"Fantastic discovery" is thought to be Higgs Boson
The latest results from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland further reinforce the idea that the particle discovered last year is a Higgs’ boson.
The until now theoretical, illusive matter was the dreamchild of the Bristol-born Professor Peter Higgs, who went to Cotham Grammar School in Bristol.
Having analysed more data, the CMS and ATLAS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have today presented their latest findings at the Moriond Conference in Italy. They find that the particle is looking more and more like a Higgs boson, the particle long-thought to give other particles mass.
Dr David Newbold, who leads the CMS team at the University of Bristol, said: “After last year's fantastic discovery, there's been an intense effort to measure the properties of the new particle in detail. We now have twice as much data as in 2012, and we've begun to explore whether this really is the boson predicted by Peter Higgs and his colleagues almost 50 years ago.
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“So far everything looks consistent with the predictions of the Standard Model, which of course is a triumph in its own right – but there is the even more exciting possibility that the new particle is an 'imposter' that could point the way to new laws of physics. The full picture will only become clear when we restart the upgraded LHC in 2015 with double the current energy.”
If the new particle is a Higgs, it could be the Higgs as predicted in the 1960s, which would complete the Standard Model of particle physics, or it could be a more exotic particle that would lead us beyond the Standard Model.
The stakes are high. The Standard Model accounts for all the visible matter in the universe, including the stuff that we are made of, but it does not account for the 96 per cent of the universe that is invisible to us – the so-called dark universe.
Finding out what kind of Higgs it is will rely on carefully measuring the particle's interactions with other particles, and that may take several years to resolve.
UK particle physicist and ATLAS Spokesperson Professor Dave Charlton said: “The latest results mark a significant step in the measurements of the new boson, and use the full data sample collected so far by the LHC.
“It has been a great challenge for the experiments to produce such detailed analyses so quickly – it is a testament to the dedication of very many people that we could show them this week. With these results we see both that the decays, and the spin quantum number, of the new particle look like a Higgs boson.”
Another Bristol connection with the LHC is husband and wife team Greg and Helen Heath, from Bristol University, who have been working on the project for 20 years.
Dr Helen Heath works on a part of the detector which measures the energies of electrons and photons (particles of light), while her husband Professor Greg Heath works on a system that decides which single event is stored.