We had a false alarm over the possible discovery of the theory-unifying Higgs boson last year, but a bit of poking and prodding in subsequent months may well have given us much more definitive evidence of the elusive particle. According to some rare rumors emerging from Nature, both CERN's ATLAS and CMS detectors have seen particle decay signals suggesting the existence of Higgs to within a 4.5 to 5 sigma level of proof -- in other words, very nearly concrete evidence. That's not quite the 5-plus needed to settle the matter, but it's to a much higher level of certainty than before. As if to add fuel to the fire, ScienceNews even located a briefly posted, CERN-made video (sadly, since pulled) saying bluntly that the CMS team had "observed a new particle."
Whether or not there's any substance is another matter. Nature hears that scientists are supposedly still working out what to say at an event on Wednesday, while CERN has made the slightly odd claim to ScienceNews that the yanked video is just one of several pre-recorded segments made to cover possible outcomes -- you know, in that "Dewey defeats Truman" sort of way. Unless the scientists have to go back to the drawing board, though, the focus from now on may be more on learning how Higgs behaves than its very existence. Any significant truth could see researchers proving the validity of the standard model of physics just as we're firing up our Independence Day barbecues.Permalink | | Email this | Comments