The science world was all atwitter last night about today’s announcement from CERN. Had the Higgs boson, the yet-to-be-observed subatomic particle thought by some to endow other particles with mass (prompting the nickname of “God Particle”), finally been found?
Well… kind of…
Today’s announcement said that CERN’s ATLAS experiment showed a statistically suspicious increase in activity that indicates the Higgs could be pinned down with a mass of 126 giga-electron-volts, and the independent CMS experiment found a possible result nearby at 124GeV. But while both experiments see a similar signal, the observed particle decay events could have occurred by chance so this isn’t yet a discovery.
In simple English, that means that they saw something, they have a good idea where to look for it again, but they haven’t quite nailed it down yet. Oh… and it may have just been a fluke.
Even if this signal isn’t from the Higgs, both experiments narrowed down the range in which the Higgs particle could possibly show up. A Higgs in this mass range would likely require new physics beyond the Standard Model — which describes the interactions of all known subatomic particles and forces — in order to be stable.
Over the coming year, more experiments with the Large Hadron Collider will nearly quadruple the data currently gathered, which will give about a 15% boost in data quality.
In other words… it looks like we’ll just have to wait ’till next year.