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Higgs boson: our understanding of the universe is about to change

I’m not saying it, CERN is: Higgs within reach – Our understanding of the universe is about to change… Scientists may have found the so-called Goddamn particle, eventually. Or at least what we would expect to see from the decay of a Higgs boson, which is part of a theory first proposed by physicist Peter Higgs in the 1960s.

But scientists still don’t know which Higgs boson it could be, the results presented today are preliminary, as the data from 2012 is still under analysis. If you’re still wondering what is the Higgs boson (basically, Higgs boson gives the particles -quarks and electrons- their mass), John Ellis, theoretical physicist, answered the question in this video.

From the press release:

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 Director Sergio Bertolucci. “ We stated last year that in 2012 we would either find a new Higgs-like particle or exclude the existence of the Standard Model Higgs. With all the necessary caution, it looks to me that we are at a branching point: the observation of this new particle indicates the path for the future towards a more detailed understanding of what we’re seeing in the data.”

It is indeed hard not to get excited by these results! Positive identification of the new particle’s characteristics will take considerable time and data. But whatever form the Higgs particle takes, our knowledge of the fundamental structure of matter is about to take a major step forward.

And to the most pessimists, Martin Archer, a physicist at Imperial College in London, told CNN: If we don’t see it, it actually means that the universe at the most fundamental level is more complicated than we thought,” says Archer, “and therefore maybe the way we’ve been attacking physics isn’t right.”

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