A Quantum Leap
By LAWRENCE KRAUSS - SLATE
Added: Wed, 04 Jul 2012 11:31:28 UTC
The discovery of the Higgs boson particle puts our understanding of nature on a new firm footing.
A model of the Large Hadron Collider tunnel in the CERN visitors' center.
Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images
Who would have believed it? Every now and then theoretical speculation anticipates experimental observation in physics. It doesn’t happen often, in spite of the romantic notion of theorists sitting in their rooms alone at night thinking great thoughts. Nature usually surprises us. But today, two separate experiments at the Large Hadron Collider of the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva reported convincing evidence for the long sought-after “Higgs” particle, first proposed to exist almost 50 years ago and at the heart of the “standard model” of elementary particle physics—the theoretical formalism that describes three of the four known forces in nature, and which to date agrees with every experimental observation done to date.
The LHC is the most complex (and largest) machine that humans have ever built, requiring thousands of physicists from dozens of countries, working full time for a decade to build and operate. And even with 26 kilometers of tunnel, accelerating two streams of protons in opposite directions at more than 99.9999 percent the speed of light and smashing them together in spectacular collisions billions of times each second, producing hundreds of particles in each collision; two detectors the size of office buildings to measure the particles; and a bank of more than 3,000 computers analyzing the events in real time in order to search for something interesting, the Higgs particle itself never directly appears.
Like the proverbial Cheshire cat, the Higgs instead leaves only a smile, by which I mean it decays into other particles that can be directly observed. After a lot of work and computer time, one can follow all the observed particles backward and determine the mass and other properties of the invisible Higgs candidates.
Robert Wright - The Atlantic Comments
Hawking wasn't available to answer that question, but I did manage to have a long conversation with an American physicist who had also doubted the existence of the Higgs--Lawrence Krauss
Lawrence M. Krauss - New York Times Comments
A Blip That Speaks of Our Place in the Universe
Lawrence M. Krauss - The Daily Beast Comments
How the Higgs Boson Posits a New Story of our Creation
Johnathan Brown - The Independent Comments
As an atheist with no desire to upset believers, Professor Peter Higgs has always hated the idea of a God particle. He has never been keen on the nomenclature of the Higgs boson either – referring to it as "the particle named after me" on the rare occasions he gives an interview.
Chris Wickham - Reuters 0 Comments
(Reuters) - Scientists at Europe's CERN research centre have found a new subatomic particle, a basic building block of the universe, which appears to be the boson imagined and named half a century ago by theoretical physicist Peter Higgs.
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