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Coaxing the Higgs out of Hiding

The Higgs Boson, an elementary particle thought to give mass to all other particles, remains an elusive final piece of the Standard Model of physics. On The Weizmann Wave, Professor Eilam Gross writes “many scientists believe that the Standard Model will stand or fall on the discovery of Higgs boson particles or proof that they don’t exist.” Titanic efforts at the Large Hadron Collider over the last year have been geared toward observing the Higgs, but despite suggestive data released on Tuesday, the indisputable remains out of reach. Kostas Nikolopoulos writes on Brookhaven Bits & Bytes that the LHC will restart in spring 2012 and “should be able to double the available dataset in time for the summer conferences.” Until then, evidence for a Higgs particle at a mass of 126 GeV could be considered a statistical fluke. Ethan Siegel provides detailed insight into the science on Starts With a Bang, considering the theoretical consequences of not finding the Higgs, or finding it at different masses. A Higgs would be hard to create, and quickly decay into less exotic particles, blending into the elementary soup created by the proton collisions. And due to Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, “a very short-lived particle actually picks up an intrinsic uncertainty in its mass.” So while the early data is compelling, Ethan concludes “it takes a 99.99995% certainty in order to call something a discovery these days.”