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Higgs Boson Search: CERN Releases New Data Said To Narrow Hunt For 'God Particle'


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  • 5 months later...

From the guy I interviewed a while ago, he said that it was a good lead, but ultimately a false one. Scientists believe they are getting closer, but they're circling the sucker if it exists rather than zeroing in on it.

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  • 1 month later...


This is as big as the, well, big bang theory: Scientists working at the world's largest atom smasher say they have enough evidence of the long-sought-after Higgs boson.

To the layman, the Higgs boson is the "God particle" and a key puzzle piece in the scientific explanation of the origin of the universe. Physicists around the globe—and perhaps elsewhere, given the size of the universe—have invested billions of dollars in research and have been hunting for the Higgs boson for decades.

Researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (or CERN) are expected to announce Wednesday that they have proof of its existence, reports The Associated Press.

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I still don't understand this, but cool.

Some guy explained it to me a couple months ago, but I've already forgotten what the hell he was talking about. There are many things in the world that I don't understand, but certainly appreciate the results (for example, I have no idea how a computer processor works, but I'm really glad that someone else understands it and can manufacture it).

This Higgs Boson thing.... not really sure if i'll even be able to observe or appreciate the effects.

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Yeah, I'd love for one of the smart people we have wandering these parts to break it down all "God Particles for Dummies" style.

I mean, i know a few things cause I know how to read. It's the last particle to be found that was predicted by the standard model.

It's the particle that gives other particles their mass. I think.

It only lasts for an extremely short time before breaking down into other particles? So is that just way in the collider or is that the way they exist naturally? Not clear on that.

Also, now that we've found it, what does it mean for science going forward?

By the way, I've read or heard that scientists don't like the fact that it's nickanamed the "God particle". At least one guy has said he'd much rather call it the GD particle cause its been so hard to find all this time.

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A brief attempt at explaining why the higgs boson is important:

The way theoretical physics has worked for the past 40 years or so has been to come up with symmetries and then write down equations with all possible terms that posess this symmetry. One of the simplests symmetries to imagine is called parity:


so let's say I have a quantity that I can measure called x. Now suppose I want to write down a function of x that obeys this symmetry, what terms can I put in? Well a constant 1 is fine, so lets start there:

L = a * 1

now what about x itself?

L = a*1 + b*x

this won't work because when I put x -> -x L changes sign. That means L is not invariant under the symmetry so I have to throw out that term. What about x*x? that's fine, so now I have

L = a * 1 + c * x * x

What else can I put in? Even powers work. What about cosine? cos( -x ) = cos(x), but if you remember your calculus, cosine is really just 1 - x^2 + 1/4 x^4. So here's what physicsists did they came up with a bunch of symmetries, and then wrote down equations for all the matter that could possibly obey these symmetries. The most importnat of which is an idea called gauge symmetry.


Now, we write down all the terms that are consistent with our guage symmety and you see all the forces in the world ( except gravity ) just fall out. It's beutiful, it's elegant, everyone is excited. But wait there's a problem, none of the terms actually give mass to a few particles which we have observed and that definitely have masses. This is where the Higgs comes in, somebody comes up with a crazy ****amamie rube-goldberg method for adding mass to these particles. It could not be uglier. But years pass and no one has a better idea. When I was in grad school, one of my professors told me "you know how you know that no likes this theory? No one has their name on the standard model." ( It could have been called the Weinberg-Salaam-Glashow model, but they kept their names on the elegant part of the model )

So anyway that's my very top level view of why this is interesting. People did a bunch of math and basically tried to write down the most beautiful theory they could that could explain all the forces and observations they could in the fewest number of equations, and they couldn't do it without creating this crazy particle that stands out like a sore thumb, but here it is, and it looks like we've found it. So it's a pretty big deal.

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A more simplistic explanation.

The Higgs Boson is the last particle predicted by the standard model that hasn't been found. The standard model is the current model for essentially all matter and so things like quantum mechanics are essentially dependent upon the standard model (being right or wrong).

Finding the Higgs Boson would be another big piece in fullfilling the standard model and since it is the "missing" information allows you to test post-standard model "theories".

Why this is important is related to one of the fundamental issues with physics and that is the creation of grand unified theory. Currently, physics treats "big" things independently of "little" things.

Big things are essentially studied in the context of general realitivity (so gravity is a dominant force). Little things fall under the theories of particle physics (e.g. the standard model and quantum mechanics).

Ideally, we would like to describe the behavior of the big things based on our understanding of little things since the big things are made of little things. But we can't do that yet, and the undiscovered theory that would allow you to do so has been nicknamed the grand unifiying theory.

So since mass is related to gravity, it is hard to understand how gravity works if you don't really understand how mass works (how much does a Higgs Boson "weigh", what type of things affect its weight, etc.).

The hope is that a better understanding of what the Higgs Boson is will lead to a better understanding in terms of addressing these issues between the two branches of physics.

And essentially start to allow you to test the "theories" (e.g. string theory) trying to bridge the difference between the theories used to study subatomic particles (e.g the standard model) and general relativity.


Essentially information on the Higgs Boson allows you to test the next level of "theories" in physics, which at this point in time, have been largely untestable.

These theories, to a certain extent, have been "designed" with "current" information incorporated into them. To "test" them, you need more information. Higgs Boson information is that information.

These other theories are more specific than the standard model. For them, it isn't just necessary for there to be a Higgs-Boson, but the Higgs-Boson must have specific characteristics.

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I should point out that Einstein came up with his theory of realitivity and essentially concominantly people were working on the standard model and quantum mechamics.

Einstein particularly didn't like the idea of having two different sets of rules, one for "big" things and one for "little" things and spent a good chunk of his later life trying to work on a unified theory w/o much avail.

Essentially, anything in this area of physics that is of real interest (not that there aren't other things of interest in other areas of physics) is really at its heart about trying to nail down the parameters of what unified theory must look like.

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