The Little Boson That Wasn’t
Posted on Nov 14, 2012
Physicists worldwide are majorly bummed to learn that the new particle discovered this year that supposedly meant a big change in the way we understand the building blocks of our universe is merely “the simplest—and most boring—variety of Higgs boson.”
Scientists at the Cern research laboratory near Geneva celebrated in July when they thought they had found a more complex particle in their high-energy collider. The hoped-for particle may still exist. If and when it is found, it would still have enormous implications for change in the existing physical model of the universe.
—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.
[F]resh data released by both teams at a conference in Kyoto today show that – so far at least – there is nothing peculiar about the particle’s behaviour. The results do not completely rule out a more exotic Higgs particle, though. Some versions would look so much like the so-called Standard Model Higgs boson they could take years to identify.
… One reason the Higgs boson took more than two decades to find is that it is spectacularly unstable. As soon as the boson is created, it disintegrates into more familiar particles, including quarks, electrons and photons. Scientists looked for an excess of these particles, which would imply that the Higgs boson had been created.
When Cern first reported the discovery of a Higgs-like particle in July, both teams saw what might have been the first signs of an exotic variety of Higgs boson. The particle seemed to disintegrate too often into energetic photons called gamma particles, and not often enough into taus, the heavy cousins of electrons. The numbers were too small to stoke up excitement, but if the discrepancies had grown, the case for an exotic Higgs would have become more convincing.
Abode of Chaos
A likeness of the searching eyes of Peter Higgs, after whom the particle is named.