Analysis: We’re entitled to be over the moon
TANTALISING hints of the Higgs boson have been seen by the Atlas and CMS experiments at the large hadron collider (LHC) but these are not yet strong enough to claim a discovery.
We can view the news like the Apollo missions to the moon. The 2011 data corresponds to Apollo 10 – the technologies required to find the one in ten billion events corresponding to production of the Higgs boson have been fully deployed and tested. We know the path and the Higgs channels that need to be followed.
The LHC and experiments will need to operate even better next year, but given this year’s excellent progress we will discover the origin of mass.
A standard model Higgs boson would confirm a theory put forward in 1964 by Peter Higgs, but there are other forms the Higgs boson could take, linked to theories that go beyond the standard model.
A non-standard model Higgs, currently beyond the reach of the LHC experiments with data so far recorded, would open the door to new physics, whereas the absence of a standard model Higgs would point strongly to new physics at the LHC’s full design energy, set to be achieved after 2014. Whether Atlas and CMS show over the coming months that the standard model Higgs boson exists or not, the LHC programme is opening the way to new physics.
• Tony Doyle is a professor of physics at Glasgow University.
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