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The Higgs boson: progress made but nothing conclusive yet

December 13, 2011

You’ve no doubt already seen or heard mention of this breaking news elsewhere, but I simply must weigh-in: This morning physicists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider announced that they are making significant progress toward discovering the Higgs boson, or what many tend to call “the God Particle.” They really are on the verge of making a discovery that will change the face of physics forever, and vastly improve our understanding of the building blocks of EVERYTHING in the universe, and how the universe came into existence. The announcement does not mean that they have found the Higgs, just that they’ve seen a series of spikes in activity (the few nanoseconds right after a particle collision) within the predicted mass range for the Higgs. They’ve narrowed its mass down to a pretty small range with a fairly high degree of certainty because they’ve amassed quite a bit of data, and the chances that this is just a statistical fluke are getting lower and lower. Still though, the certainty is not high enough for physicists to claim an actual discovery. This elusive Higgs boson is the last missing “link” in the most widely accepted theory of particle physics- The Standard Model. If the Higgs is finally confirmed to exist within the range of mass predicted by the Standard Model, then this theory will essentially become rock-solid.

*Steps onto soapbox.*

But the beauty of science and the scientific method is that it will be just as exciting, if not MORE exciting, if the Higgs is proven to either exist outside the predicted range of mass or not exist at all! Science relies strictly on data, and if the data shows something not predicted then you go back to the drawing board and keep trying until you have a theory that fits the reality of the data. That method is infallible, and that is why I love science.

*Steps down from soapbox.*

For more-

the Guardian has been posting live updates to their story.

But BBC News has the best coverage I’ve seen.

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