Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hunting Higgs: Large Hadron Collider Fires Up Again

The Higgs Boson

The Large Hadron Collider, at long last, is online and cooking. 

NY TIMES: The soundless blooming of proton explosions was accompanied by the hoots and applause of scientists crowded into control rooms at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which built the collider. The relief spread to bleary gatherings of particle physicists all around the world, who have collectively staked the future of their profession on the idea that the new collider will eventually reveal new secrets of the universe, like the identity of the dark matter that shapes the visible cosmos and the strange particle known as the “Higgs,” which is thought to imbue other particles with mass. Until now, these have been tantalizingly out of reach.



“We’re expecting some answers,” said David Politzer, a Nobel laureate at the California Institute of Technology, where refreshments in a conference room overflowing with Los Angeles-area physicists attending a midnight remote viewing included matzos, chips and pizza.


Rolf Heuer, director general of CERN, speaking from Japan, said the new collider “opens a new window of discovery and it brings, with patience, new knowledge of the universe and the microcosm. It shows what one can do in bringing forward knowledge.” He added: “It will also bring out an army of children and young people who will get into the private sector and academia.”

Link here.

Will this turn up the elusive Higgs Boson, aka "The G-d Particle"?Some have argued that there already exists potential evidence, but to date no such evidence has convinced the physics community.


In a recent preprint, it has even been suggested (and commented as "important physical news" by several websites, e.g. under the headline Higgs could reveal itself in Dark-Matter collisions by Physics World, a website supported by the British Institute of Physics) that the Higgs Boson might not only interact with the above-mentioned particles of the Standard model of particle physics, but also with the mysterious WIMPs ("weakly interacting massive particles") of the Dark matter, playing a most-important role in recent astrophysics. In this case, it is natural to augment the above Feynman diagrams by terms representing such an interaction.

In principle, a relation between the Higgs particle and the Dark matter would be "not unexpected", since, (i), the Higgs field does not directly couple to the quanta of light (i.e. the photons), while at the same time, (ii), it generates mass

In Stanisław Lem's Solaris, a space station crew deals with an inexplicable presence of other people, including absent or deceased friends and relatives — apparently the creations of an alien phenomenon they are studying. They discover that their visitors, when killed, always return to life, even if they attempt to kill themselves. (In the novel, these "ghosts" are described as being constructed from long-range energy fields derived from bound states of neutrinos.) In Steven Soderbergh's 2002 film adaptation, the script has a reference to Higgs bosons, absent in the original: "So, if we created a negative Higgs field, and bombarded them with a stream of Higgs anti-bosons, they might disintegrate."

In Robert J. Sawyer's Flashforward, an experiment at CERN to find the Higgs particle causes the consciousness of the entire human race to be sent twenty-one years into the future.


The current news reflects numerous starts and restarts for the LHC. What news next on the hunt for the Higgs Boson?

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