Forget the LHC and a little party made a few days ago to announce the discovery of a Higgs boson of the type .
Now, a team of physicists from Germany and the United States has announced a similar discovery – a type Higgs boson.
If the finding is similar, however, the techniques used are radically different.
The LHC, which is the largest scientific experiment in history, with a tunnel of 27 km at the border between Switzerland and France, $ 8 billion and is designed to operate up to 14 tera-electron volts (TeV) – due to technical problems today it works only 8 TeV.
Manuel Endres and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute, on the other hand, found the Higgs-type excitations in the transition between different phases of matter in a system of ultracold atoms, close to absolute zero, in a device the size of a table.
In fact, what really separates the two experiments is the scale – not just size, but mainly the energy scale.
While the LHC experiments are performed at higher energies can be achieved, the new experiment was carried out in the smallest possible energy ranges.
Putting in numbers, LHC experiments are conducted at energies 12 orders of magnitude larger than the typical energies at room temperature, the new experiment was conducted in a magnitude 11 orders of magnitude smaller than the typical energies at room temperature.
In the new experiment, a magnetic material was cooled below the Curie temperature, developing a “global order”, then excited to produce a collective oscillation, in which all particles move in a coordinated manner.
If the collective behavior of particles follows the rules of relativity, one can develop a special type of oscillation, called the Higgs excitation.
This field is fundamental to the standard model of elementary particles, where it is called the Higgs boson.
In theory, sound systems can also present Higgs excitations, since the collective movement of their particles follow rules similar to the theory of relativity.
The experiment began with the cooling of rubidium atoms to temperatures near absolute zero.
They were then injected into a two-dimensional optical lattice, like a checkerboard, where light and dark frames are produced by laser beams interfere with each other.
In these networks, ultracold atoms can assume different states of matter. And those transitions that scientists found the Higgs boson.
Relativistic effective field theory
In very intense optical networks – which means a very strong contrast between the dark space and the bright areas – it develops a highly ordered state, called Mott insulator .
In this state, each frame of the network is occupied by exactly one atom, which is fixed in place. If the intensity of the network is continuously reduced, there is a phase transition to a superfluid.
In a superfluid all atoms are part of a single field, which extends throughout the network with the collective movement of the system being described by a quantum wave extended.
The dynamics of quantum field follows the laws of the “relativistic effective field theory”, in which the speed of light is replaced by the speed of sound.
Finally, when the system is forced out of balance are collective oscillations generated in the form of excitation boson.
The existence of the Higgs excitations in such systems has been the subject of intense debate among theoretical physicists.
“We detect a phenomenon that currently can not be calculated precisely. This makes our experimental observation even more important,” concludes Manuel Endres, the main proponent of the experiment.
How to compare the Higgs boson at the LHC with the “new” Higgs boson?
It is very difficult to compare the two results, the Higgs particle type found by the LHC and the Higgs field excitation type found in the transition phases of ultracold system.
This situation, moreover very common in physics, where the same theoretical concept is used to describe different physical systems.
Think, for example, the concept of the wave.
The movement of the collective particles is described as “wave equations” in very different physical conditions, which can be water in the waves, sound waves in air or solids, or electromagnetic waves.
In the theoretical description of these systems, the “waves” appear as a common concept. However, these systems are very different and the theoretical description of each may have different levels of complexity – electromagnetic waves are much more complicated than sound waves.
Likewise there may be systems in all these waves, Higgs bosons may appear in many different situations.
The experiment conducted in Germany is now the simplest that allows the emergence of an excitation of the Higgs type. It can therefore be considered as a model system. The description of the physics being done at the LHC is much more complex.
An important aspect is that the LHC and the Higgs boson system ultracold appear in very different energy scales.
However, in both cases, the theoretical description is similar.
Thus, it is like comparing the waves in the ocean with huge waves that you can do in a glass of water. The physics is similar, but the energy scales are totally different.