Higgs Boson – Last One

Just as the Higgs Boson has been described as the last piece of the Standard Model, this will be the last piece about the Higgs Boson. It would seem that the rumors were true, and in a press release this morning, CERN confirmed their findings,

We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV. The outstanding performance of the LHC and ATLAS and the huge efforts of many people have brought us to this exciting stage

That press release is a little heavy on some jargon, but it basically means that there is a 5-in-10 million chance that this is a fluke. The 5-sigma, or 5 standard deviations, is a rigorous standard used to determine statistical significance. There is a great post over at Understanding Uncertainty about what 5-sigma’s means, and how it can be interpreted differently depending on whether the observation is one- or two-sided.

Unfortunately, and almost hilariously, in the presentation of their results, the team at CERN decided to go with much maligned Comic Sans as their font, which brought about much mocking from the font/internet community.

So what is next for physics? From the press release,

The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle’s properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe.

There is plenty of work to be done to understand the new boson in great detail. Phil Plait beautifully describes the significance of the finding over at Bad Astronomy

The Universe has once again done something wonderful — let us peek behind the curtain and get a glimpse of its inner workings.

Phil Plait gave a speech to science fair students in April, which was transformed into a wonderful illustration by Zen Pencils that seems particularly fitting for today.

The future of physics just got really exciting.


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