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Nominations closing in
Have we found the God particle??
All eyes are on the physics world this week as two significant research groups detail how close they have come to discovering the existence of a tiny piece of the universe with enormous impact: the subatomic particle known as Higgs boson or the "God particle." Higgs is one of and perhaps the most important undiscovered building basic building blocks of all matter in the universe. Here's a quick look at what Higgs is and the equipment used to spot it.
What is Higgs boson? Part 1
What is Higgs boson? Part 2
Proton-proton collision in the CMS experiment producing four high-energy muons (red lines). The event shows characteristics expected from the decay of a Higgs boson but it is also consistent with background Standard Model physics processes.
A quick look at Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator at CERN. Part 1
A quick look at Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator at CERN. Part 2
Physicists at a U.S. Fermi National Accelerator Lab laboratory said on Monday they have "come tantalizingly close to proving the existence of the elusive subatomic Higgs boson."
According to Reuters, the Fermilab scientists found hints of the Higgs in the debris from trillions of collisions between beams of protons and anti-protons over 10 years at the lab's now-shuttered Tevatron accelerator. Unfortunately the evidence still fell short of the scientific threshold for proof of the discovery of the particle, they said, in that the same collision debris hinting at the existence of the Higgs could also come from other subatomic particles.
After more than 10 years of gathering and analyzing data produced by the U.S. Department of Energy's Tevatron collider, scientists from the CDF and DZero experiments have found their strongest indication to date for the long-sought Higgs particle. The Tevatron results indicate that the Higgs particle, if it exists, has a mass between 115 and 135 GeV/c2, or about 130 times the mass of the proton, Fermilab scientist said.
The Fermi announcements came in advance of what many are hoping will be an actual Higgs discovery announcement from scientists at CERN, the European particle accelerator near Geneva, which is home to the world's most powerful particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Part of the LHC's underground ring lit up in Geneva is shown here.
This latest round of excitement over Higgs comes from an unprecedented testing period. According to CERN, the 2012 collider run schedule was designed to deliver the maximum possible quantity of data to the experiments with more data delivered between April and June 2012 than in the whole 2011 run. The data were crunched by the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid, which has exceeded its design specifications to handle the unprecedented volume of data and computing.
Here we see a simulated data modeled for the CMS detector on the Large Hadron Collider. These graphics show two possible signatures that a Higgs boson may leave in the detector. As the Higgs will be very short-lived, it cannot be observed directly but rather its production is inferred from the products of its decay.
The LHC particle accelerator at the cross-section of an LHC superconducting dipole magnet.
Real CMS proton-proton collision events in which four high-energy electrons (green lines and red towers) are observed. The event shows characteristics expected from the decay of a Higgs boson but is also consistent with background Standard Model physics processes, CERN stated.
Computer screens during the preparation of the beam in the LHC control room.
A scientist is pictured in the CERN LHC computing grid center in Geneva. This center is one of the 140 data processing centers, located in 33 countries, taking part in the grid processing project. More than 15 million gigabytes of data produced from the hundreds of millions of subatomic collisions in the LHC should be collected every year.
The Linac 2 (Linear Accelerator 2) is pictured at the CERN in Meyrin near Geneva. The current accelerator, built in 1978 and which will be replaced in 2013 by Linac 4, separates hydrogen gas into electrons and protons and provides protons beams to the LHC that scientists at the CERN use to re-enact the conditions of the "big bang" that created the universe.
In April, the LHC shift crew declared "stable beams" as two 4 TeV proton beams were brought into collision at the LHC's four interaction points. The collision energy of 8 TeV was a new world record, and increases the machine's discovery potential considerably, CERN stated.
Last December, the teams behind the LHC's ATLAS and CMS detectors reported that they saw "tantalizing hints" of Higgs. Fabiola Gianotti, left, ATLAS experiment spokesperson, speaks next to Guido Tonelli, right, CMS experiment spokesperson, and Rolf Heuer, CERN Director General, during a news conference at the CERN. In a seminar the CMS and ATLAS experiments presented the status of their research for the Standard Model Higgs boson. Their results are based on the analysis of considerably more data than this summer, sufficient to make significant progress in the search of the elusive Higgs but not enough to make any conclusive statement on its existence or non-existence.