The LHC Might Have Actually Found What it's Been Looking For

| 25 Apr 2011 21:54

In 1995, some scientists decided to build a big particle collider to test for the existence of the Higgs Boson. $5.5 billion and 17 years later, we might be close to getting an answer.

A partial leak of an internal note by scientists at the Large Hadron Collider's ATLAS detector has revealed the existence of a very, very significant blip in the data. At 115 GeV (giga electron volts- the way scientists measure the energy of collisions at the collider), a big mess of extra photons are showing up where they aren't expected. And when unexpected stuff happen at the LHC, you can expect that big science things are going down.

The significance of this occurring at 115 GeV energies is that the Higgs Boson, the theoretical particle that grants matter its mass and the driving research goal of the LHC, is assumed to show up at that same energy range. This could be a coincidence, but it all the same has caused physicists the world over to work themselves into a froth over the implications. The problem is, the data doesn't quite fit the expected Higgs data. In fact, the data shows a spike 30 times larger than it should be, if the Higgs is the cause.

This doesn't mean that it isn't the first sign of a new particle, but it does mean we have to be careful in what we claim. It could very easily be a math error, a statistical anomaly, or Bill the Physicist dropping his coffee into the detector. The "discovery" is mostly just a rumor for now, but expect a statement or two coming out of CERN in the next week or two, to address the data spike and its implications.

And if that data spike just happens to lead to proof of the Higgs Boson, then expect a statement or two about Nobel Prize nominations.

Source: New Scientist

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