The Higgs Boson Discovery Just Got More Certain

Illustration for article titled The Higgs Boson Discovery Just Got More Certain

At the start of July, scientists announced that they'd discovered what they strongly believed to be the Higgs Boson, a particle that's believed to be the key to unifying the standard and quantum models of physics. Now, after a handful more experiments, they're even more certain that they've finally got it.


The experiments that were described on July 4th were enough for the scientists to prescribe a 5-sigma level of certainty to the finding: in other words, that there was a one-in-3.5 million chance that the finding was a fluke.

The new experiments however, which are described on pre-print server arXiv, boast a 5.9-sigma level of certainty. That means there's only a one-in-300 million chance that the Higgs does not exist. That's some jump.

But, it's still not quite enough. Particle physicists usually hold off until they reach a 6-sigma level to publish. Fingers crossed! [arXiv via BBC]



When will people realize that they have not verified the existence of the Higgs boson! They have verified the existence of a particle with a mass very close to the expected mass of the Higgs. What makes the Higgs boson important is its intrinsic relationship to the mass of a particle, and the implied Higgs field. Neither of those two properties will be verified with these experiments. Without those it is merely a boring particle. It's akin to knowing that a fleshlight weighs 2.5789lbs in a box. You weigh a bunch of boxes to look for it. Eventually you find one that is 2.58lbs. There is a good chance that your fleshlight is in there but wouldn't you want to open it up and verify before getting too excited?????