Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 34

Thread: CERN announcement today - Higgs boson / "god particle" discussion

  1. #1
    Join The Resistance Barbarella's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Whorelando
    Posts
    7,086

    CERN announcement today - Higgs boson / "god particle" discussion

    God particle found, say scientists!!!

    Scientists are expected to announce this week that the elusive Higgs boson 'God particle' has been found.

    Five leading theoretical physicists, including UK physicist Peter Higgs, have been invited to the event on Wednesday, sparking speculation that the particle has been discovered.

    CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, has confirmed researchers were still analysing data on the so-called God particle.

    Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider are expected to say they are 99.99 per cent certain it has been found - which is known as 'four sigma' level, according to London's Daily Mail.

    Finding the Higgs boson would validate the Standard Model, a theory explaining how the universe is built, and could be a gateway to verifying other parts of physics such as superparticles or dark matter. The research would help scientists gain a better understanding of the universe and how galaxies hold together.

    Physicists first predicted that the Higgs Boson subatomic particle exists 48 years ago.

    The Higgs boson is regarded as the key to understanding the universe. Physicists say its job is to give the particles that make up atoms their mass, says the Daily Mail.

    Without this mass, these particles would zip though the cosmos at the speed of light, unable to bind together to form the atoms that make up everything in the universe, from planets to people

    If the physicists' theory is correct, a few Higgs bosons should be created in every trillion collisions, before rapidly decaying.
    US scientists found some evidence of the existence of the Higgs boson in two independent experiments in March, but the clues weren't strong enough to declare the so-called God particle cornered.

  2. #2
    Strangerer Rum 509's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    2,102
    Quote Originally Posted by Barbarella View Post
    Physicists say its job is to give the particles that make up atoms their mass
    That's just about the coolest and thought provoking thing I've heard!

  3. #3
    Why is this happening to me? beanstew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    8,213
    I can highly recommend the book Massive - The Hunt For The God Particle by Ian Sample. It provides some great background on how and why the LHC was built and the significance of the Higgs Boson.

    In the early 1960s, three groups of physicists, working independently in different countries, stumbled upon an idea that would change physics and fuel one of the greatest races science has ever seen. That idea was the 'God particle', or Higgs boson - to find it would be to finally understand the origins of mass, the last building block of life itself. This is the gripping story of the quest to discover it.

    Massive weaves together the personal stories and intense rivalries of the teams of scientists searching for the particle in a tale of grand ambition, trans-Atlantic competition, clashing egos and occasionally spectacular failures. From the giant particle colliders built to further the hunt to the political fallout of budget blowouts and debates over whether the search might destroy the universe - and whether the particle even exists at all - it is an epic story of imagination, personal ambition, sub-atomic exploration and global significance.
    Edit:

    @iansample is on twitter and is well worth following for anyone interested in this kind of stuff.
    Maybe for once, someone will call me "Sir" without adding, "You're making a scene."

  4. #4
    to the loneliest city in the world other pete's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    shatter shattered
    Posts
    5,962
    I wince every time it gets called the "god particle" though. Not out of atheistic principle. It's a completely crap metaphor! It doesn't issue commandments, have a beard, wreak vengeance on those who defy it. May as well call it the Tom Cruise Particle. Wakka wakka.

    But seriously, TV presenters brandish the name "GOD PARTICLE!!!!" (or if they're highbrow, "SO-CALLED GOD PARTICLE!!!") as if naming it that explained something about it. You could just as easily call protons "GOD PARTICLES!". It's a typical case of an incredibly exciting fact getting weirdly hyped in a way that will inevitably leave people saying, a few years down the line, "yeah, remember when ""science"" thought it had found THE GOD PARTICLE? And then bad things still happened?".

    ETA: Pedantic whining = my contribution to the discussion about the biggest breakthrough of the century.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    1,026
    Cool! It will be announced on Wednesday? Edit: Yes it will
    Last edited by Damien; 07-02-2012 at 03:51 PM.

  6. #6
    Loves ponies. Hates phonies. Regina Phalange's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    8,483
    Quote Originally Posted by other pele View Post
    I wince every time it gets called the "god particle" though. Not out of atheistic principle.
    Me too. That's what I thought the entire time I read it. People who can't understand evolution aren't going to be able to comprehend this term.

  7. #7
    Join The Resistance Barbarella's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Whorelando
    Posts
    7,086
    ^ I said something similar to my husband last night. The Christian Right are going to throw a fit.

  8. #8
    condemned to wires and hammers ebby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Ireland
    Posts
    10,908
    THEY FOUND GOD!

    or

    HOW DARE THEY THINK THEY FOUND GOD SOMEWHERE THAT ISN'T A CHURCH!

  9. #9
    Mr. Tricorder Pete!'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    1,277

    CERN announcement today.

    Morning!

    Is today going to be an exciting day for physics or what? Already had very interesting results from Fermilab on Friday, so what is CERN announcing today? Probably not actual 100% confirmation of the Higgs boson, but certainly the best signs of it.

    "New particle" video leaked.

    Speaking on the video, Incandela stopped short of claiming the particle was the Higgs boson, saying more work was needed to be sure. "We have quite strong evidence that there's something there. It's properties are still going to take us a little bit of time," he said.

    The details Incandela revealed suggest it has the hallmarks of the Higgs particle. "We can see that it decays into two photons, for example, which tells us it's a boson, it's a particle with integer spin, and we know its mass is roughly 100 times the mass of the proton. And this is very significant."
    This is fantastic. Humankind is one step closer to understanding how everything works, and we did it by building a colossal machine that obliterates particles at just below the speed of light. How fucking cool are we?

  10. #10
    Why is this happening to me? beanstew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    8,213
    CERN press release
    CERN experiments observe particle consistent with long-sought Higgs boson

    Geneva, 4 July 2012. At a seminar held at CERN1 today as a curtain raiser to the year’s major particle physics conference, ICHEP2012 in Melbourne, the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented their latest preliminary results in the search for the long sought Higgs particle. Both experiments observe a new particle in the mass region around 125-126 GeV.

    “We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV. The outstanding performance of the LHC and ATLAS and the huge efforts of many people have brought us to this exciting stage,” said ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti, “but a little more time is needed to prepare these results for publication.”

    "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."

    “It’s hard not to get excited by these results,” said CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci. “ We stated last year that in 2012 we would either find a new Higgs-like particle or exclude the existence of the Standard Model Higgs. With all the necessary caution, it looks to me that we are at a branching point: the observation of this new particle indicates the path for the future towards a more detailed understanding of what we’re seeing in the data.”

    The results presented today are labelled preliminary. They are based on data collected in 2011 and 2012, with the 2012 data still under analysis. Publication of the analyses shown today is expected around the end of July. A more complete picture of today’s observations will emerge later this year after the LHC provides the experiments with more data.

    The next step will be to determine the precise nature of the particle and its significance for our understanding of the universe. Are its properties as expected for the long-sought Higgs boson, the final missing ingredient in the Standard Model of particle physics? Or is it something more exotic? The Standard Model describes the fundamental particles from which we, and every visible thing in the universe, are made, and the forces acting between them. All the matter that we can see, however, appears to be no more than about 4% of the total. A more exotic version of the Higgs particle could be a bridge to understanding the 96% of the universe that remains obscure.

    “We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle’s properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe.”

    Positive identification of the new particle’s characteristics will take considerable time and data. But whatever form the Higgs particle takes, our knowledge of the fundamental structure of matter is about to take a major step forward.
    CERN webcast (making my brain ache)

    Guardian live blog

    I find this very exciting even without really fully understanding it.
    Maybe for once, someone will call me "Sir" without adding, "You're making a scene."

  11. #11
    Let them eat cheese flan Nancy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    4,375
    They're posting about it in "Science is AWESOME!" but I agree this needs a thread of its own.

  12. #12
    Join The Resistance Barbarella's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Whorelando
    Posts
    7,086
    Professor Brian Cox reacted with delight to the news that physicists at Cern have discovered a new particle consistent with the Higgs boson.

    Professor Cox told the BBC the discovery was a significant moment in the history of science and a vindication of the work carried out with the Large Hadron Collider.
    Short video of Professor Cox at link helped me understand more:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18708281

  13. #13
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    1,026
    They've been searching for it for 45 years to help validate the Standard Model (explains the behavior of particles), so it's the most important scientific discovery in the last half a century! With this foundation it propels us in our understanding of how the universe works, from how it was formed to our questions regarding the existence of extra dimensions, dark matter, multiple universes, and beyond.

  14. #14
    Why is this happening to me? beanstew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    8,213
    Here's a good explaination of the Higgs Particle and its importance.

    Why the Higgs Particle Matters
    Why the Higgs Particle Matters

    Matt Strassler, July 2, 2012

    [Updated slightly, to reflect the fact that a Higgs of some type has been discovered, as announced at the LHC on July 4th, 2012.]

    Most of us learned in school, or from books, that all the materials around us — everything we eat, drink and breathe, all living creatures, and the very earth itself — are made from atoms. These come in about 100 types, called “the chemical elements”, and are typically found arranged into molecules, as letters can be arranged into words. Such facts about the world we take almost for granted, but they were still hotly debated late into the 19th century. Only around 1900, when the actual size of atoms could finally be inferred from multiple lines of reasoning, and the electron, the subatomic particle that inhabits the outskirts of atoms, was discovered, did the atomic picture of the world come into focus.

    But even today, some lines in this picture are still fuzzy. Puzzles dating back a century still remain unresolved. And the “Higgs boson” hullabaloo that you’ve been hearing about has everything to do with these deep questions at the heart of our own existence. Some of these blurry areas may soon become clearer, revealing details about the world that we cannot yet discern.

    We learned in school that the mass of an atom comes mostly from its tiny nucleus; the electrons that form a broad cloud around the nucleus contribute less than a thousandth of an atom’s mass. But what most of us didn’t learn, unless we took a college class in physics, is that an atom’s size — the distance across it — depends mainly on the electron’s mass. If you managed somehow to decrease the mass of the electron, and you’d find atoms would grow larger, and much more fragile. Reduce the electron’s mass by more than a factor of a thousand or so, and atoms would be so delicate that even the leftover heat from the Big Bang that launched our universe could break them apart. And so the very structure and survival of ordinary materials is tied to a seemingly esoteric question: why does the electron have a mass at all?

    The mass of the electron, and its origin, has puzzled and troubled physicists since it was first measured. Complicating and enriching the puzzle are the many discoveries, over the past century, of other apparently elementary particles. First it was learned that light is made from particles too, called photons, that have no mass at all; then it was learned that atomic nuclei are made from particles, called quarks, that do have mass; and recently we found strong indications that neutrinos, elusive particles that stream from the sun in droves, have masses too, albeit very small ones. And so the question about the electron became subsumed in larger questions: Why do particles like electrons, quarks and neutrinos have mass, while photons do not?

    In the middle of the last century, physicists learned how to write equations that predicted and described how electrons behaved. Even though they didn’t know where the electron’s mass came from, they found it easy to put the mass, by hand, into their equations, figuring that a full explanation of its origin would turn up later. But as they began to learn more about the weak nuclear force, one of the four known forces of nature, a serious problem emerged.

    The physicists already knew that electric forces are related to photons, and then they realized further that the weak nuclear force is related, similarly, to so-called “W” and “Z” particles. However, the W and Z differ from the photon, in that they do have a mass — they are as massive as an atom of tin, over a hundred thousand times heavier than are electrons. Unfortunately, the physicists found they could not put masses for the W and Z particles by hand into their equations; the resulting equations gave nonsensical predictions. And when they looked at how the weak nuclear force affected electrons and quarks and neutrinos, they discovered that the old way of putting in the electron mass by hand wouldn’t work anymore; it too would break the equations.

    To explain how the known elementary particles could possibly have mass at all required fresh ideas.

    This conundrum emerged gradually in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Already in the early 1960s a possible solution emerged — and here we meet Peter Higgs, and the others (Brout, Englert, Guralnik, Hagen and Kibble.) They suggested what we now call the “Higgs mechanism.” Suppose, they said, there is an as yet unknown field of nature — like all fields, a sort of substance present everywhere in space — that is not zero, and uniform across all of space and time. If this field — now called the Higgs field — were of the right type, its presence would then cause the W and Z particles to develop masses, and also would allow physicists to put the electron mass back into their equations — still putting off the question of why the electron’s mass is what it is, but at least allowing equations to be written down in which the electron’s mass isn’t zero!

    Over the ensuing decades the idea of the Higgs mechanism was tested in many different ways. We know, today, through exhaustive studies of the W and Z particles, among other things, that something like this is the right solution to the conundrum posed by the weak nuclear force. But the details? We don’t know them at all.

    What is the Higgs field, and how should we conceive of it? It is as invisible to us, and as unnoticed by us, as air is to a child, or water to a fish; in fact even more so, because although we learn, as we grow up, to become conscious of the flow of air over our bodies, as detected by our sense of touch, none of our senses provide us with any access to the Higgs field. Not only do we lack a means to detect it with our senses, it proves impossible to detect directly with scientific instruments. So how can we hope to tell for sure that it is there? And how can we hope to learn anything about it?

    There is one additional way in which the analogy between air and the Higgs field works well: if you disturb either of them, they will vibrate, forming waves. In the case of air, it’s easy to make these waves — just shout, or clap your hands — and our ears can easily detect these waves, in the form of sound. In the case of the Higgs field, it’s harder to create the waves, and harder to observe them. To make them requires a giant particle accelerator, called the Large Hadron Collider or LHC, at the CERN laboratory outside Geneva, Switzerland; and to detect them demands the use of building-sized scientific instruments, which go by the names of ATLAS and CMS.

    How is it done? Clapping your hands will reliably make loud sound waves. Smashing two very energetic protons together, using the LHC, can make very quiet Higgs waves, and very unreliably — only about one in every ten billion collisions will do this. The wave that emerges is the quietest possible wave in the Higgs field (technically, a single “quantum” of this type of wave.) We call this quietest possible wave a “Higgs particle”, or “Higgs boson”.

    Sometimes you will see the media call this the “God particle”. This term was invented by a publisher to sell a book, and thus has its origin in advertising, not in science or religion. Scientists do not use the term.

    Making a Higgs particle is the relatively easy half of the process; detecting the Higgs particle is the hard part. While a sound wave will travel freely from your clapping hands across a room to someone else’s ear, a Higgs particle disintegrates into other particles faster than you can say “Higgs boson”… in fact, in less time than it takes for light to travel across an atom. All that ATLAS and CMS can do is measure the debris from the exploding Higgs particle as carefully as possible, and try to work backwards, like detectives using clues to solve a crime, to determine whether a Higgs particle could have been the source of that debris.

    It’s even harder than this. It’s not enough to make one Higgs particle, because its debris isn’t sufficiently distinctive; often a collision of two protons will in some other way create debris that resembles what might emerge from a fragmenting Higgs particle. So how can we hope to determine that Higgs particles have been formed? The key is that Higgs particles are rare but their debris is relatively regular in appearance, while the other processes are common but more random; and just as your ear can gradually pick out the singing tone of a human voice even above heavy static on a radio, so experimenters can pick out the regular ringing of the Higgs field amid the random cacophony created by the other similar-looking processes.

    Carrying this out is extremely complex and difficult. But in a triumph of collective human ingenuity, it has been done.

    Why was this Herculean task even attempted? Because the profound importance of the Higgs field for our very existence is matched by our profound ignorance of its origin and properties. We do not even know that there is only one such field; there may be several. The Higgs field may itself be a complicated thing, built somehow out of other fields. We do not know why it is not zero, and we do not know why it interacts differently with different particles, giving the electron a very different mass from, say, the type of quark we call the “top quark”. Given the importance of mass not only in determining the size of atoms but in a whole host of other properties of nature, our understanding of our universe and ourselves cannot be complete and satisfactory while the Higgs field remains so mysterious. Studying the Higgs particle — the waves in the Higgs field — will give us our first profound insights into the nature of this field, just as one can learn about air from its sound waves, about rock by studying earthquakes, and about the sea by watching waves upon the beach.

    Some of you will inevitably (and fairly) ask: This may be inspirational, but what good is all this to society, in a practical sense? You may not like the answer, but you should. History shows that the societal benefits of research into fundamental questions often do not emerge for decades, even a century. I suspect you used a computer today; I doubt that, when Thompson discovered the electron in 1897, anyone around him could have guessed at the huge change in society that electronics would bring about. We cannot hope to imagine the technology of the next century, or to envision how seemingly esoteric knowledge gained today may impact the distant future. An investment into fundamental research is always a bit of an educated gamble. But at worst, we are very likely to learn something about nature that is deep, and has many unforeseen implications. Such knowledge, though without clear monetary value, is (in both senses) priceless.

    In the interest of brevity, I have oversimplified; things needn’t have turned out quite this way. It was possible that the waves in the Higgs field wouldn’t have been discoverable, much as an attempt to make waves in a lake of asphalt or thick syrup will end in failure, for the waves will die away before they ever really form. But we know enough about the particles of nature to know this could only have happened if there were other particles and forces as yet undiscovered, and some of these would have been accessible to the LHC. Alternatively, even though the Higgs particle (or particles) existed, they might have been somewhat harder to produce than expected, or might have typically disintegrated in somewhat unexpected ways. In all of these cases, it might have been several more years before the Higgs field began to reveal its secrets. So we were prepared to be patient, though hoping we wouldn’t have to explain these complexities to the media.

    But we needn’t have worried.

    The discovery of the Higgs particle represents a historic turning point — a triumph for those who proposed the Higgs mechanism, and for those who operate the LHC and the ATLAS and CMS detectors. Yet it does not represent the end to our puzzles about the masses of the known particles, only the beginning of our hope of solving them. As the energy and collision rate at the LHC increase over the coming years, ATLAS and CMS will be pursuing exhaustive and systematic studies of the Higgs particle. What they learn may allow us to resolve the mysteries of this mass-giving ocean in which we swim, and will propel us forward on our epic journey begun over a century ago, whose end may yet lie decades, perhaps centuries, beyond our current horizon.
    I love the bit I've bolded.
    Maybe for once, someone will call me "Sir" without adding, "You're making a scene."

  15. #15
    Mr. Tricorder Pete!'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    1,277
    After posting this thread I walked to work and started getting the livetweets from CERN, Professor Cox and the BBC. By the time I arrived at work I was grinning madly at the 5 sigma announcement. Fuck yeah, science!

    This feels like such a monumental day, even for a layperson. From here, the Standard Model becomes clearer, and Supersymmetry gains more credibility. This is the beginning of some exciting years to come.

    Also it's prompted some serious weirdness from Deepak Chopra on Twitter. That cat is bananas.

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •