Fermilab Particle Physicists Wonder: Are There 5 Higgs Bosons?

By Joseph Calamia | June 15, 2010 5:41 pm

TevatronIf the Higgs boson is the “God Particle,” then some particle physicists just turned polytheistic. To explain a recent experiment, they wonder if five Higgs bosons give our universe mass instead of one.

Last month, we discussed a curious experiment at the Tevatron particle accelerator at Fermilab near Chicago. Colliding protons and antiprotons, the Tevratron’s DZero group found more matter than antimatter.

This agrees well with common sense–if the Big Bang had really churned out equal amounts of matter and antimatter, the particles would have annihilated each other, and we wouldn’t be here. Unfortunately, the physics for this matter favoritism doesn’t make sense.

For one, it requires some fudging to fit the Standard Model, the organizing theory for particle physics. This might seem sad since we were so close to finishing the Standard Model up, with the Higgs filling the last cage in physicists’ particle zoo:

For those who believe the Standard Model is nearly complete, the discovery of the Higgs boson–a theoretical particle that imparts mass to all the other particles–would close out the final chapter. But for others who think that undiscovered physics properties exist–so-called new physics–a sequel to the Standard Model is needed. [Symmetry]

What would a sequel to the Standard Model look like? The Higgs Strikes Back might include five Higgses, particle physicists at the DZero group speculate: all with the same mass, three uncharged, one with a positive charge, and one with a negative charge. Theoretical physicists have already dreamt up this possibility, calling it the “two-Higgs doublet model.”

As explained in a BBC report, this version of the Standard Model would leave most of the original theory intact, a feat in a system that doesn’t have much wiggle room:

“In models with an extra Higgs doublet, it’s easy to have large new physics effects like this DZero result,” [Fermilab’s Adam Martin] explained. “What’s difficult is to have those large effects without damaging anything else that we have already measured.” Dr Martin explained that there were other possible interpretations for the DZero result. But he added: “The Standard Model fits just about every test we’ve thrown at it. To fit in a new effect in one particular place is not easy.” [BBC]

Given, that the Fermilab found this antimatter vs matter result, we might wonder if they too will find these fascinating, elusive Higgs boson particles, perhaps stepping on the toes of their higher-energy rival, the Large Hadron Collider.

It may comes down to how much mass these particles have (currently unknown). If the Higgs are Greek god particles, Fermilab is better suited to detect a more delicate Athena Higgs, while LHC might more easily find a fatter Silenus particle.

Related content:
Discoblog: World Science Festival: What if Physicists Don’t Find the Higgs Boson?
80beats: In the Universe’s Decisive Battle, Why Did Matter Prevail Over Antimatter?
80beats: LHC Beam Zooms Past 1 Trillion Electron Volts, Sets World Record
80beats: In 1 Week, the LHC Will Try to Earn the Title, “Big Bang Machine”
Discoblog: I Swear: Subatomic Particles Are Singing to Me!

Image: Fermilab

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Physics & Math
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