Confirmation of Higgs moves step closer
New results keep Higgs discovery on track
A small stretch of the 27-km long Large Hadron Collider based at Cern on the French/Swiss border. The ring-shaped collider guides streams of particles that can be smashed together to study the nature of matter.
Dick Ahlstrom, Science Editor
It walks like a Higgs and quacks like a Higgs but final confirmation that the elusive Higgs boson actually exists has yet to come.
Scientists gathered today at the Moriond Conference in La Thuile, Italy had hoped that the latest research findings from the European nuclear research centre Cern would deliver proof of the Higgs. But unlike in Rome no white smoke appeared to deliver a final decision.
The Higgs boson only exists as a theory at the moment, a small but crucial part of a master theory that attempts to explain all the forces that bind together the visible matter in our universe. All of the sub-atomic components of this Standard Model have been found and confirmed...except for the Higgs.
Cern is using a massive €4 billion 27-kilometre long atom smasher called the Large Hadron Collider to find the Higgs and last summer Cern scientists released the first tantalising results that the Higgs is there and in the form expected.
Since then a great deal more information has been gathered and analysed and the preliminary results again bring the search right to the very edge of confirmation - but without actually delivering it.
The latest data “strongly indicates that it is a Higgs boson”, but unfortunately the jury remains out. It remained “an open question” whether it is the Higgs as predicted in the Standard Model other some other boson that doesn't match up with the current theories, Cern officials said earlier today.
Despsite the lack of confirmation, it still represents an advance, said Prof Ronan McNulty, head of the high energy particle physics experimental group at University College Dublin. He and his team are collaborators on the LHCb experiment at Cern.
"A slight simplification might be that on July 4th they said 'we have found a new boson', while now they are saying 'this new boson looks and smells like a Higgs'," Prof McNulty explained.
"The actual type of Higgs though is still being investigated. So as time goes on, and we get more and more data, our understanding of this new particle becomes more and more precise."