A version of a famous tune by Flanders and Swann, with lyrics by Danuta Orlowska. Interpreted by CERN Choir, performing in the CERN Control Centre.
By GAUTAM NAIK
Physicists said they had discovered a new particle that is consistent with the Higgs boson, a long-sought particle crucial to scientists’ current understanding of how the universe is built, although they will need additional data to pin it down with near absolute certainty.
Joe Incandela, spokesman for one of the experiments, told scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, that the new particle was definitely a boson and the heaviest boson ever found.
“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,” he said in a statement.
The new particle found at CERN is in the mass range of 125-126 GeV, or gigaelectronvolts, which means its mass is 125-126 times greater than the mass of a proton. CERN said their data had pinned down the mass of the new particle with an extremely high level of statistical certainty.
However, the researchers cautioned that the current finding was still preliminary and they expect more data from additional experiments in coming months. One crucial detail would be for them to pin down specific properties that the Higgs boson is supposed to have. For example, the theory predicts it will have a spin of zero.
Physicists generally claim that they have “strong evidence” for a discovery if there is less than a 1% chance that their finding is due to a statistical fluctuation. On Wednesday, CERN said that its two independent experiments are “beyond the level of around one per million that is required to claim a discovery, and the experiments should confirm that level of confidence once these analyses are complete.”
CERN said it plans to publish its latest analysis of the new particle by the end of the month.
Stronger proof that the particle exists would help explain a big puzzle: why some objects in the universe—such as the quark, a constituent of protons—have mass, while other objects—such as photons, the constituent of light—possess only energy.
By extension, it would help explain the presence of stars, planets and humans, and thus rank as one of the biggest coups for modern-day physics.
Write to Gautam Naik at firstname.lastname@example.org