Monday, December 17, 2012

Did scientists discover two Higgs Bosun particles?

One Higgs Bosun particle is not enough. Scientists at Cern who said they had successfully found a Higgs-like particle (they continue to hedge their bets), indicative of a Higgs Boson particle, earlier this year might have accidentally found two.

Data released on Monday by researchers working at the Atlas and Large Hadron Collider experiments seem to point to the existence of two Higgs Boson particles with similar, but slightly different, mass. It has, in fact, been thought that there might be more than one Higgs Bosun particle, but not so close together.

One Higgs Boson appears to have a mass of 123.5 GeV (gigaelectron volts) and one appears to have a mass of 126.6 GeV.

However, scientists still continue to frequently use the term Higgs-like when referring to the particle or particles. Despite that, both teams feel that they are 99.999999999 certain that they have discovered a Higgs Bosun particle.

This would mean they have met 7 sigma certainty. 5 sigma, which is 99.9999 percent certainty (or a 0.00001 chance of an erroneous observation), is considered the threshold for an observation to be labeled a scientific discovery.

The Large Hadron Collider is offline, with upgrades being installed. It's expected to be restarted in 2015, and perhaps by then scientists will be willing to label their discovery the Higgs Bosun, and not Higgs-like.

Perhaps, by then, the anomaly with the second Higgs Bosun particle may be ironed out, as well.

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