Discovery of the Higgs boson particle

After many years of searching, the Higgs boson particle was discovered in Jun 2012 using the Large Hadron Collider at CERN by measuring .

The Standard Model governs the basic building blocks of matter. The electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions, as well as classifying all the subatomic particles known. The current formulation was finalized in the mid-1970s upon experimental confirmation of the existence of quarks. Since then, discoveries of the top quark (1995), the tau neutrino (2000), and more recently the Higgs boson (2012), have given further credence to the Standard Model of particle physics.

Although the Standard Model is believed to be theoretically self-consistent and has demonstrated huge and continued successes in providing experimental predictions (such as the existence of the Higgs boson particle), it does leave some phenomena unexplained and falls short of being a complete theory of fundamental interactions. It does not incorporate the full theory of gravitation as described by general relativity, or account for the accelerating expansion of the universe (dark energy). The model does not contain any viable dark matter particle that possesses all of the required properties deduced from observational cosmology. It also does not incorporate neutrino oscillations (and their non-zero masses).

The existence of the Higgs boson particle is important to the Standard Model because it signals the existence of the Higgs field, an energy field present throughout the universe that provides other particles with mass.

The Higgs field emerged at the birth of the universe and acts as a source of energy. Physicists believe the Higgs field may be slowly changing as it tries to find an optimal balance of field strength and energy required to maintain that strength.

Standard physics calculations show the universe is in perfect balance with little margin between stable and unstable universe.

A quantum fluctuation, or change in energy, could trigger a process called “quantum tunneling.” This quantum fluctuation could happen somewhere out in the empty vacuum of space between galaxies and create an expanding bubble.

The universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay with a bubble of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light. The Higgs field inside that bubble would be stronger and have a lower energy level than its surroundings. Even if the Higgs field inside the bubble were slightly stronger than it is now, it could shrink atoms, disintegrate atomic nuclei, and leave hydrogen as the only element in the universe.

Using a calculation that involves the measured mass of the Higgs boson, researchers predict this bubble would contain an ultra-strong Higgs field that would expand at the speed of light through space-time. The expansion would be unstoppable and would wipe out everything in the existing universe.

In the Standard Model, every particle has a partner, or its own anti-particle. Adding to the Standard Model is the theory of “supersymmetry” that suggests every particle also has a “supersymmetric” partner particle. The existence of these additional particles in the Standard Model would help stabilize the universe as we now know it.

When the Large Hadron Collider at CERN is restarts in 2015, the energy of will be 13 TeV (or 6.5 TeV per beam) compared to 8 TeV (4 TeV per beam) in 2012. This higher energy will allow physicists to extend their searches for new particles such as “supersymmetric” partner particle.