End of Higgs Search Will Confirm or Refute the Standard Model of Physics 'Within Months'

More

The number one particle on physicists most-wanted list, the Higgs boson, has played a key role in our understanding of the universe. As first predicted in 1964, the Higgs is theorized to be responsible for giving all other particles mass. Only one problem: no one's ever glimpsed one in any experiment ever. And we've been looking. The reason we run high-energy particle collisions is that all kinds of exotic particles can be found in the rubble. Or, more properly, the signatures of their decay into more prosaic subatomic bits can be detected.

Scientists at Fermilab's Tevatron particle collider have been looking for a long, long time -- and they've made significant strides in recent years in constraining the possible attributes of the elusive particle. But the Tevatron doesn't appear to create high enough energy collisions to find the Higgs.

Now, though, CERN's new atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider, has provided what a physicist called a "tantalizing" hint of precisely where the Higgs may be. In fact, "within months" we should have enough data to know for sure where the Higgs is... if it actually exists.

And that's really the most fascinating possibility. If scientists can't find the Higgs even at LHC energies, then the entire model of standard physics will have to be rethought. And there's nothing better in physics than experimental data ruining the theory.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Fascinating Short Film About the Multiverse

If life is a series of infinite possibilities, what does it mean to be alive?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.

Video

How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe

Video

A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.

Video

I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."

Video

Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In