A conference recently held by hunters of the Higgs Boson has presented data that suggests the particle found by the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was indeed the Higgs Boson. However, those who were hoping for more unexpected data that would hint at other as-of-yet unproven theories remain disappointed .
The Higgs Boson, postulated by Peter Higgs, is thought to be the part of the standard model of particle physics that imparts mass to particles. More accurately, particles that posess mass are said to interect with a field, called the Higgs Field. This field slows particles down, giving rise to the phenomena of mass and inertia.
Another branch of physics known as Quantum Field Theory explains that fields are actually composed of a flow of exchange particles and it is the Higgs Boson (which has no spin, electric charge, or color charge) that is the exchange particle of the Higgs Field.
As physicists have predicted ever smaller particles, it became impossible to make direct observerations. Therefore, particle accelerators, aka colliders, were developed that would smash subatomic particles, such as Protons, together. Thanks to the law of the conservation of energy and momentum, physicsts can study all of the detector signals and infer the presence of the constituent particules that were found in the wreckage of the near light-speed collisions.
There was a gap of around 40 years between Peter Higg’s prediction and the construction of an accelerator capable of achieving the energies (i.e. collision speeds) required to create collions violent enough to separate out a Higgs Boson. Also note that these Bosons are incredibly unstable and decay into other particles almost instantaneously and so incredible precision has been required to capture the data that would justify a valid discovery.
Physicists at the Moriond conference detailed observations by teams at CERN, which operates the LHC. Scientists from Chicago’s Fermilab also presented Higgs results. Findings were generally consistent with the Higgs boson. Physicists still want more data before they are ready to proclaim an official discovery though.
It isn’t just Higss Hunters who are watching the torrent of data flowing out of the LHC. Proponents of a theory known as Super Symmetry are looking for previously unseen particles too. Briefly, the theory predicts that for every Boson there is a corresponding Fermion who both share the all the same quantum characteristics but spin, which would necessarily differ by 1/2. The current challenge for Super Symmetry is that no super symmetric partner particles have been found. Physicists at the Moriond Conference have yet to find any uunexpected signatures in the LHC data that could correspond to Super Symmetry.
The search will continue in 2015 when the LHC resumes particle collisions following planned upgrades.