The mystery of the Higgs boson, the so called God Particle, will be solved by 2012. This claim came from CERN a couple of days back. CERN spokesperson, Fabiola Gianotti, said:
By the end of 2012 we will either discover the Standard Model Higgs Boson, if it exists, or we will rule it out
Make or (almost) break:
This has caused quite a bit of excitement in the physics quarters, with people betting both ways, but leaning towards a successful search. The Higgs boson is supposed to endow all particles in the universe with mass. The mass of a particle depends on the strength of interaction with the Higgs field. Whereas a photon (particle of light) doesn’t interact with the field at all, an electron neutrino (a very light particle) interacts very weakly, while a proton (comparatively heavy) interacts much more strongly. The mechanism by which an interacting particle gets mass is called the Higgs mechanism, after the British physicist Peter Higgs, who first proposed it. Since then, the Higgs has been hot property in the particle physics arena, and has evoked strong interest outside it too. Probably, it is the most popular boson after the photon. The Higgs fits in nicely with the present Standard Model. The only problem is that it hasn’t been detected as yet.
If the Higgs boson were found, it would put an everlasting stamp of approval on the Standard Model. However, an unsuccessful search will not invalidate the Standard Model, as some people believe. There are many less known mechanisms not involving the Higgs, which describes how particles get mass.
The LHC was built with a primary aim of detecting the Higgs, especially with the Tevatron at Fermilab, the biggest collider before the LHC, shutting down in 2011. The enthusiasm to get at the Higgs is palpable within the science community and the desperation can be felt by the leakage of a memo at CERN a few days back. ATLAS, CERN has however invalidated the memo, which stated that a Higgs signature has been found.
Smashing protons (and heavier nuclei) travelling at velocities close to that of light, scientists hope to recreate the conditions that supposedly existed right after the Big Bang. The LHC recently crossed the 7 TeV energy limit and also set a new record for beam intensity. This is, however, just half of its maximum capability. Scientists are busy acquiring and sifting through data of the order of terabytes, looking for a sign of the elusive Higgs and any of its heavier super-symmetric partners that the Standard Model predicts will have to exist, if the Higgs exists.
There will be an answer. Whether that answer will please Standard Model physicists is another question, and we will have to wait till 2012 for that.
Watch this space for more…