This morning, scientists at the CERN laboratories in Geneva, Switzerland, announced they have found the Higgs boson, the world’s most sought-after particle. “A Higgs boson with a mass of around 125 to 126 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) was seen separately by the twin CMS and ATLAS detectors at the Large Hadron Collider, each with a confidence level of 5 sigma, or standard deviations, the heads of the experiments announced today at CERN.” The level of 5 sigma is a rigorous statistical benchmark meaning that the evidence of the Higgs particle has just a 5-in-10 million chance of being a fluke.
What’s the Big Idea?
The Higgs boson is the last remaining particle predicted by the Standard Model, the set of equations which describe how the Universe functions on a subatomic level. Many see the discovery of the Higgs as a triumph of contemporary physics and a confirmation of our ability, as a species, to grasp the strange mechanics of the Universe. Still, the results from CERN are preliminary and whether the new particle exactly fits the Standard Model’s predictions remain unknown. Since the Model does not account for either gravity or dark matter, scientists will continue to gather data on the Higgs to determine the accuracy of the Standard Model.