Friday, May 1, 2009

The Higgs War Rages On

The race continues for who will see the first signs of one of the most sought after particles in physics – the Higgs Boson. Last year, it was a foregone conclusion that the new Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in CERN Switzerland would cross the finish line first. But then the LHC mishap happened and LHC is shut down until October 2009. This means that Fermilab has another chance (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside Chicago). Here are a couple of recent barbs from both sides in the April 2009 issue of the APS News:

“We now have a very, very good chance that we will see hints of the Higgs before the LHC will. It’s a race. Whoever is first is first,” says Dmitri Denisov, Fermilab.

"If they do find the Higgs, good luck to them. But I think it’s unlikely they will find it before the LHC comes online,” responds Lyn Evans, CERN.

Ah, nothing like a physics geek fight! The Higgs boson is important because it explains why all other particles have mass and is fundamental to a complete understanding of matter. The Higgs boson is thought to be highly unstable and, once produced, should quickly decay. The Higgs was first proposed by University of Edinburgh physicist Peter Higgs and colleagues in the last 1960s. The importance of the Higgs to the Standard Model of particle physics has led some to dub it the “God particle.”

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