Scientists from Europe's CERN research center presented evidence on July 4, , for a particle that is likely the Higgs boson, the last remaining elementary. Stephen Hawking bet Gordon Kane $ that physicists would not discover the Higgs boson. After losing that bet when physicists detected the. After decades of careful experiment, physicists say they have found the "strongest indication to date" to prove the existence of the Higgs boson.
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After losing that bet when physicists detected the particle in , Hawking lamented the discovery, saying it made physics less interesting. Now, in the preface to a new collection of essays and lectures called "Starmus," the famous theoretical physicist is warning that the particle could one day be responsible for the destruction of the known universe.
Hawking is not the only scientist who thinks so. The theory of a Higgs boson doomsday , where a quantum fluctuation creates a vacuum "bubble" that expands through space and wipes out the universe, has existed for a while. However, scientists don't think it could happen anytime soon. And you won't know because it's going at the speed of light so there's not going to be any warning.
Its discovery lends strong support to the Standard Model of particle physics, or the known rules of particle physics that scientists believe govern the basic building blocks of matter. The Higgs boson particle is so important to the Standard Model because it signals the existence of the Higgs field, an invisible energy field present throughout the universe that imbues other particles with mass.
Since its discovery two years ago, the particle has been making waves in the physics community. Now that scientists measured the particle's mass last year, they can make many other calculations, including one that seems to spell out the end of the universe.
Universe doomsday The Higgs boson is about billion electron volts, or about the times the mass of a proton. This turns out to be the precise mass needed to keep the universe on the brink of instability , but physicists say the delicate state will eventually collapse and the universe will become unstable.
That conclusion involves the Higgs field. The Higgs field emerged at the birth of the universe and has acted as its own source of energy since then, Lykken said. Physicists believe the Higgs field may be slowly changing as it tries to find an optimal balance of field strength and energy required to maintain that strength. Right now the Higgs field is in a minimum potential energy state — like a valley in a field of hills and valleys. The huge amount of energy required to change into another state is like chugging up a hill.
Symmetry breaking can lead to surprising and unexpected results. In physicist Philip Anderson — an expert in superconductivity — wrote a paper that considered symmetry breaking in particle physics, and suggested that perhaps symmetry breaking might be the missing piece needed to solve the problems of gauge invariance in particle physics. If electroweak symmetry was somehow being broken, it might explain why electromagnetism's boson is massless, yet the weak force bosons have mass, and solve the problems.
Shortly afterwards, in , this was shown to be theoretically possible, at least for some limited cases. Higgs mechanism Following the and papers, three groups of researchers independently published the PRL symmetry breaking papers with similar conclusions: The field required for this to happen which was purely hypothetical at the time became known as the Higgs field after Peter Higgs , one of the researchers and the mechanism by which it led to symmetry breaking, known as the Higgs mechanism.
A key feature of the necessary field is that it would take less energy for the field to have a non-zero value than a zero value, unlike all other known fields, therefore, the Higgs field has a non-zero value or vacuum expectation everywhere.
It was the first proposal capable of showing how the weak force gauge bosons could have mass despite their governing symmetry, within a gauge invariant theory. Although these ideas did not gain much initial support or attention, by they had been developed into a comprehensive theory and proved capable of giving "sensible" results that accurately described particles known at the time, and which, with exceptional accuracy, predicted several other particles discovered during the following years.
There was not yet any direct evidence that the Higgs field existed, but even without proof of the field, the accuracy of its predictions led scientists to believe the theory might be true. By the s the question of whether or not the Higgs field existed, and therefore whether or not the entire Standard Model was correct, had come to be regarded as one of the most important unanswered questions in particle physics.
Higgs field[ edit ] According to the Standard Model, a field of the necessary kind the Higgs field exists throughout space and breaks certain symmetry laws of the electroweak interaction. When the weak force bosons acquire mass, this affects their range, which becomes very small. For many decades, scientists had no way to determine whether or not the Higgs field existed, because the technology needed for its detection did not exist at that time.
If the Higgs field did exist, then it would be unlike any other known fundamental field, but it also was possible that these key ideas, or even the entire Standard Model, were somehow incorrect. Unlike other known fields such as the electromagnetic field , the Higgs field is scalar and has a non-zero constant value in vacuum.
The existence of the Higgs field became the last unverified part of the Standard Model of particle physics, and for several decades, was considered "the central problem in particle physics". It also resolves several other long-standing puzzles, such as the reason for the extremely short range of the weak force.
Although the Higgs field is non-zero everywhere and its effects are ubiquitous, proving its existence was far from easy. In principle, it can be proved to exist by detecting its excitations , which manifest as Higgs particles the Higgs boson , but these are extremely difficult to produce and detect. The importance of this fundamental question led to a year search , and the construction of one of the world's most expensive and complex experimental facilities to date, CERN 's Large Hadron Collider ,  in an attempt to create Higgs bosons and other particles for observation and study.
This also means it is the first elementary scalar particle discovered in nature. More studies are needed to verify with higher precision that the discovered particle has all of the properties predicted, or whether, as described by some theories, multiple Higgs bosons exist.
It was therefore several decades before the first evidence of the Higgs boson was found. Particle colliders , detectors, and computers capable of looking for Higgs bosons took more than 30 years c.
By March , the existence of the Higgs boson was confirmed, and therefore, the concept of some type of Higgs field throughout space is strongly supported.
However, analogies based on simple resistance to motion are inaccurate, as the Higgs field does not work by resisting motion. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.
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January Learn how and when to remove this template message Evidence of the Higgs field and its properties has been extremely significant for many reasons. The importance of the Higgs boson is largely that it is able to be examined using existing knowledge and experimental technology, as a way to confirm and study the entire Higgs field theory.
Particle physics[ edit ] Validation of the Standard Model[ edit ] The Higgs boson validates the Standard Model through the mechanism of mass generation.
As more precise measurements of its properties are made, more advanced extensions may be suggested or excluded. As experimental means to measure the field's behaviours and interactions are developed, this fundamental field may be better understood.