardin is a freelance writer and business analyst with more than two decades in technology media and product development. Before founding his own consultancy, Clarity Answers LLC, Ken was a member of the start-up team and an executive with TechRepublic.com and ITBusinessEdge.com.