Physicists Get Another Clue in the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Particle

By Eliza Strickland | March 16, 2009 9:17 am

FermilabParticle physicists have ruled out one of the possible remaining hiding places of the Higgs boson, bringing them one step closer to finding the slippery subatomic particle–or, conceivably, to ruling out its existence.

Physicists believe that the Higgs particle interacts with some other particles, like the W and Z bosons, to give them mass. The standard quip about the Higgs is that it is the “God Particle” — it is everywhere but remains frustratingly elusive. Confirming the Higgs would fill a huge gap in the so-called Standard Model, the theory that summarizes our present knowledge of particles [AFP].

The new results, from the Tevatron particle accelerator at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, narrow down the range of masses where the Higgs boson may be found. Physicist Craig Blocker explains that particle accelerators smash particles together and then sift through the debris produced, looking for particles with certain masses. Previous collider experiments had placed a lower bound of 114 giga-electron volts (GeV), a measure that can be used for particle mass, on the Higgs, and theoretical calculations require it to be less than 185 GeV. The new Fermilab results, from its Tevatron collider, rule out a Higgs mass between 160 and 170 GeV…. “If the Higgs had a mass in this fairly narrow range” of 160 to 170 GeV, he says, “we should have seen it, we had a good chance to see it” [Scientific American].

The Large Hadron Collider is widely expected to find the Higgs boson when it’s fully operational (the LHC started up with much fanfare in the fall, but an accident forced it to shut down for repairs until September of 2009). Researchers say that the new results mean that the LHC won’t have a quick route to success. The LHC was designed to collide particles with five times the energy of the Tevatron, and would have excelled at hunting for a high-mass Higgs particle. “If the Higgs existed at one of those high masses, then they could have anticipated discovering it very quickly,” says Darien Wood [Nature News], a particle physicist who works with the Tevatron.

It’s possible that the Tevatron will find a low-mass Higgs before the LHC comes back online, but most researchers say the more powerful LHC is still most likely to discover the elusive particle. But there is one other slim possibility–that the colliders will rule out all the possible masses for the Higgs boson, and still won’t find it. “That would basically mean we have a very deep and fundamental lack of understanding of what is going on in the Standard Model,” [physicist Craig] Blocker says. “If there’s not something like the Higgs or something similar giving masses to the W and Z [bosons], we have no clue as to how that’s happening” [Scientific American].

Related Content:
Cosmic Variance: Closing in on the Higgs Boson has more details on the latest findings
80beats: Until Next Fall, LHC Smashes Only Hopes, Not Particles
80beats: Ghost in the Machine? Physicists May Have Detected a New Particle at Fermilab
DISCOVER: Catch Me If You Can charts the search for the Higgs boson
DISCOVER: The Biggest Thing in Physics explains the LHC’s two approaches to finding the Higgs

Image: Fermilab

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math
  • carlos chambi

    a mi forma de ver encontrar higgs bosones va ser dificil de encontrar en un laboratorio,personal mente yo estoy trabajando acerca de la formación de la masa muy pronto estaré dando a conocer a los físicos centros de investigación.mi parece que los físicos se han cansado ya no encuentro en las paginas de Internet nuevas buenas,siempre estaré contando los en proxímas oportunidades.

  • SeanDudeMan

    Ingles por favor!

  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/ Uncle Al

    No Higgs (conferring mass to the massless standard model); no supersymmetry (SUSY); no supergravity (SUGRA); no string theory (uniting gravitation with quantum field theory). Physics’ obsession with theory arising from fundamental maximal symmetries is insufficient for a universe of chiral asymmetries. Chirality must be a starting point not a decoration.

    The Equivalence Principle has been locally and astronomically validated against every imaginable composition of matter from beryllium through pulsars. “God is a geometer”, Plato (and Einstein). Test spacetime geometrically. All the atoms in space group P3(1)21 quartz form right-handed 3-fold helices. All the atoms in space group P3(2)21 quartz form left-handed 3-fold helices. Do solid spherical single crystals of each vacuum free fall identically? Nobody has looked. If they do not… gravitation is teleparallel not metric. Matter-antimatter imbalance arises as inflation was powered by a diluting chiral vacuum pseudotensor field background. Biological homochirality is sourced. Perturbational string theory dependent upon BRST invariance is demonstrated wrong.

    It is not what you do not know that hurts you. It is what you know to be true that can be empirically falsified, now surfacing to your profession’s bewilderment. Perform a parity Eotvos experiment to confirm or deny the increasingly obvious – a weak founding postulate. The vacuum is demonstrably not isotropic in the massed sector.

  • Ian

    Uncle Al…

    Smart guy…Horrible communcator.

    The guy has untreated ADHD and changes topics at faster-than-light-speed (FTLS). This can also not be explained by the Standard Model.

  • twobyfour

    Ian, smart? I can write a generator that would spew meaningless neologisms at a rate that would make one’s head spin. To Uncle Al, it seems that it comes naturally, but I am not sure that it can be associated with smarts. I’ve seen semantic emulators making more sense. ;-)

  • Jon Brooks

    Mayhaps more like Rockford in “The Rockford files”, trying to sneak into a data center waaaaay back when (286′s on the desktops):

    Thug: “What are you doing here!?”
    Rockford: “I’m here to degauss the hardrives!”

  • Ray

    If you look at data as being the fundumental particle, and its density as the manafestation of the Standard Model, then the Higgs would be the lowest density data (space) and could account for vacuum energy simply by coming into existence. The production of low density data (space) would force separation. Without space, nothing changes, there is no time.

  • Ben

    Occam rezor is needed.Higgs bozon,strings,dark matter,teleportation-sounds as arian physics.

  • zhigang zhou

    What is God Particle? According my fresh thought:
    1. It is a naked singularity of mass or the smallest black hole in the Universe;
    2. It has huge naked mass, gravitation and inertia;
    3. It is not a material particle;
    4. It is not in the Standard Model of elementary particles;
    5. It is an Ultimate Particle, cannot be decay;
    6. Its Mass cannot be converted into energy;
    7. The lowest limit of its mass is about 10.9μg, and the upper limit is about 0.67*10^6kg, that means that its mass may be exceeded one kilogram!
    8. Estimated mass of Higgs Particle is about 16 orders of magnitude smaller than lower limit of Mass of God Particle at least. So the mass of God Particle is substantially undervalued by mainstream physics
    9. So Higgs particle is not God particle;
    10. And so I believe that to find the God particle with LHC is an impossible mission, LHC efforts will be ended in failure, it is destined. I think that to find God Particle with colliders (such as LHC) is an extremely extravagant wrong way.

    How to find God Particle?
    Based on my bran-new thread, I design several kinds of very simple and very cheap physical experimental methods to find the God particle, to make a small black hole and to create new unknown stable material particles without using any accelerator or collider such as LHC.
    Maybe to find God Particle is not a hard mission for me?
    Revolution in Physics will soon arrival, believe me.

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