Questions and Answers about the Higgs boson

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The European Organisation for Nuclear Research ( CERN announced today that scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider found a particle that – it seems – corresponds to the Higgs boson, whose existence had been predicted theoretically. Dubbed by some as the God particle, the Higgs boson is a fundamental piece in the puzzle of physical modern.The experimental proof of its existence is an important milestone for science . Here are some details about the discovery.

1 The existence of the Higgs boson is proven?

You can say yes, although there is no 100% sure. Two different experiments performed in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland, found a particle whose characteristics correspond to the Higgs boson.Scientists estimate that the chance of the particle is not found this boson is only one in about 3.5 million. It is a very high degree of certainty.

Still, physicists are cautious in presenting their findings.They say there is still much work to do to take away this uncertainty. The chance that there is some experimental error is also not completely ruled out. But the results are consistent and plausible.

2 How important is this discovery?

The Higgs boson was predicted as part of the Standard Model, used in modern physics to explain the constitution of matter. It was expected that the single particle model that had not yet been observed experimentally. The experimental evidence shows that the Standard Model is correct.

If, however, physicists discovered that the Higgs boson does not exist, would have to elaborate a new model. In this case, many studies in recent decades need to be revised. 

3 Why the name is Higgs boson?

Boson is a class of subatomic particles provided in the Standard Model. Higgs is one of the scientists who contributed to the development of this theory in the 60s. 

Scotsman Peter Higgs, now 83, attended the event at CERN in which we presented the results of the experiments. He declared himself thrilled and said he did not expect the existence of the particle was confirmed while he was alive. In his view, it would still take decades to happen.

4 Why is the Higgs has been dubbed the “God particle”?

Many scientists do not like this nickname of uncertain origin. It comes from the fact that the Higgs boson gives mass to other subatomic particles. He would then be the “divine touch” that allowed the existence of the universe as we know it. 

5 How was the observation of the Higgs?

The physicists used the giant particle accelerator LHC to perform proton collisions at nearly the speed of light. These shocks proton cause the emission of other subatomic particles, even smaller than them.

Although it is not possible to observe these particles directly, one can find evidence of their presence by means of detectors also enormous. The data collected in two of the LHC detectors – Atlas and CMS – indicate that the Higgs boson is among the particles released in the collisions.

6 Why only now found this particle?

The search took decades and required the construction of particle accelerators more powerful.The Standard Model predicts several things about the Higgs boson, but its mass does not provide. The greater the mass of a particle, must be the most powerful accelerator to study it.

CERN began searching for the Higgs in his former LEP accelerator, deactivated in 2000. As it was not successful, it became clear that the particle mass was high and would require a machine more powerful than the LEP. Further experiments were made in theTevatron accelerator, which ran until 2011 Femilab in the United States.

Scientists at Fermilab have concluded that the Higgs should be in the range 115-135 gigaelétron-volt (GeV – as mass and energy are related by the equation e = mc ², physicists use the power unit to indicate the mass of particles). The LHC, which went into regular operation in 2010, is the most powerful accelerator ever built. With him, it was possible to detect and estimate the Higgs mass between 125 and 126 GeV, in the middle of the range provided by the staff of Fermilab. 

7 Once the discovery, which is the next step?

The first task is to determine the physical mass of the particle detected at the LHC with more precision. Then they have to study its characteristics and check if they correspond to those laid down in theory. This will increase the certainty that she is indeed the Higgs boson particle and not some exotic hitherto unknown.

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