We (probably) found the Higgs Boson. Now what?

I got to join in on a great conversation this morning on Minnesota Public Radio's "The Daily Circuit", all about the Higgs Boson and what it means for the future of physics.

This is a fascinating issue. Finding the Higgs Boson (if that is, indeed, what scientists have done) means that all the particles predicted by the Standard Model of physics have now been found. But that's not necessarily good news for physicists. For one thing, it would have been a lot more interesting to break the Standard Model than to uphold it. For another, we're now left with a model for the Universe that mostly works but still has some awkward holes — holes that it might be hard to get the funding to fill.

Daily Circuit host Kerry Miller, Harvard physics chair Melissa Franklin, and I spent 45 minutes talking about what is simultaneously a beautiful dream and a waking nightmare for the physics world. And I got to make a "Half Baked" reference in a conversation about particle physics, so you know it's a good time, too.

Listen to the whole conversation at Minnesota Public Radio's website.


  1. Where does the graviton fit in the standard model? The Higgs gives particles their mass – does it also account for why mass is attracted to mass?

    1. Nope. We talk about that in the radio bit, but that’s one of the problems with the Standard Model. No connection between gravity and the quantum world. (At least until somebody finds those hypothetical gravitons)

      1. One impression I’ve gotten from high energy physicists is that a lot of people don’t like Standard Model, and think that it’s probably wrong, but are constantly annoyed that its predictions hold true in experiments. 

        Is this accurate or are there just a lot of grumpy sourpusses with their own theories that have not held up or simply not tested? 

        1. The impression I’ve gotten is more of a charitable version of that. 
          There are legit things that the Standard Model doesn’t explain and that bugs people. 
          It would be a lot more fun for physicists if the Standard Model were wrong, because there’d be more to discover. 
          There’s some concern that funding will dry up if it looks like we’ve got it all figured out and the Standard Model solves everything. 

          Combine. Swish around with varying levels of disgruntledness. Serve. 

          1. How can you say The Standard Model solves everything in one post and then say that the standard Model can’t explain gravity. ( we have a mathematical model for its behavior it but we do not know how or what it is truly) I think it’s pretty ridiculous to ever say that “there’s nothing left to discover”  Hell we can’t even get past the chemical rocket stage of space travel.  We’ve barely scratched the surface of discovery.

          2. You know what  else  needs to be discovered?  How some people can  read the phrase “if it looks like we’ve got it all figured out” and completely miss the word “if”.

    2. maybe all forms of matter are attracted to their common molecule like water, and mercury.  its just to what super infinitesimal amount that we can’t see or begin to measure, also take into account that other greater forces over take the smaller ones rendering them even more impossible to detect.

      1. Perhaps. 

        Feynman posed the problem that if a graviton existed, then why didn’t planets whiz away from the sun? The basic idea is that as the planet moves through space, its front side  hits more gravitons than the trailing side just as a windshield hits more raindrops than the rear window. More graviton interactions at the front side would accelerate the planet forwards which would move it away from the sun.  But if a graviton doesn’t exist then how does matter warp space time?

  2. We (probably) found the Higgs Boson. Now what?

    Now we kick back and relax.
    Seriously, isn’t SUSY next on the tick list?

  3. Tranquilize it, chain it up and bring it home to put on display to thousands of screaming fans. Seriously, what could go wrong?

  4. If you’ve truly found the Higgs Boson, set if free. If it comes back to you, you’ll know that it’s true love.

    1. Alas, only particles of it returned, and the sum of their masses does not equal the energy expended in their creation.

  5. Without having listened to the piece: what about asking someone working at the LHC who’s designing some of the next major grant proposals?

    I guess: pas de science sans Comic Sans.

  6. Great show!  I heard some of it this morning, and just finished up the rest.  Thanks for posting it.

  7. What is next is obvious.  They should put an ad in the paper saying:  FOUND  HIGGS BOSON.  Will Mister Higgs please contact us at 555-5555 so we can return his lost boson.

  8. Behold the Higgs Boson’s awesome ability to cause dataviz motion blur! 

    Let us all pray it does’t leap out of the image frame…

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