The nerdosphere is abound with rumors that one of the most ambitious scientific experiments in history may finally have yielded some tangible results. The Higg Boson particle, aka the "God Particle," may have been found, which would not only validate the Large Hadron Collider, but shake up particle physics, too.
Last December, the pan-European research institute CERN released some bits of info leading many to believe that the organization's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) may have finally found the illusive Higgs Boson particle. Researchers quickly walked back some of the rumors noting that while they had found some "tantalizing hints," more examination was necessary.
The Higgs Boson particle is a theoretical particle that would explain why things have mass and interact with other particles. It's the last piece of the Standard Model of particle physics that scientists have yet to directly observe. The discovery of the Higgs is so central to our understanding of the universe that multiple nations have contributed nine billion dollars to build the LHC, the only machine with enough ooomf to — in theory — detect Higgs particles by smashing protons together at high velocities.
But just as dreams of a finally finding the Higgs settled down, the rumor mill had started to pop and sizzle once again. Recently, the New York Times reported that a team at CERN had met to crunch numbers from last year's experiments and compare them to newer data to see if researchers are at least on the right path. According to the report, the team is racing to prepare a presentation at the International Conference on High Energy Physics, or ICHEP, in Melbourne, Australia, which will begin July 4.
Following the report and several blog postings on the subject. Physics blogger Peter Woit chimed in:
The 2012 data that is being analyzed for ICHEP is of a similar size to the 2011 data. If 2011 was a fluke, you expect to see nothing much around 125 GeV in the 2012 data. If the 2011 signal really was the Higgs you expect the signal to strengthen. What I'm hearing from both experiments is that they are seeing an excess in the new data, strengthening the significance of the signal.
As the story caught fire and #HiggsRumour started trending on Twitter, Fabiola Gianotti, the spokeswoman for one of the research teams sent out an e-mail pleading "Please do not believe the blogs."
According to the Times report, much of this confirmation process is still on-going:
Right now, most of the physicists doing the work do not even know what they have. In order to avoid bias, the physicists involved avoided looking at most of the crucial data until last week, when they "unblinded" it. About 500 physicists on each team are analyzing eight different ways a Higgs boson, once produced in the collider, might decay and leave its signature.
And furthermore, the researchers will not have a final analysis of the information until the end of June as final preparations are made for the ICHEP presentation.