A seminar is currently in progress at CERN1 in Geneva, Switzerland. Yes, I’m awake at 3 AM following Cosmic Variance‘s live blog of the event on the July 4th holiday, because my life rules. At the seminar, results of the ATLAS and CMS experiments are being discussed. Here’s the short version: their results have finally reached the threshold where they can comfortably say they have found “a new particle in the mass region around 125-126 GeV”.
The characteristics of this particle are consistent with the theoretical characteristics of the Higgs boson, the particle assumed to give mass to other particles, which could be viewed as a “gravitational charge” in the same way an electron gives other particles an electrical charge. There’s a video below explaining this theory in layman’s terms.
And on a quick sidenote, I refuse to call the Higgs boson “the God particle” because something which theoretically gives particles mass is no more a God particle than an electron is a God particle for giving an atom an electrical charge. This “God particle” business just freaks out creationists and encourages them to do stupid things.
CERN says in a just-published press release of great historical significance:
“The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found,” said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela. [...]
The next step will be to determine the precise nature of the particle and its significance for our understanding of the universe. Are its properties as expected for the long-sought Higgs boson, the final missing ingredient in the Standard Model of particle physics? Or is it something more exotic? The Standard Model describes the fundamental particles from which we, and every visible thing in the universe, are made, and the forces acting between them. All the matter that we can see, however, appears to be no more than about 4% of the total. A more exotic version of the Higgs particle could be a bridge to understanding the 96% of the universe that remains obscure.
In other words, if this isn’t the Standard Model Higgs boson, it’s probably still another type of Higgs boson which gives particles their mass. Either way, this is an enormous achievement, and our understanding of particle physics is about to take a leap forward. This is streets ahead, my friends. Now let’s get rip-roaring drunk to celebrate our independence and how awesome science is.