Why are particle physicists so keen to find the Higgs boson? © Getty Images

Why are particle physicists so keen to find the Higgs boson?

This elementary particle was confirmed by Large Hadron Collider experiments at CERN in 2012 - but what's the big deal?

Asked by: Belinda Harvey, Ashford

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Particle physicists are just eager to find out whether the Higgs boson actually exists or not. We now know where to look and, if it does exist, the Large Hadron Collider project at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, CERN, will be sure to produce it. Not finding the Higgs boson would mean that it doesn’t exist, and this would be just as exciting as finding it. We predicted this particle using our current best theory of the building blocks of the sub-atomic world. What we call the Standard Model of particle physics predicts that the Universe is made up of a set of elementary particles classified into different groups. The only missing ingredient in this picture is the Higgs boson, a particle that explains why all the other particles have the masses that they do. It would be the last piece in a remarkable jigsaw puzzle that began over one hundred years ago with the discovery of the very first elementary particle: the electron. But if the Higgs isn’t found, then this hints at new physics to be discovered. Physicists are contemplating alternative scenarios, such as hidden higher dimensions in space and mini black holes. Whatever we find, it’s going to be very exciting.


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