An invisible force that shapes the Universe and decides how things work... No, we're not talking about the Force or anything even slightly related to Father Jorge, Pope Francis I. We're talking about the deep physics of the Higgs boson, one of the most fundamental particles in the Universe*. CERN physicists have confirmed this morning that they are confident that the efforts of the Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator have revealed proof of the Higgs boson.
Last year the teams in Geneva said they had found something that was "Higgs-like." This means that in the data from their atom-colliding experiments inside the LHC they had seen something that behaved a lot like theories say the Higgs particle would. Now they're more confident, and have decided that the results actually are evidence for the mysterious Higgs itself.
There are still questions about the Higgs, however, and scientists are saying they have to find out "what kind of Higgs boson" they've found. They'll have to wait a while to use the LHC to gather further evidence, though, as it's in a two year long shut-down period while its various systems are upgraded, the better to reach atom smashing energies nearly twice as big as it currently can.
*If you're curious about it, the Higgs boson has nothing to do with "God" per se, and its holy name is more or less a pun. This is because in theories about the universe, the Higgs particle explains why some of the tiny bits of stuff that [i]everything, ever, everywhere is made of have some mass rather than zero. Finding it is enormously important because it proves our physical models are right.[/i]
[Image: Flickr user xoranus]