The Higgs boson ‘God Particle’ discovery explained in the context of conscious cosmology

Mike Adams
Natural News
Thursday, July 5, 2012

The ultimate goal of the study of physics is to decode the rules and laws of the universe; to understand what “makes it all tick,” so to speak. That goal, of course, has remained elusive, but great strides have been made toward it over the last few thousand years. Newton’s formulations of the laws of gravity, Kepler’s laws of motion, Bohr’s modeling of the atom, Maxwell’s equations on electromagnetic behavior… these all contributed to a deeper understanding of the very fabric of reality. Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity, and then General Relativity, soon followed.

Our understanding of physics accelerated throughout the 20th century with theories on the Big Bang, inflation and the inflaton field, string theory, M-theory, supersymmetry, quantum mechanics, parallel worlds, bubble universes and much more. It’s truly fascinating to observe all this as a conscious being sitting inside the very universe we’re all trying to figure out, and one thing I really appreciate about physicists in general is that they require an extraordinarily convincing burden of proof before they announce something to be “discovered.”

That’s in great contrast to the pharmaceutical industry which essentially just “makes stuff up” and passes it off as “science.” Drug companies give science a terrible name, but physicists are the redeeming individuals who help restore credibility to the very name “science.”

(For example, in clinical drug trials, a pharmaceutical only has to work on five percent of the test group in order to receive FDA approval as “safe and effective for everyone!” In the realm of particle physics and cosmology, however, experiments usually have to reach a level of certainty approaching 2,999,999 out of three million (5 sigma), thereby leaving only one chance in three million of the conclusion being wrong. Now that’s what I call confidence!)

This is why physicists, chemists and other “hard sciences” people who end up throwing their hats in with the pharmaceutical / vaccine / chemotherapy industries only end up discrediting themselves. The for-profit health care industry is largely based on quackery that merely borrows the label of “science” but follows none of its stringent requirements for proof. Physics and cosmology, in great contrast, has (almost) nothing to patent and nothing to sell to the public at monopolistic prices. Particle physics, cosmology and even quantum field theory is truly all about the quest for knowledge and not about hyping up some false pandemic to sell more dangerous vaccines to an unsuspecting public.

Even with the extreme attention to evidentiary detail, however, there’s still something the physicists have been overlooking for a long, long time: Consciousness.

The quest for particles (while ignoring consciousness)

Why would anyone want to spend a few billion dollars smashing atoms together and analyzing the results of the splatter? To find out what atoms are made of, of course. But more importantly, to find out what the universe is made of. That’s what CERN is all about, and as long as its results are understood in the proper context, it’s valuable science.

There’s a huge gap in all this, unfortunately, and that gap has its origins in the thinking that atoms are made entirely of particles. The wildly misnamed “God particle” known as Higgs boson has been the single most sought-after particle by physicists in their quest to find physical evidence to back up their mathematical equations of the “Standard Model” of the universe.

To understand why that matters, let’s back up for a minute. Physicists and especially cosmologists spend an enormous amount of time working in the abstract realm of mathematics. The purpose of the mathematics is to attempt to model physical reality, which is, of course, engineered into the fabric of the universe with the language of mathematics. (Consciousness is also woven into the fabric of reality, many argue, but that’s a subject I’ll revisit later.)

What’s often lacking in this scientific quest is physical experimental evidence that backs up the math. So it only makes sense to attempt to conduct real-world experiments to either prove or disprove what the theory predicts. That’s what CERN is all about. Now that the Higgs particle has been convincingly demonstrated to exist, this helps nail down all sorts of answers, thereby leading to a deeper exploration of other questions, each of which grants a measure of understanding to human civilization.

Ultimately, physicists are attempting to understand the origins of the universe, which has turned out to be a tricky question for lots of reasons, some of which are almost impossible to imagine. In addition to the parallel worlds and multiverse theories that have joined the complexities, there is also “brane theory” to deal with. It’s a theory that says, in a nutshell, multiple universescoexist intertwined with each other but not interacting. You can’t touch another brane world even though it may exist right alongside our own brane world.

What’s important to realize in all this is that even the so-called “Standard Model” of explaining everything is currently an unsatisfactory patchwork of equations and mathematical transformations that don’t play well together when it comes to different physical contexts such as really small things or really large, massive things. Try to meld large-scale equations of gravity, for example, with really small phenomena such as quantum fluctuations of atomic nuclei, and you get nonsensical mathematical answers such as “the answer is X divided by zero!”

Virtually all present-day reality modeling equations break down at singularity events such as black holes, too. The Standard Model is seriously lacking, in other words, and one of the reasons there is so much excitement about Higgs boson is because it would help fill in the gaps of the Standard Model explanation.

There’s little doubt that the Standard Model is only a temporary quick fix in the bigger picture, of course. It’s not “wrong” in the sense of being terribly incorrect; it’s most likely just incomplete. Ultimately, physicists hope to find a “unified theory” that explains everything with a single set of mathematical understandings and equations that apply to all observable phenomena in the universe: electromagnetism, gravity, mass, light and so on. Einstein spent a considerable portion of his life in search of the unification of these fundamental forces but was unable to achieve it. This is a goal of understanding that may yet take lifetimes to achieve.

If it were achieved, it would represent one of the most profound achievements in the history of humankind.

Conscious cosmology

Yet, as I hinted above, there’s still something missing from all this: Consciousness. Without consciousness, the universe cannot be fully explained, as consciousness is increasingly emerging as a fundamental force impacting the very fabric of reality. This is really, really frustrating for many scientists because, for starters, the majority of them don’t even believe in the existence of consciousness. Stephen Hawking is famous for his rather short-sighted remarks that people are mindless, soulless beings — “biological robots” — and that religion / spirituality is a realm for “people who are afraid of the dark.”

He titles chapters of his book, “The Theory of Everything” and yet does not even acknowledge the existence of consciousness or free will — two things that are fundamentally tied into quantum theory equations in the context of the “Observer.” It goes without saying that until modern-day physicists can embrace and attempt to understand consciousness and the role of the Observer in shaping the physical universe, even their most determined efforts to find a unified theory of everything will come up short.

This is frustrating for physicists because, to date, there are no equations that describe the behavior or properties of consciousness. Although consciousness can be experienced first-hand by conscious beings, it so far has defied measurement and experimental validation. How can anyone prove consciousness exists? Other than the fact that it is self-evident to those who possess it, is there an independent way to measure it and thereby confirm its existence?

This may ultimately prove impossible because of an error in the question. An “independent” measurement, in classical physics, describes a measurement being conducted by a mechanism that has no ties to any conscious observer. Yet in order to become aware of the measurements, a conscious being must, one way or another, interact with the results of the experiment. This interaction, as quantum theorists are increasingly realizing, is itself part of the experiment and may alter its outcomes even after the fact. The Observer cannot be isolated from the events observed.

This also means that all of today’s science is, in fact, biased toward consciousness. All the evidence that makes up the entire history of known science suffers from a glaring “selection bias” because it was all observed and selected by conscious beings. Even this recent Higgs boson discovery may have been brought into existence solely because so many conscious beings were focused on bringing into reality what they imagined to be real. I know this almost starts to sound New-Agey, but such is the nature of things in a conscious universe: All science being conducted today is carried out under the influence of “consciousness bias.” And so we need to understand what this means and how it impacts our understanding of reality.

Gaining a deep understanding of this may be exceedingly difficult for human beings to achieve. It may, in fact, be beyond the capabilities of biological beings with limited neurological capacity. Nevertheless, I believe that the more modern science understands about the Higgs boson, quantum theory, particle physics and cosmology, the closer science will be to initiating a scientific study of consciousness.

We’ve got to get the hard sciences out of the way first, in other words, before the interaction between mind and matter can even be approached.

Consciousness, parallel worlds and more

Consciousness, you see, isn’t made of particles. Thus, you can’t smash consciousness in a particle accelerator and hope to see the tiny bits of what it’s made of. (You can crush free will, of course, but that takes a government.) Yet there is increasingly compelling evidence that consciousness interacts with the physical world and may even create parallel physical worlds when it is exercised. Hints of this are emerging from the study of quantum physics, which immediately leads to the possibility of “multiple worlds” and parallel realities.

The search for Higgs boson, ultimately, is an important one, but the approach is incomplete if our civilization seeks to uncover the fundamental forces that unify our observable universe. Those forces do not exist in a vacuum absent the minds of the conscious inhabitants of the universe. Where there is life, there appears to be consciousness, and if there’s one thing most physicists and cosmologists agree on, it’s that life is ridiculously abundant across the cosmos. Not in terms of units of life per square meter, of course, since most of the universe is, physically speaking, just empty space. The average density of the known universe (roughly 28 billion light years across) has been estimated at 6 hydrogen atoms per cubic meter. That’s a lot of empty space, but it’s filled with literally trillions of stars, each of which may harbor life and therefore consciousness.

To achieve a fundamental understanding of the origins and mechanisms of our known universe without factoring in the impact of consciousness and the conscious observer is, to put it bluntly, a blind approach to ultimate understanding. It’s like trying to bake a cake but leaving out the flour. The recipe of reality from which our universe has sprung must take into account consciousness. If it does not, no unification of fundamental forces will ever be complete, I believe.

Who or what created our reality?

Then there is the question of the Architect of this reality. Even if humankind manages to decode the fundamental laws which govern the physical universe, there’s not only the question of “Who or what created the universe in the first place” but the even more difficult question, “Who or what created the laws of physics that govern the universe?”

Because on that question, even a particle accelerator the size of the entire planet can’t shed a single photon of light on the question. The consensus view in physics circles today — which is dominated, remember, by people who don’t believe in consciousness or free will — is that our universe created itself out of nothing, without any intelligent intervention. This is a strange argument of “effect without a cause,” and it simply doesn’t add up.

The far more believable argument is that our universe was created by a Great Intelligence — an Architect or Creator, if you will. The explanations for this Creator run the gamut. Several prominent physicists are right now suggesting that our universe is a simulation, a physics experiment created by a vastly superior race of beings who inhabit a higher dimension. On the more spiritual side, the explanation quickly centers on a single consciousness known as God. There are seemingly endless additional theories and thoughts on this subject involving a vast array of philosophical and religious beliefs, but they all have in common one idea which should be obvious to even a brilliant physicist: The reason there is something rather than nothing is becausesomeone (or something) had to put it there, and that means there is an intelligence — a consciousness — that exists above and beyond our known universe. Something with the power to create our known universe, in other words.

That creative force / intelligence / consciousness is what I call The Divine. It is divine because it is a Creator in every sense of the word. It creates realities. It carefully selects cosmological constants so that those realities have the capacity to support life. It imbues that life with small slices of consciousness and grants that life the capacity for self awareness and self determination.

These are divine concepts that underpin the deepest inner workings of our universe… far beyond Higgs boson or any theory of particle physics. This gets to the Creator behind the very laws of physics. How was the framework of quantum mechanics created in the first place? Who selected and fine-tuned the cosmological constants to support the formation of stars? How was the framework of dark matter and dark energy engineered?

I intend to begin exploring precisely these questions in a series of upcoming videos and articles on NaturalNews and other websites. I call this “exploring conscious cosmology,” and in my view, it dwarfs the importance of almost anything else that might normally concern us, including politics, nutrition and even exposing fraud.

Watch for announcements on “conscious cosmology” here on

And yes, for the record, in case you were wondering, I am trained in the sciences and have long been a student of many fields of knowledge, including physics, philosophy, cosmology, anthropology, neurology and spirituality. I’m not a master in any of these fields but rather a student of them all. My strength is in understanding complex concepts and explaining them in simple, everyday terms, usually in a way that’s interesting to read. I intend to bring that skill to the forefront as I spend more time focusing on conscious cosmology which necessarily encompasses philosophy, spirituality, quantum theory, physics and more.

After all, if we are conscious beings, shouldn’t we exercise our consciousness and do something with it?


God particle: Physicists celebrate Higgs boson ‘triumph’

The revelation that the long-sought particle had almost certainly been detected in the Large Hadron Collider’s 17-mile track prompts scientists to erupt with joy.


By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times

July 4, 2012, 6:50 p.m.

For physicists, it was a moment like landing on the moon or the discovery of DNA.

The focus was the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that exists for a mere fraction of a second. Long theorized but never glimpsed, the so-called God particle is thought to be key to understanding the existence of all mass in the universe. The revelation Wednesday that it — or some version of it — had almost certainly been detected amid more than hundreds of trillions of high-speed collisions in a 17-mile track near Geneva prompted a group of normally reserved scientists to erupt with joy.

Peter Higgs, one of the scientists who first hypothesized the existence of the particle, reportedly shed tears as the data were presented in a jampacked and applause-heavy seminar at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.


"It’s a gigantic triumph for physics," said Frank Wilczek, anMIT physicist and Nobel laureate. "It’s a tremendous demonstration of a community dedicated to understanding nature."

The achievement, nearly 50 years in the making, confirms physicists’ understanding of how mass — the stuff that makes stars, planets and even people — arose in the universe, they said.

It also points the way toward a new path of scientific inquiry into the mass-generating mechanism that was never before possible, said UCLA physicist Robert Cousins, a member of one of the two research teams that have been chasing the Higgs boson at CERN.

"I compare it to turning the corner and walking around a building — there’s a whole new set of things you can look at," he said. "It is a beginning, not an end."

Leaders of the two teams reported independent results that suggested the existence of a previously unseen subatomic particle with a mass of about 125 billion to 126 billion electron volts. Both groups got results at a "five sigma" level of confidence — the statistical requirement for declaring a scientific "discovery."

"The chance that either of the two experiments had seen a fluke is less than three parts in 10 million," said UC San Diego physicist Vivek Sharma, a former leader of one of the Higgs research groups. "There is no doubt that we have found something."

But he and others stopped just shy of saying that this new particle was indeed the long-sought Higgs boson. "All we can tell right now is that it quacks like a duck and it walks like a duck," Sharma said.

In this case, quacking was enough for most.

"If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably at least a bird," said Wilczek, who stayed up past 3 a.m. to watch the seminar live over the Web while vacationing in New Hampshire.

Certainly CERN leaders in Geneva, even as they referred to their discovery simply as "a new particle," didn’t bother hiding their excitement.

The original plan had been to present the latest results on the Higgs search at the International Conference on High Energy Physics, a big scientific meeting that began Wednesday in Melbourne.

But as it dawned on CERN scientists that they were on the verge of "a big announcement," Cousins said, officials decided to honor tradition and instead present the results on CERN’s turf.

The small number of scientists who theorized the existence of the Higgs boson in the 1960s — including Higgs of the University of Edinburgh — were invited to fly to Geneva.

For the non-VIP set, lines to get into the auditorium began forming late Tuesday. Many spent the night in sleeping bags.

All the hubbub was due to the fact that the discovery of the Higgs boson is the last piece of the puzzle needed to complete the so-called Standard Model of particle physics — the big picture that describes the subatomic particles that make up everything in the universe, and the forces that work between them.

Over the course of the 20th century, as physicists learned more about the Standard Model, they struggled to answer one very basic question: Why does matter exist?

Higgs and others came up with a possible explanation: that particles gain mass by traveling through an energy field. One way to think about it is that the field sticks to the particles, slowing them down and imparting mass.

Higgs boson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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"God particle" redirects here. For the book, see The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?.

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Higgs boson

CMS Higgs-event.jpg
One possible signature of a Higgs boson from a simulated proton–proton collision. It decays almost immediately into two jets of hadrons and two electrons, visible as lines.[Note 1]

Elementary particle


Tentatively confirmed – a particle "consistent with" the Higgs boson has been formally discovered, but as of July 2012, scientists are being cautious as to whether it is formally identified as being the Higgs boson.[1]


R. Brout, F. Englert, P. Higgs,G. S. Guralnik, C. R. Hagen, and T. W. B. Kibble (1964)

ATLAS and CMS (2012)

1 in the Standard Model;
5 or more in supersymmetricmodels

125.3±0.6 GeV/c2[2], ∼126.5 GeV/c2[3]

Electric charge


In the Standard Model of particle physics, the Higgs boson is a hypothetical elementary particle, a boson, that is the quantum of the Higgs field. The field and the particle provide a testable hypothesis for the origin of mass in elementary particles. In popular culture, the Higgs boson is also called the God particle, a name disliked by many scientists,[4] after the title of Nobel physicist Leon Lederman’s The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question? (1993), which contained the author’s assertion that the discovery of the particle is crucial to a final understanding of the structure of matter.


The existence of the Higgs boson was predicted in 1964 to explain the Higgs mechanism (sometimes termed in the literature the Brout-Englert-Higgs, BEH or Brout-Englert-Higgs-Hagen-Guralnik-Kibble mechanism after its original proposers[5][6]) – the mechanism by which elementary particles are given mass.[Note 2] While the Higgs mechanism is considered confirmed to exist, the boson itself—a cornerstone of the leading theory—had not been observed and its existence was unconfirmed. Its tentative discovery in July 2012 may validate the Standard Model as essentially correct, as it is the final elementary particle predicted and required by the Standard Model which has not yet been observed via particle physics experiments.[7]Alternative sources of the Higgs mechanism that do not need the Higgs boson also are possible and would be considered if the existence of the Higgs boson were to be ruled out. They are known as Higgsless models.

The Higgs boson is named after Peter Higgs, who in 1964 wrote one of three ground-breaking papers covering what is now known as the Higgs mechanism and described the related Higgs field and boson. The three papers were written almost simultaneously. Though Higgs’s paper did not came first: the paper by Robert Brout and François Englert was published a month earlier. Tom Kibble, C. R. Hagen and Gerald Guralnik‘s work was the last in the row and made a reference to the work by Brout and Englert.

Technically, it is the quantum excitation of the Higgs field, and the non-zero value of the ground state of this field gives mass to the other elementary particles such as quarks and electrons through the Higgs mechanism. The Standard Model completely fixes the properties of the Higgs boson, except for its mass. It is expected to have no spin and no electric or colour charge, and it interacts with other particles through the weak interaction and Yukawa-type interactions between the various fermions and the Higgs field.

Because the Higgs boson is a very massive particle and decays almost immediately when created, only a very high energy particle accelerator can observe and record it. Experiments to confirm and determine the nature of the Higgs boson using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN began in early 2010, and were performed at Fermilab‘s Tevatron until its close in late 2011. Mathematical consistency of the Standard Model requires that any mechanism capable of generating the masses of elementary particles become visible at energies above 1.4 TeV;[8] therefore, the LHC (designed to collide two 7 TeV proton beams, but currently running at 4 TeV each) was built to answer the question of whether or not the Higgs boson exists.[9]

On 4 July 2012, the two main experiments at the LHC (ATLAS and CMS) both reported independently the confirmed existence of a previously unknown particle with a mass of about 125 GeV/c2 (about 133 proton masses, on the order of 10−25 kg), which is "consistent with the Higgs boson" and widely believed to be the Higgs boson. They acknowledged that further work would be needed to confirm that it is indeed the Higgs boson and not some other previously unknown particle (meaning that it has the theoretically predicted properties of the Higgs boson) and, if so, to determine which version of the Standard Model it best supports.[1][2][3][10][11]

General description

Main article: Introduction to the Higgs field

This section needs additionalcitations for verification. (July 2012)

In particle physics, elementary particles and forces give rise to the world around us. Physicists explain the behaviors of these particles and how they interact using the Standard Model—a widely accepted framework believed to explain most of the world we see around us. Initially, when these models were being developed and tested, it seemed that the mathematics behind those models, which were satisfactory in areas already tested, would also forbid elementary particles from having any mass, which showed clearly that these initial models were incomplete. In 1964 three groups of physicists almost simultaneously released papers describing how masses could be given to these particles, using approaches known as symmetry breaking. This approach allowed the particles to obtain a mass, without breaking other parts of particle physics theory that were already believed reasonably correct. This idea became known as the Higgs mechanism (not the same as the boson), and later experiments confirmed that such a mechanism does exist—but they could not show exactly how it happens.

The leading and simplest theory for how this effect takes place in nature was that if a particular kind of "field" (known as a Higgs field) happened to permeate space, and if it could interact with fundamental particles in a particular way, then this would give rise to a Higgs mechanism in nature, and would therefore create around us the phenomenon we call "mass". During the 1960s and 1970s the Standard Model of physics was developed on this basis, and it included a prediction and requirement that for these things to be true, there had to be an undiscovered boson—one of thefundamental particles—as the counterpart of this field. This would be the Higgs boson. If the Higgs boson was confirmed to exist, as the Standard Model suggested, then scientists could be satisfied that the Standard Model was fundamentally correct. If the Higgs boson was confirmed as not existing, then other theories would be considered as candidates instead.

The Standard Model also made clear that the Higgs boson would be very difficult to demonstrate. It exists for only a tiny fraction of a second before breaking up into other particles—so quickly that it cannot be directly detected—and can be detected only by identifying the results of its immediate decay and analyzing them to show they were probably created from a Higgs boson and not some other source. The Higgs boson requires so much energy to create (compared to many other fundamental particles) that it also requires a massive particle accelerator to create collisions energetic enough to create it and record the traces of its decay. Given a suitable accelerator and appropriate detectors, scientists can record trillions of particles colliding, analyze the data for collisions likely to be a Higgs boson, and then perform further analysis to test how likely it is that the results combined show a Higgs boson does exist, and that the results are not just due to chance.

Experiments to try to show whether the Higgs boson did or did not exist began in the 1980s, but until the 2000s it could only be said that certain areas were plausible, or ruled out. In 2008 the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was inaugurated, being the most powerful particle accelerator ever built. It was designed especially for this experiment, and other very high energy tests of the Standard Model. In 2010 it began its primary research role which was to prove whether or not the Higgs boson existed.

In late 2011 two of the LHC’s experiments independently began to suggest "hints" of a Higgs boson detection around 125 GeV. (A GeV is used as a unit of particle mass. Using Einstein’s famous equation E=mc2, scientists use small energy units to describe particle masses. A GeV can be thought of as the energy of a billion electrons crossing the poles of a one-volt battery.) In July 2012 CERN announced[1] evidence of discovery of a boson with an energy level and other properties consistent with those expected in a Higgs boson. The available data raised a high statistical likelihood that the Higgs boson had been detected. Further work is necessary for the evidence to be considered conclusive (or disproved). If the newly discovered particle is indeed the Higgs boson, attention will turn to considering whether its characteristics match one of the extant versions of the Standard Model. The CERN data include clues that the additional bosons or similar-mass particles may have been discovered as well as, or instead of, the Higgs itself. If a different boson were confirmed, it would allow and require the development of new theories to supplant the current Standard Model.


See also: 1964 PRL symmetry breaking papers and Higgs mechanism

AIP-Sakurai-best.JPG Higgs, Peter (1929) cropped.jpg

The six authors of the 1964 PRL papers, who received the 2010 J. J. Sakurai Prize for their work. From left to right: Kibble, Guralnik, Hagen,Englert, Brout. Right: Higgs.

Particle physicists study matter which is made from fundamental particles whose interactions are mediated by exchange particles known as force carriers. At the beginning of the 1960s a number of these particles had been discovered or proposed, along with theories suggesting how they relate to each other, however even accepted versions such as the Unified field theory were known to be incomplete. One omission was that they could not explain the origins of mass as a property of matter. Goldstone’s theorem, relating to continuous symmetries within some theories, also appeared to rule out many obvious solutions.[12]

The Higgs mechanism is a process by which vector bosons can get rest mass without explicitly breaking gauge invariance. The proposal for such a spontaneous symmetry breaking mechanism originally was suggested in 1962 by Philip Warren Anderson[13] and developed into a full relativistic model in 1964, independently and almost simultaneously, by three groups of physicists: by François Englert and Robert Brout;[14] by Peter Higgs;[15] and by Gerald Guralnik, C. R. Hagen, and Tom Kibble (GHK).[16] Properties of the model were further considered by Guralnik in 1965 [17] and by Higgs in 1966.[18] The papers showed that when a gauge theory is combined with an additional field that spontaneously breaks the symmetry group, the gauge bosons can consistently acquire a finite mass. In 1967, Steven Weinberg and Abdus Salam were the first to apply the Higgs mechanism to the breaking of the electroweak symmetry, and showed how a Higgs mechanism could be incorporated into Sheldon Glashow‘s electroweak theory,[19][20][21] in what became the Standard Model of particle physics.

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The three papers written in 1964 were each recognized as milestone papers during Physical Review Letters‘s 50th anniversary celebration.[22] Their six authors were also awarded the 2010 J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics for this work.[23] (A dispute also arose the same year; in the event of a Nobel Prize up to three scientists would be eligible, with six authors credited for the papers.[24] ) Two of the three PRL papers (by Higgs and by GHK) contained equations for the hypothetical field that eventually would become known as the Higgs field and its hypothetical quantum, the Higgs boson. Higgs’ subsequent 1966 paper showed the decay mechanism of the boson; only a massive boson can decay and the decays can prove the mechanism.

In the paper by Higgs the boson is massive, and in a closing sentence Higgs writes that "an essential feature" of the theory "is the prediction of incomplete multiplets of scalar and vector bosons". In the paper by GHK the boson is massless and decoupled from the massive states. In reviews dated 2009 and 2011, Guralnik states that in the GHK model the boson is massless only in a lowest-order approximation, but it is not subject to any constraint and acquires mass at higher orders, and adds that the GHK paper was the only one to show that there are no massless Goldstone bosons in the model and to give a complete analysis of the general Higgs mechanism.[25][26]

In addition to explaining how mass is acquired by vector bosons, the Higgs mechanism also predicts the ratio between the W boson and Z boson masses as well as their couplings with each other and with the Standard Model quarks and leptons. Subsequently, many of these predictions have been verified by precise measurements performed at the LEP and the SLC colliders, thus overwhelmingly confirming that some kind of Higgs mechanism does take place in nature,[27] but the exact manner by which it happens has not yet been discovered. The results of searching for the Higgs boson are expected to provide evidence about how this is realized in nature.

Theoretical properties

Main article: Higgs mechanism

Summary of interactions between particles described by the Standard Model.

A one-loop Feynman diagram of the first-order correction to the Higgs mass. The Higgs boson couples strongly to the top quark so it may, if heavy enough, decay into top–anti-top quark pairs.

The Standard Model predicts the existence of a field, called the Higgs field, which has a non-zero amplitude in its ground state; i.e. a non-zero vacuum expectation value. The existence of this non-zero vacuum expectationspontaneously breaks electroweak gauge symmetry which in turn gives rise to the Higgs mechanism. It is the simplest process capable of giving mass to the gauge bosons while remaining compatible with gauge theories.[citation needed] The field can be pictured as a pool of molasses that "sticks" to the otherwise massless fundamental particles that travel through the field, converting them into particles with mass that form (for example) the components of atoms. Its quantum would be a scalar boson, known as the Higgs boson.[citation needed]

In the Standard Model, the Higgs field consists of two neutral and two charged component fields. Both of the charged components and one of the neutral fields are Goldstone bosons, which act as the longitudinal third-polarization components of the massive W+, W, and Z bosons.[citation needed] The quantum of the remaining neutral component corresponds to (and is theoretically realized as) the massive Higgs boson. Since the Higgs field is a scalar field, the Higgs boson has no spin. The Higgs boson is also its own antiparticle and is CP-even, and has zero electric and colour charge.[citation needed]

The Standard Model does not predict the mass of the Higgs boson.[citation needed] If that mass is between 115 and 180 GeV/c2, then the Standard Model can be valid at energy scales all the way up to the Planck scale (1016TeV).[citation needed] Many theorists expect new physics beyond the Standard Model to emerge at the TeV-scale, based on unsatisfactory properties of the Standard Model.[citation needed] The highest possible mass scale allowed for the Higgs boson (or some other electroweak symmetry breaking mechanism) is 1.4 TeV; beyond this point, the Standard Model becomes inconsistent without such a mechanism, because unitarity is violated in certain scattering processes.[citation needed]

In theory, the mass of the Higgs boson may be estimated indirectly. In the Standard Model, the Higgs boson has a number of indirect effects; most notably, Higgs loops result in tiny corrections to masses of W and Z bosons. Precision measurements of electroweak parameters, such as the Fermi constant and masses of W/Z bosons, can be used to constrain the mass of the Higgs. As of July 2011, the precision electroweak measurements tell us that the mass of the Higgs boson is lower than about 161 GeV/c2 at 95% confidence level (CL). This upper bound increases to 185 GeV/c2 when including the LEP-2 direct search lower bound of 114.4 GeV/c2.[27] These indirect constraints rely on the assumption that the Standard Model is correct. It may still be possible to discover a Higgs boson above 185 GeV/c2 if it is accompanied by other particles beyond those predicted by the Standard Model.[citation needed]

The minimal Standard Model as described above contains only one complex isospin Higgs doublet, however, it also is possible to have an extended Higgs sector with additional doublets or triplets. The non-minimal Higgs sector favored by theory are the two-Higgs-doublet models (2HDM), which predict the existence of a quintet of scalar particles: two CP-even neutral Higgs bosons h0 and H0, a CP-odd neutral Higgs boson A0, and two charged Higgs particles H±. The key method to distinguish different variations of the 2HDM models and the minimal SM involves their coupling and the branching ratios of the Higgs decays. The so called Type-I model has one Higgs doublet coupling to up and down quarks, while the second doublet does not couple to quarks. This model has two interesting limits, in which the lightest Higgs doesn’t couple to either fermions (fermiophobic) or gauge bosons (gauge-phobic). In the 2HDM of Type-II, one Higgs doublet only couples to up-type quarks, while the other only couples to down-type quarks.

Many extensions to the Standard Model, including supersymmetry (SUSY), often contain an extended Higgs sector. Many supersymmetric models predict that the lightest Higgs boson will have a mass only slightly above the current experimental limits, at around 120 GeV/c2 or less.[citation needed] The heavily researched Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model (MSSM) belongs to the class of models with a Type-II two-Higgs-doublet sector and could be ruled out by the observation of a Higgs belonging to a Type-I 2HDM.

Alternative mechanisms for electroweak symmetry breaking

Main article: Higgsless model

In the years since the Higgs field and boson were proposed, several alternative models have been proposed by which the Higgs mechanism might be realized. The Higgs boson exists in some, but not all, theories. For example, it exists in the Standard Model and extensions such as theMinimal Supersymmetric Standard Model yet is not expected to exist in alternative models such as Technicolor. Models which do not include a Higgs field or a Higgs boson are known as Higgsless models. In these models, strongly interacting dynamics rather than an additional (Higgs) field produce the non-zero vacuum expectation value that breaks electroweak symmetry. A partial list of these alternative mechanisms are:

A goal of the LHC and Tevatron experiments is to distinguish between these models and determine if the Higgs boson exists or not.

Experimental search

Ambox currentevent.svg

This section documents a current event. Information may change rapidly as the event progresses. (July 2012)

Status as of March 2011.[citation needed] Coloured sections have been ruled out to the stated confidence intervals either by indirect measurements and LEP experiments (green) or by Tevatronexperiments (orange).

Gluon-top-higgs.svg BosonFusion-Higgs.svg

Feynman diagrams showing two ways the Higgs boson might be produced at the LHC. Left: two gluons convert to top/anti-top quark pairs, which combine. Right: two quarks emit W or Z bosons, which combine.

Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Large Hadron Collider

Like other massive particles (e.g. the top quark and W and Z bosons), Higgs bosons created in particle accelerators decay long before they reach any of the detectors. However, the Standard Model precisely predicts the possible modes of decay and their probabilities. This allows the creation of a Higgs boson to be shown by careful examination of the decay products of collisions. The experimental search therefore commenced in the 1980s with the opening of particle accelerators sufficiently powerful to provide evidence related to the Higgs boson.

Prior to the year 2000, data gathered at the Large Electron–Positron Collider (LEP) at CERN had allowed an experimental lower bound to be set for the mass of the Standard Model Higgs boson of 114.4 GeV/c2 at the 95%confidence level (CL). The same experiment has produced a small number of events that could be interpreted as resulting from Higgs bosons with a mass just above this cut off — around 115 GeV — but the number of events was insufficient to draw definite conclusions.[32] The LEP was shut down in 2000 due to construction of its successor, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

Full operation at the LHC was delayed for 14 months from its initial successful tests on 10 September 2008, until mid-November 2009,[33][34] following a magnet quench event nine days after its inaugural tests that damaged over 50 superconducting magnets and contaminated the vacuum system.[35] The quench was traced to a faulty electrical connection and repairs took several months;[36][37] electrical fault detection and rapid quench-handling systems were also upgraded.

At the Fermilab Tevatron, there were also ongoing experiments searching for the Higgs boson. As of July 2010, combined data from CDF and experiments at the Tevatron were sufficient to exclude the Higgs boson in the range 158-175 GeV/c2 at 95% CL.[38][39] Preliminary results as of July 2011 extended the excluded region to the range 156-177 GeV/c2 at 95% CL.[40]

Data collection and analysis in search of Higgs intensified from 30 March 2010 when the LHC began operating at 3.5 TeV.[41] Preliminary results from the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the LHC as of July 2011 exclude a Standard Model Higgs boson in the mass range 155-190 GeV/c2[42] and 149-206 GeV/c2,[43] respectively, at 95% CL. All of the above confidence intervals were derived using the CLs method.

As of December 2011 the search had narrowed to the approximate region 115–130 GeV with a specific focus around 125 GeV where both the ATLAS and CMS experiments independently report an excess of events,[44][45] meaning that a higher than expected number of particle patterns compatible with the decay of a Higgs boson were detected in this energy range. The data was insufficient to show whether or not these excesses were due to background fluctuations (i.e. random chance or other causes), and its statistical significance was not large enough to draw conclusions yet or even formally to count as an "observation", but the fact that two independent experiments had both shown excesses at around the same mass led to considerable excitement in the particle physics community.[46]

On 22 December 2011, the DØ Collaboration also reported limitations on the Higgs boson within the Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model, an extension to the Standard Model. Protonantiproton (pp) collisions with a centre-of-mass energy of 1.96 TeV had allowed them to set an upper limit for Higgs boson production within MSSM ranging from 90 to 300 GeV, and excluding tanβ > 20–30 for masses of the Higgs boson below 180 GeV (tanβ is the ratio of the two Higgs doublet vacuum expectation values).[47]

At the end of December 2011, it was therefore widely expected that the LHC would provide sufficient data to either exclude or confirm the existence of the Standard Model Higgs boson by the end of 2012, when their new 2012 collision data (at energies of 8 TeV) had been examined.[48]

Updates from the two LHC teams continued during the first part of 2012, with the tentative December 2011 data largely being confirmed and developed further. Updates were also available from the team analyzing the final data from the Tevatron. All of these continued to highlight and narrow down the same 125 GeV region as showing interesting features.

On 2 July 2012, the ATLAS collaboration published additional analyses of their 2011 data, excluding boson mass ranges of 111.4 GeV to 116.6 GeV, 119.4 GeV to 122.1 GeV, and 129.2 GeV to 541 GeV. They observed an excess of events corresponding to the Higgs boson mass hypotheses around 126 GeV with a local significance of 2.9 sigma.[49] On the same date, the and CDF Collaborations announced further analysis that increased their confidence. The significance of the excesses at energies between 115–140 GeV was now quantified as 2.9 standard deviations, corresponding to a 1 in 550 probability of being due to a statistical fluctuation. However, this still fell short of the 5 sigma confidence, therefore the results of the LHC experiments are necessary to establish a discovery. They exclude Higgs mass ranges at 100–103 and 147–180 GeV.[50][51]

On 22 June 2012 CERN announced an upcoming seminar covering tentative findings for 2012,[52][53] and shortly afterwards rumors began to spread in the media that this would include a major announcement, but it was unclear whether this would be a stronger signal or a formal discovery.[54][55] On 4 July 2012 CMS announced the discovery of a boson with mass 125.3 ± 0.6 GeV/c2 within 4.9 sigma,[2] and ATLAS of a boson with mass ∼126.5 GeV/c2 within 5 sigma.[3] This meets the formal level required to announce a new particle which is "consistent with" the Higgs boson, but scientists are cautious as to whether it is formally identified as actually being the Higgs boson, pending further analysis.[1]

Timeline of experimental evidence
All results refer to the Standard Model Higgs boson, unless otherwise stated.
  • 2000–2004 – using data collected before 2000, in 2003–2004 Large Electron–Positron Collider experiments published papers which set a lower bound for the Higgs boson of 114.4 GeV/c2 at the 95% confidence level (CL), with a small number of events around 115 GeV.[32]
  • July 2010 – data from CDF (Fermilab) and DØ (Tevatron) experiments exclude the Higgs boson in the range 158–175 GeV/c2 at 95% CL.[38][39]
  • 24 April 2011 – media reports "rumors" of a find;[56] these were debunked by May 2011.[57] They had not been a hoax, but were based on unofficial, unreviewed results.[58]
  • 24 July 2011 – the LHC reported possible signs of the particle, the ATLAS Note concluding: "In the low mass range (c. 120–140 GeV) an excess of events with a significance of approximately 2.8 sigma above the background expectation is observed" and the BBC reporting that "interesting particle events at a mass of between 140 and 145 GeV" were found.[59][60] These findings were repeated shortly thereafter by researchers at the Tevatron with a spokesman stating that: "There are some intriguing things going on around a mass of 140GeV."[59] On 22 August 2011 it was reported that these anomalous results had become insignificant on the inclusion of more data from ATLAS and CMS and that the non-existence of the particle had been confirmed by LHC collisions to 95% certainty between 145–466 GeV (except for a few small islands around 250 GeV).[61]
  • 23–24 July 2011 – Preliminary LHC results exclude the ranges 155–190 GeV/c2 (ATLAS)[42] and 149–206 GeV/c2 (CMS)[43] at 95% CL.
  • 27 July 2011 – preliminary CDF/DØ results extend the excluded range to 156–177 GeV/c2 at 95% CL.[40]
  • 18 November 2011 – a combined analysis of ATLAS and CMS data further narrowed the window for the allowed values of the Higgs boson mass to 114–141 GeV.[62]
  • 13 December 2011 – experimental results were announced from the ATLAS and CMS experiments, indicating that if the Higgs boson exists, its mass is limited to the range 116–130 GeV (ATLAS) or 115–127 GeV (CMS), with other masses excluded at 95% CL. Observed excesses of events at around 124 GeV (CMS) and 125–126 GeV (ATLAS) are consistent with the presence of a Higgs boson signal, but also consistent with fluctuations in the background. The global statistical significances of the excesses are 1.9 sigma (CMS) and 2.6 sigma (ATLAS) after correction for the look elsewhere effect.[44][45]
  • 22 December 2011 – the DØ Collaboration also sets limits on Higgs boson masses within the Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model (an extension of the Standard Model), with an upper limit for production ranging from 90 to 300 GeV, and excluding tanβ>20–30 for Higgs boson masses below 180 GeV at 95% CL.[47]
  • 7 February 2012 – updating the December results, the ATLAS and CMS experiments constrain the Standard Model Higgs boson, if it exists, to the range 116–131 GeV and 115–127 GeV, respectively, with the same statistical significance as before.[63][64][65]
  • 7 March 2012 – the and CDF Collaborations announced that they found excesses that might be interpreted as coming from a Higgs boson with a mass in the region of 115 to 135 GeV/c2 in the full sample of data from Tevatron. The significance of the excesses is quantified as 2.2standard deviations, corresponding to a 1 in 250 probability of being due to a statistical fluctuation. This is a lower significance, but consistent with and independent of the ATLAS and CMS data at the LHC.[66][67] This new result also extends the range of Higgs-mass values excluded by the Tevatron experiments at 95% CL, which becomes 147-179 GeV/c2.[68][69]
  • 2 July 2012 – the ATLAS collaboration further analyzed their 2011 data, excluding Higgs mass ranges of 111.4 GeV to 116.6 GeV, 119.4 GeV to 122.1 GeV, and 129.2 GeV to 541 GeV. Higgs bosons are probably located at 126 GeV with significance of 2.9 sigma.[49] On the same day, the and CDF Collaborations also announced further analysis, increasing their confidence that the data between 115–140 GeV is corresponding to a Higgs boson to 2.9 sigma, excluding mass ranges at 100–103 and 147–180 GeV.[50][51]
  • 4 July 2012 – the CMS collaboration "announces the discovery of a boson with mass 125.3 ± 0.6 GeV/c2 within 4.9 sigma" and the ATLAS collaboration announced that "we observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV." These findings meet the formal level required to announce a new particle which is "consistent with" the Higgs boson, but scientists are cautious as to whether it is formally identified as being the Higgs boson, pending further data collection and analysis.[1]

"God particle"

The Higgs boson is often referred to as the "God particle" by the media,[70] after the title of Leon Lederman‘s popular science book on particle physics, The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?[71][72] While use of this term may have contributed to increased media interest,[72] many scientists dislike it, since it overstates the particle’s importance, not least since its discovery would still leave unanswered questions about the unification of quantum chromodynamics, the electroweak interaction, and gravity, as well as the ultimate origin of the universe.[70][4] Higgs is an atheist, and is displeased that the Higgs particle is nicknamed the "God particle",[73] because in Higgs’s view the term "might offend people who are religious".[74]

Lederman said he gave it the nickname "the God particle" because the particle is "so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive,"[70][71][75] but jokingly added that a second reason was because "the publisher wouldn’t let us call it the Goddamn Particle, though that might be a more appropriate title, given its villainous nature and the expense it is causing."[71]

A renaming competition conducted by the science correspondent for the British Guardian newspaper chose the name "the champagne bottle boson" as the best from among their submissions: "The bottom of a champagne bottle is in the shape of the Higgs potential and is often used as an illustration in physics lectures. So it’s not an embarrassingly grandiose name, it is memorable, and [it] has some physics connection too."[76]

See also

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  1. ^ Note that such events also occur due to other processes. Detection involves a statistically significant excess of such events at specific energies.
  2. ^ Only 1% of the mass of composite particles, such as the proton and neutron, is due to the Higgs mechanism. The other 99% is due to the mass of the kinetic energies of particles inside baryons, all constrained by the strong interaction. However, without the Higgs mechanism quarks and electrons would be massless and would move at the speed of light. See "Higgs hunt: new particle found".


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"God Particle" Found? "Historic Milestone" From Higgs Boson Hunters

Newfound particle may be at the core of existence.

The Higgs particle erupting from the collision of protons.

In an artist’s conception, a Higgs boson erupts from a collision of protons.

Illustration by Moonrunner Design Ltd., National Geographic

Ker Than

for National Geographic News

Published July 4, 2012

"I think we have it. You agree?"

Speaking to a packed audience Wednesday morning in Geneva, CERNdirector general Rolf Heuer confirmed that two separate teams working at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are more than 99 percent certain they’ve discovered the Higgs boson, aka the God particleor at the least a brand-new particle exactly where they expected the Higgs to be.

The long-sought particle may complete the standard model of physics by explaining why objects in our universe have massand in so doing, why galaxies, planets, and even humans have any right to exist.

(See Large Hadron Collider pictures.)

"We have a discovery," Heuer said at the seminar. "We have observed a new particle consistent with a Higgs boson."

At the meeting were four theorists who helped develop the Higgs theory in the 1960s, including Peter Higgs himself, who could be seen wiping away tears as the announcement was made.

Although preliminary, the results show a so-called five-sigma of significance, which means that there is only a one in a million chance that the Higgs-like signal the teams observed is a statistical fluke.

"It’s a tremendous and exciting time," said physicist Michael Tuts, who works with the ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) Experiment, one of the two Higgs-seeking LHC projects.

The Columbia University physicist had organized a wee-hours gathering of physicists and students in the U.S. to watch the announcement, which took place at 9 a.m., Geneva time.

"This is the payoff. This is what you do it for."

The two LHC teams searching for the Higgs—the other being the CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid) project—did so independently. Neither one knew what the other would present this morning.

"It was interesting that the competing experiment essentially had the same result," said physicist Ryszard Stroynowski, an ATLAS team member based at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "It provides additional confirmation."

CERN head Heuer called today’s announcement a "historic milestone" but cautioned that much work lies ahead as physicists attempt to confirm the newfound particle’s identity and further probe its properties.

For example, though the teams are certain the new particle has the proper mass for the predicted Higgs boson, they still need to determine whether it behaves as the God particle is thought to behave—and therefore what its role in the creation and maintenance of the universe is.

"I think we can all be proud … but it’s a beginning," Heuer said.

Higgs Boson Results Exceeded Expectations

The five-sigma results from both the ATLAS and CMS experiments exceeded the expectations of many physicists, including David Evans, leader of the U.K. team that works on the LHC-based ALICE (A Large Ion Collider Experiment) Collaboration.

Evans had predicted Tuesday the teams would announce a four-sigma result—just short of the rigorous standard traditionally required for a new-particle observation to officially count as a true discovery and not a fluke.

"It’s even better than I expected," said Evans, of the University of Birmingham in the U.K. "I think we can say the Higgs is here. It exists."

Evans attributed the stronger-than-expected results to "a mixture of the LHC doing a fantastic job" and "ATLAS and CMS doing a fantastic job of improving their analysis since December," when the two teams announced a two-sigma observation of signs of a Higgs-like particle.

"So even with the same data, they can get more significance."

ATLAS spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti also had high praise for the LHC, a multibillion-dollar machine that had suffered numerous mishaps and setbacks in its early days. (Related: "Electrical Glitch Delays Large Hadron Collider.")

"The LHC and experiments have been doing miracles. I think we are working beyond design," the Italian particle physicist added.

ALICE’s Evans said he was extremely pleased by the Higgs results but admitted feeling just a bit disappointed that the results weren’t more surprising.

"Secretly I would have loved it to be something slightly different than the standard model predictions, because that would indicate that there’s something more out there."

On God-Particle Hunt, It’s "Easy to Fool Yourself"

Wednesday’s announcement builds on results from last December, when the ATLAS and CMS teams said their data suggested that the Higgs boson has a mass of about 125 gigaelectron volts (GeV)—about 125 times the mass of a proton, a positively charged particle in an atom’s nucleus.

(See "Hints of Higgs Boson Seen at LHC—Proof by Next Summer?")

"For the first time there was a case where we expected to [rule out] the Higgs, and we weren’t able to do so," said Tim Barklow, an experimental physicist with the ATLAS Experiment who’s based at Stanford University’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

A two-sigma finding translates to about a 95 percent chance that results are not due to a statistical fluke.

While that might seem impressive, it falls short of the stringent five-sigma level that high-energy physicists traditionally require for an official discovery. Five sigma means there’s a less than one in a million probability that a finding is due to chance.

"We make these rules and impose them on ourselves because, when you are exploring on the frontier, it is easy to fool yourself," said Michael Peskin, a theoretical physicist also at SLAC.

(Related: "’God Particle’ May Be Five Distinct Particles, New Evidence Shows.")

Higgs Holds It All Together?

The Higgs boson is one of the final puzzle pieces required for a complete understanding of the standard model of physics—the so-far successful theory that explains how fundamental particles interact with the elementary forces of nature.

The so-called God particle was proposed in the 1960s by Peter Higgs to explain why some particles, such as quarks—building blocks of protons, among other things—and electrons have mass, while others, such as the light-carrying photon particle, do not.

Higgs’s idea was that the universe is bathed in an invisible field similar to a magnetic field. Every particle feels this field—now known as the Higgs field—but to varying degrees.

If a particle can move through this field with little or no interaction, there will be no drag, and that particle will have little or no mass. Alternatively, if a particle interacts significantly with the Higgs field, it will have a higher mass.

The idea of the Higgs field requires the acceptance of a related particle: the Higgs boson.

According to the standard model, if the Higgs field didn’t exist, the universe would be a very different place, said SLAC’s Peskin, who isn’t involved in the LHC experiments.

"It would be very difficult to form atoms," Peskin said. "So our orderly world, where matter is made of atoms, and electrons form chemical bonds—we wouldn’t have that if we did not have the Higgs field."

In other words: no galaxies, no stars, no planets, no life on Earth.

"Nature Is Really Nasty" to Higgs Boson Seekers

Buried beneath the French-Swiss border, the Large Hadron Collider is essentially a 17-mile-long (27-kilometer-long) oval tunnel. Inside, counter-rotating beams of protons are boosted to nearly the speed of light using an electric field before being magnetically steered into collisions.

Exotic fundamental particles—some of which likely haven’t existed since the early moments after the big bang—are created in the high-energy crashes. But the odd particles hang around for only fractions of a second before decaying into other particles.

(Also see "Strange Particle Created; May Rewrite How Matter’s Made.")

Theory predicts that the Higgs boson’s existence is too fleeting to be recorded by LHC instruments, but physicists think they can confirm its creation if they can spot the particles it decays into. (Explore a Higgs boson interactive.)

Now that the Higgs boson—or something like it—has been confirmed to indeed have a mass of around 125 to 126 GeV, scientists have a better idea why the God particle has avoided detection for so long.

This mass is just high enough to be out of reach of earlier, lower-energy particle accelerators, such as the LHC’s predecessor, the Large Electron-Positron Collider, which could probe to only about 115 GeV.

At the same time 125 GeV is not so massive that it produces decay products so unusual that their detection would be clear proof of the Higgs’s existence.

In reality the Higgs appears to transform into relatively commonplace decay products such as quarks, which are produced by the millions at the LHC.

"It just so happens that nature is really nasty to us, and the range that we’ve narrowed [the Higgs] down to is the range that makes it most difficult to find," ALICE’s Evans said.

Despite the challenges, ATLAS’s Gianotti said, it’s fortunate that the Higgs has the mass that it does.

"It’s very nice for the standard-model Higgs boson to be at that mass," she said. "Because at that mass we can measure it at the LHC in a huge number of final states. So, thanks Nature."

Going for the Gold

While the search for the Higgs was a primary motivation for the construction of the LHC, activity at the world’s largest atom smasher won’t stop if the Higgs boson is confirmed.

For one thing, the two teams will be busy preparing the data they presented today for submission to scientific journals for publication.

There are also lingering questions that will require years of follow-up work, such as what the God particle’s "decay channels" are—that is, what particles the Higgs transforms into as it sheds energy.

The answer to that question will allow physicists to determine whether the particle they have discovered is the one predicted from theory or something more exotic, Columbia University’s Tuts said.

"Does it really smell and taste like a Higgs? Is it being produced at the rate that a standard model Higgs would predict? That’s the work that’s going to go on over the course of this year at least," he added.

Something the public often forgets, too, is that ATLAS and CMS make up only two of the LHC’s four major experiments, Evans said. The other two—the LHCb Collaboration and Evan’s own ALICE—are investigating other physics arcana, such as why the universe contains so little antimatter.

(See "Antimatter Atoms Trapped for First Time—’A Big Deal.’")

"If you want to compare it to the Olympics, finding the Higgs would be like winning just one gold medal," Evans said.

"I’m sure most countries would like to win more than one gold medal. And I think CERN is going to deliver a lot more gold medals over the years."