U.S. physicists close to historic particle finding
US-based physicists said Wednesday that their experiments confirm those from a major European atom-smasher’s that have narrowed the range where the elusive Higgs boson particle could be hiding.
The results come from the now-defunct Tevatron collider, which closed down in September after nearly a quarter century, though physicists continue to analyze its data in the hunt for the so-called “God particle.”
The Higgs boson is the missing link in the standard model of physics and is believed to be what gives objects mass, though scientists have never been able to pin it down and it exists only in theory.
“The end game is approaching in the hunt for the Higgs boson,” saidJim Siegrist, Department of Energy associate director of science for high energy physics.
“This is an important milestone for the Tevatron experiments, and demonstrates the continuing importance of independent measurements in the quest to understand the building blocks of nature.”
Physicists from the CDF and DZero collaborations at Fermi National Acceleratory Laboratory in Illinois said in a statement that their data “might be interpreted as coming from a Higgs boson with a mass in the region of 115 to 135 GeV (gigaelectronvolts).”
That result includes the slightly more narrow constraints announced in December 2011 by scientists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider — the world’s largest atom-smasher, located along the French-Swiss border.
The CERN (European Center for Nuclear Research) experiments, carried out by a consortium of 20 member nations, have shown a likely range for the Higgs boson between 115 to 127 GeV.
GeV is the standard measure for the mass of sub-atomic particles. One GeV is roughly equivalent to the mass of a proton.
However, none of the hints so far have been enough for physicists to announce that the particle has been “discovered,” or to claim there is enough evidence to say for certain that it exists.
Fermilab director Pier Oddone said he was “thrilled with the pace of progress in the hunt for the Higgs boson,” noting that scientists from around the world have combed through hundreds of trillions of proton-antiproton collisions.
“There is still much work ahead before the scientific community can say for sure whether the Higgs boson exists,” added Dmitri Denisov, DZero co-spokesman and physicist at Fermilab.
“Based on these exciting hints, we are working as quickly as possible to further improve our analysis methods and squeeze the last ounce out of Tevatron data.”