Added 2 new A* pages:The big news of the moment is, as the BBC puts it, "Higgs boson-like particle discovery claimed at LHC." There's a photo of Peter Higgs in that article! He was present at the announcement, such is the excitement of probably finding something *similar* to this massive mystery particle that's supposed to be the thing that gives mass to everything, and which CERN's huge particle accelerator in the middle of Europe, the Large Hadron Collider, was more or less built to find--because to isolate the traces of the decay of a huge, incredibly unstable particle, you need to create a very powerful (remember, energy = mass, as Einstein told us) event in very controlled conditions. A juicy quote from the article:|
|The CMS team claimed they had seen a "bump" in their data corresponding to a particle weighing in at 125.3 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) - about 133 times heavier than the proton at the heart of every atom.|
They claimed that by combining two data sets, they had attained a confidence level just at the "five-sigma" point - about a one-in-3.5 million chance that the signal they see would appear if there were no Higgs particle.
However, a full combination of the CMS data brings that number just back to 4.9 sigma - a one-in-2 million chance.
Joe Incandela, spokesman for CMS, was unequivocal: "The results are preliminary but the five-sigma signal at around 125 GeV we're seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle," he told the Geneva meeting.
Now, if you're like me and wondering, for instance, how something 133 times heavier than an atom of hydrogen could give hydrogen its mass, the BBC's Higgs Boson Q&A is well worth a read as it does a much better job than I possibly could of describing these highly unintuitive quantum things.
As someone who has taken the opportunity to doubt the existence of the Higgs boson at every turn, let me be the first to say "well I'll be darned." Mind you, they aren't sure this *is* the Higgs boson that would so neatly tie together some of the loose ends of the much beloved Standard Model of our understanding of the universe (minus gravity and a few other things maybe), but it is probably something, and something of a similar energy level to what was predicted for Higgs. But I do join (apparently) scientists in hoping that it isn't exactly the thing predicted by the Model, because that would be boring, and might not get us very far, since while it might confirm some things, it wouldn't necessarily point to something beyond the current theory, which we've been stuck with for eh hm decades? without really earth-shatteringly significant progress.
So! Higgs or not, hopefully it will be something that will lead us to new levels of understanding this nutty universe of ours.
And in other senses-shattering news, we have reached the end of episode 16! Episode 17 *probably* starts tomorrow--if I survive fireworks. Aaand if I get the first actual dialogue lines written. >_>