The Higgs is the boson to spot at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)—the world’s biggest particle accelerator and home to the CMS experiment and its Higgs-hunting sister ATLAS. The boson is the particle associated with the Higgs mechanism, which researchers believes endows other particles with mass.
Unfortunately (and unsurprisingly) CMS saw no sign of the Higgs. In data taken last year, the collaboration searched for cases where the Higgs decayed into two W-bosons and saw nothing. Time to panic? Not exactly. First of all, the CMS experiment could only exclude the Higgs in a relatively narrow mass range between 144-207 giga-electron volts. Second, the exclusion only applies to special scenarios where there are two extra kinds of quarks that nobody has ever seen before. CMS has a nice explanation fo the results here.
That doesn’t make the work any less impressive. The barrage of new results on black holes, supersmmetry theory, and Higgs all coming out of the LHC in the past few months really shows how quickly the collider is coming up to speed. Just today, it made its first 7 TeV collisions of the year, and within a week or two it should be humming along full-tilt.
Once it does, it will begin closing in on the Higgs very quickly. The number of collisions in the accelerator will be dramatically higher than most of last year, so CMS and ATLAS will gather data far faster than they did in the last run. Hopefully the first few Higgs events will appear soon, though it may be a few years more before physicists declare it to be “discovered”.