YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=iRwh6FLEW3E
Previous: Why We Love Sugar
Next: The Sex Lives of Early Humans

Categories

Statistics

View count:211,843
Likes:3,257
Dislikes:21
Comments:440
Duration:03:20
Uploaded:2012-03-14
Last sync:2019-06-13 22:20
Hello! Yes, more Higgs news. You've probably heard me talk about the Higgs boson before, the only particle predicted by the standard model of physics that has not yet been observed. And also, why, you know, we might have to rethink the laws of physics if it turns out not to exist.

Well today, I'm talking to a physicist who's part of the hunt for the Higgs, and he explains why the 40 year search is closer than ever to success. But it's not over yet.

Now we talked in-depth about what the Higgs is in a different episode of SciShow, so if you wanna go watch that, uh, then I will explain it to you fully. But basically, the particle that would verify the existence of the Higgs field, which according to the standard model is what gives particles mass. So it's why some particles have mass and other particles don't.

Now, last week, America's largest particle accelerator, the Tevatron collider, which is not even operating anymore, at Fermilab, in Illinois, released data from experiments it conducted in 2011, which seem to confirm promising findings made by another team in Europe at CERN, that's also looking for the Higgs.

The mass of, uh, these elementary particles is measured in something called electron volts. And Tevatron scientists said that after their particle collisions they saw a bump of about 115 billion to about 135 billion electron volts, which they think could've been the Higgs winking into existence.

We recently talked with a Fermilab physicist, Rob Roser, who said that the bumps are consistent with, but not definitively, a standard model Higgs boson. Roser also said that these numbers are really similar to what scientists at Europe's Large Hadron Collider saw several months ago. They saw bumps between 124 and 126 billion electron volts.

So two colliders, two different continents, seeing similar things, but there's always a chance that background fluctuations during these collisions could be causing the bumps. And right now, the chance of that being the case is about 1 in 100.

Roser pointed out that to say with certainty that this particle does exist the odds would have to be about 10 times better. Because 99 out of 100 is very much not good enough for them, so. Wow.

ROSER: We would like to do is see whether or not we can sharpen our analyses further with better analysis techniques and a few other tricks within the statistical sample that we already own, to see whether we can make enough of a statement to say the word evidence. And for us evidence is, uh, three sigma, or about 1 in 1000.

HANK: Roser added that this is a bittersweet announcement for Fermilab because shortly after it ran the final Higgs boson experiments last September the Tevatron collider was shut down due to funding cuts. So now it's going to be up to physicists at the LHC to come up with the conclusive proof that everyone has been looking for.

ROSER: Just want to be first but, what, at some level, what, as physicists, what we want mostly is just the answer. So it would be nice if we could've provided the answer. Uh, we always knew it was the Little Engine That Could battling these guys and so, uh, we've been lucky to get this close, and we still hope to make a meaningful statement, uh, before they, uh, surpass us. But we will see.

HANK: The Large Hadron Collider will start up again this month and Roser said that there should be enough data by the end of 2012 for them to be able to make a definitive statement.

Of course, we'll keep you up to date on all of this. In the mean time, check out our previous episodes to learn more about the Higgs and if you have questions or comments, you can always reach us through Facebook or Twitter or, of course, in the comments below. Goodbye.