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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.

Why scientists fear the Higgs Boson

The discovery of the particle that is most likely the Higgs Boson was met with wild-eyed excitement almost everywhere except CERN, writes physicist Glenn Starkman at Scientific American Blogs. That's because it means the theoretical Standard Model of Physics is probably on the right track. Which means there aren't any crazy inaccuracies leading to awesome mysteries that must be solved. Which means experimental particle physics haz a sad — and more than a little depressive ennui. (Via Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic) Maggie

Large Hadron Collider turned back on


Buttons glow in the control room of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva on April 5, 2012. At 0:38 CEST this morning, the LHC shift crew declared "stable beams" as two 4 TeV proton beams were brought into collision at the LHC's four interaction points. The collision energy of 8 TeV is a new world record, and increases the machine's potential to solve perplexing scientific questions. Top of the list: confirming the existence of the Higgs boson, a hypothetical particle posited to explain why matter has mass. Photo: REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Synchrotrons explained (with donuts)

Synchrotrons are a type of particle accelerator—a family of machines that includes the famous Large Hadron Collider.

Different synchrotrons do different jobs. The Diamond Light Source synchrotron in the United Kingdom focuses on producing high-energy beams of light, which are used to aid all different kinds of scientific research—from microbiology to archaeology.

In this short video, Harriet Bailey and Alice Lighton of Elements, a British science news page, explain how Diamond produces light to begin with and how synchrotrons work. They do this, using a model built out of donuts.

This is part of a package of stories on the Diamond Light Source synchrotron. Go to Elements to check out the rest of their coverage, and learn about how this synchrotron is being used for tasks like preserving historic ships and fighting cancer!

Video Link

Via Ed Yong

The Higgs Boson has not been discovered (again, in the same place)

Data from Fermilab's shuttered Tevatron accelerator seems to support the data released by CERN last December. These two different accelerators are both seeing a signal that could be the Higgs Boson in roughly the same place. To quote the New York Times: "It has led to a joke in physics circles now: The Higgs boson has not been discovered yet, but its mass is 125 billion electron volts." (Via dsut in Submitterator) Maggie

Quilts inspired by the Large Hadron Collider

Last week, while I was on a train, researchers at CERN announced that neutrinos are probably not traveling faster than the speed of light. Last year, as you'll recall, the OPERA experiment clocked the neutrinos breaking that speed limit. Unfortunately, it looks like those measurements were probably caused by one or more problems with the GPS system used to synchronize clocks between the neutrinos' point of origin and where they were speeding off to.

That's disappointing news. To make up for it, I offer you this art chaser—a gallery of beautiful quilts inspired by CERN's Large Hadron Collider.

The quilts are the work of artist Kate Findlay, and they're completely amazing. The one pictured here is called "Inner Eye." It's based on ATLAS, one of the major detectors built to encircle the Large Hadron Collider and collect information on what's going on inside it. Comparing the photo with the quilt makes both images doubly awesome.

See the rest of the quilts at Symmetry Magazine

Via Alexandra Witze

A limerick for the Higgs boson


"They said when the collider goes on
Soon they'd see that elusive boson
Very soon we shall hear
Whether Cern finds it this year
But it's something I won't bet very much on."
— Shelly Glashow, Boston University. Nobel prize in physics, 1979
From a collection of physicists' statements on the Higgs boson in The Guardian. (Via Ed Yong)

Maggie