This week those responsible for working to find the elusive subatomic big of matter known as the Higgs boson have confirmed that they have, indeed, been able to confirm its existence. Of course as these scientists at CERN are, indeed, scientists, most have been just as cautious about saying they’re sure of their findings as their post would indicate: the data “strongly indicates that it is a Higgs boson” – is what they’ve announced today. This is indeed a proud day for the $10 billion dollar Large Hadron Collider one way or another.
The initial suggestion that the particle science may have confirmed this week could exist came from 83-year-old Peter Higgs and his team. Though immediately following the announcement it’s been suggested more than once that this discovery will summon a Nobel prize for someone, it’s not quite clear whether the CERN team or Higgs himself would be up for recognition. If the award weren’t just limited to humans, the prize may well have been headed directly for CERN’s Large Hadron Collider itself, it and its 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel altogether.
This machine is responsible for creating the energy surges needed to discover the Higgs boson. With collision simulations of the energies generated immediately following the initial Big Bang that created our universe, only one in every trillion tests would – and perhaps has – created a Higgs boson particle.
The confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson particle would, in turn, prove the existence of the Higgs field. The Higgs field is part of what’s called the Standard Model of particle physics that explains why some particles have mass. Discovering the Higgs boson and confirming the Higgs field would in turn validate the last in a series of parts included in the Standard Model.
If the Standard Model is validated in full, this could open the door to developments in what at the moment is called “new” physics. If we’re moving from the Standard Model towards “new” physics, we’ll eventually be lead to new technologies and innovations whose reach is currently incalculable.
The possibilities here are well and above the cost – any cost – that creating the Large Hadron Collider could have created as the end result could change our understanding of how the universe fits together – and how we interact with it. The possibilities are endless, and right this minute we’re at a point in our collective history that we may well be placing in history books forevermore!
[image via Wikipedia]