If You Want More Higgs Hype, Don’t Read This Column by John Horgan.
So it’s finally, probably, maybe, happened. Although they are still hedging a bit, physicists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, announced this morning that they had found the long-sought Higgs boson. First postulated almost a half century ago by physicist Peter Higgs (who attended the press conference today at CERN) and others, the Higgs particle is believed to confer mass to quarks, electrons and other building blocks of our world. (For a primer on the Higgs, see this terrific video by Scientific American‘s George Musser.)
After presentations by two groups gathering data from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, CERN director general Rolf Dieter Heuer said, according to The Independent, “As a layman, I would say that I think we have it. Do you agree?” After the audience erupted into applause, Heuer added, “We have a discovery. We have observed a new particle consistent with a Higgs Boson…but which one, it remains open.” “If scientists are lucky,” Dennis Overbye wrote in The New York Times, “the discovery could lead to a new understanding of how the universe began.”
But a few reports were tinged with gloom. Physicist-journalist Adrian Cho noted in Science that “even as physicists celebrate, the discovery raises worries among some that there may remain no new physics that can be discovered with the atom-smasher.” Cho quoted Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg: “My nightmare, and it’s not just me, but a lot of us [in particle physics], is that the LHC discovers the Higgs boson and nothing else… That would be like closing a door.”
More at SA.