Yesterday, scientists working at Europe’s Large Hadron Collider announced they have found hints of the elusive Higgs boson, the elementary particle which is thought to endow matter with mass. The Higgs particle itself has a mass and while previous experiments narrowed down the range of its value to between 115 and 140 giga–electron volts (GeV), the LHC now says its value can be no greater than 127 GeV. LHC scientists expect to have an answer one way or the other by the end of 2012, perhaps sooner.
What’s the Big Idea?
A mass of 125 GeV would support the extension of the Standard Model known as supersymmetry which states that every known particle has a heavier (and yet-undiscovered) partner. Finding evidence of the Higgs particle would answer the long-standing question of how matter gets its mass. It would also reveal the nature of the connection between the weak nuclear force and the electromagnetic force. These fundamental forces were initially united when the universe began but now they function separately.