Wednesday, July 4, 2012

It's The Higgs Boson, Higgs-Damn It!

Or I suppose one could call it the "Dog particle" ... no scientist I know would willingly label it with a phrase meant more to hype an undeservedly popular book (even if the book is by a Nobel prizewinner) than to clarify scientific, let alone theological matters. The particle, found by the LHC's ATLAS and CMS experiments, is... well, let me yield to the authors of the CERN press release:
"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."
That certainly sounds like the Higgs particle required by the Standard Model, though they are wise to take the time to analyze the data more thoroughly. This is a great day for particle physics.

It could have been a wonderful 236th birthday present for America, except we were too damned cheap to build the superconducting super collider... America's abandonment of basic science funding from the era of Saint Ronald Reagan forward will eventually, one way or the other, render America either defunct or irrelevant.

Congrats to the CERN team responsible for the find, whatever it turns out to be.

ADDED: please read Matt Strassler at Of Particular Significance, my favorite young physicist and interpreter of particle physics matters for the general public, for an extremely and deservedly excited report of the status of the Higgs search. (Some physics specifics, not all easy for the layperson to understand, but not so as to overwhelm us.)

ADDED: Need an intro to the Higgs field and particle? Strassler's got you covered.

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