This Wednesday marks an important date—perhaps the date—in the search for the Higgs boson, an elementary particle that could help complete our understanding of the Universe. At this year’s Intentional Conference of High Energy Physics, set to convene tomorrow, physicists will discuss the implications of new data gathered at the Large Hadron Collider and are expected to announce the discovery of a new particle. “We now have more than double the data we had last year,” CERN’s director for research and computing Sergio Bertolucci told the Guardian. He adds that additional data “should be enough to see whether the trends we were seeing in the 2011 data are still there, or whether they’ve gone away.”
What’s the Big Idea?
Last December, two separate experiments produced what physicists at CERN called “hints” of the Higgs boson, the last undiscovered particle in the Standard Model of particle physics. Both experiments suggested that the Higgs particle would be found in the same range of mass but with little relatively certainty of their results. “The results fell on either side of 3 sigma, corresponding to roughly 1 in 1000 odds that a signal might just be random noise. In the world of sports betting, that’s a dead certainty, but in the realm of high-energy physics, it’s far short of what’s needed to declare a definitive discovery.”
People with deep spiritual conviction—from religious fundamentalists to high Himalayan mystics—possess the greatest existential gift of all: certainty. But these days, it’s not a gift that we find it easy […]