Today, a much-awaited live press conference from CERN announced a glimpse of the elusive Higgs boson. The two teams working on isolating the so-called God Particle have isolated the mass region to a narrow location about 15 GeV wide, somewhere between 116-130 GeV in the ATLAS sector’s experiments and between 115 and 127 GeV in the CMS experiment. This range aligns well with predictions from supersymmetry theory and many other models of physics which would require the mass of the Higgs boson to fall somewhere between 155 and 125 GeV.
However. The teams were both anxious to assure the public that the results are not indicative of a discovery. While “interesting and intriguing,” there needs to be more data and certainly some peer review before ascertaining whether or not the Higgs boson is in fact extant and if it exists in the range now determined by the dual experiments. So in short, the results show that there is a small area left in which the Higgs could exist, and inside that band of just a few GeV, there are interesting results that hint at but are not yet certainly the Higgs boson. When asked if CERN could identify the Higgs with current data sets, the short answer is “No.”
Neither experiment is near the required six sigma surety needed to claim a discovery. From the preliminary results, ATLAS reports a conservative 2.3 (with an optimistic 3.6) sigma and CMS sector’s sigma is in the 1.9 – 2.6 range. Will the Large Hadron Collider find the God particle? The director of CERN is optimistic, having ended the conference with “See you next year with a discovery!”
For more information about CERN’s work in isolating the Higgs boson, check out the ATLAS and CMS status reports available on the official website, where you can find a thorough background on the particle as well.