Found? Tantalizing Hints of the Higgs

The Higgs Boson is an elusive, hypothesized particle. It is an essential part of the Standard Model of particle physics, but thus far it only exists in theory. This particle gives rise to the Higgs field, which in turn explains why elementary particles have mass. That sounds like an odd concept, but when you come right down to it, what is mass anyway? Think about that for a moment.

The Higgs has been searched for for a long time. Fermilab's Tevatron looked in vain for it.  The Large Hadron Collider built by CERN was created largely to look for this particle.

Now, scientists have accumulated enough data to detect a moderate signal in favor of the Higgs. At this point, the data is tantalizing, but by no means certain. Many more experiments will have to be conducted in order to say for certain whether the particle has been found. If it has, it will be a triumph of modern physics.

It seems odd that one would spend $10 billion dollars on finding something that may or may not exist, especially with many areas of science starved of funding. On the other hand, is it really possible to put a price tag on discovering the basic foundations of existence itself?

2 Responses

  1. Helmut Albrecht
    This could start an interesting philosophical discussion on the need of basic research vs. applied science.
  2. No disagreement with your main point. I didn't mean to imply, torhugh the current form of the webpage, that I'd been comprehensive. I used technicolor merely as an example of how there might be no Higgs, and supersymmetry as an example of how there could be quite a few Higgs particles. Of course there are other possibilities that we know about, and still others we haven't stumbled on yet. The one thing for sure is that if there is no Higgs, there is something else because the equations of the Standard Model are inconsistent as they stand on their own. Beyond that, nothing should be taken for granted.

Leave a comment