And you thought you already read this a month ago: Swiss physics lab CERN yesterday announced it had found the elusive, all-important subatomic particle called the Higgs Boson.
Well, chances are you did read that a month ago. We wrote about it here on SmartPlanet at the time, as did much of the world’s media.
But we also noted that CERN wasn’t completely certain of its results.
Well, now CERN’s really really sure. Really. It’s not kidding.
In a press release yesterday, CERN noted that two of its teams have now submitted papers to a publication called Physics Letters B. “The teams report even stronger evidence for the presence of a new Higgs-like particle than announced on 4 July,” the release states.
Exactly how strong is the evidence?
One of the two teams now thinks that the chance of error is only one-in-550 million. That corresponds to what scientists rank as a “5.9 sigma.” In sigma speak, the higher the number, the lower the chance of a mistake.
The other team is reporting a 5 sigma, the same level both teams reported on the 4th of July. That number corresponds to a “discovery.” For comparison, a 3 sigma would indicate evidence, and a 1 sigma would be fairly random.
The Higgs Boson is named for the 83-year Edinburgh professor Peter Higgs, who postulated its existence nearly 50 years ago. It is believed to be the particle that gives mass to the rest of matter. For that reason some people refer to it as the God particle. Renowned physicist Michio Kaku recently explained in the Wall Street Journal that the Higgs would have sparked the Big Bang formation of the universe.
I’ll let CERN and other scientific labs carry on in the search for universal certainties of Earth, the cosmos, and beyond.
Meanwhile, I give a 6-sigma chance that it will rain in Britain tomorrow.
Photos: Top form CERN’s ATLAS team. Prof Higgs from CERN.
Hankering for Higgs, on SmartPlanet:
- CERN scientists find new subatomic particle; could be Higgs
- The Higgs Prize: When ‘close’ earns a cigar
- The elusive Higgs surfaces! Prof. Higgs that is. ‘God particle’ physicist in rare interview
- CERN: We’ll find that Higgs boson even if it takes 4 trillion electrovolts
- Particle of doubt: The Higgs boson and scientific uncertainty