Higgs!

Well, this is incredibly exciting! The scientific community has been searching for this for more than 45 years – and today, CERN has announced the discovery of a new particle consistent with the Higgs boson.

There have been a few premature shouts of excitement in the past couple of years, but an analysis of the data sets shows a level of certainty that allows the teams to announce the new particle. This level of confidence is at the five-sigma point.

In simple terms, this means that the chances of observing the results they have if there is NO Higgs boson stand at around 1-in-3.5 million. Which is pretty close to saying they’re 100% sure.

Here are a few vital statistics on the new particle:

  • Mass = 125.3 GeV (gigaelectronvolts)
  • 133 times more massive than a proton
  • The particle decays into photons, Z bosons and W bosons
  • Gives matter mass
  • Holds the fabric of the Universe together

Don’t underestimate how important this discovery is. It’s a giant step forward in our understanding of how and why our Universe works. I think it is exceedingly unlikely that this will not prove to be practically useful; but even if it is not immediately practically useful, the discovery is fantastic. Amazing. Awesome!

Taking another step, walking over the next hill, is vital in our journey. Look at how far we’ve come in the past few hundred years. Who knows where we’ll be next? I’ll be watching closely. Will you?

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2 responses to “Higgs!

  1. These are not my words – I’m saying this to save any Philistines the bother:

    “Blah, blah, what’s the use, blah, blah, how much money, blah, blah, how many hospitals, blah, blah, in a recession”.

    I have yet to see the torrent of Luddites writing letters to the Guardian asking just how many maternity wards could be built for the cost of the LHC, but these are the people who complained about the expense of flint knapping when there were plenty of pointy sticks around, back in the Palaeolithic (40,000 years ago last Friday).

    This is clearly, for reasons I cannot claim to understand fully, a very important discovery.

    • Hehe. To be fair, I’ve not heard anyone say that yet… but my answer is always this.

      If everyone had always said “What’s the use?”, we would never have left the caves. Never have taken a look over the next hill. Certainly never even come close to where we are now!

      Why investigate further? Because we can! Because we have no idea – NONE – as to what practical uses these things may be put to. But we had no idea what practical use many things could be put to.

      And because humans are explorers. It is in our nature to learn, and search out new experiences. It gives us real purpose, something to strive for, and the ability to make the world a better place for everything on it.

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