Scientists Say 'God Particle' May Be an Impostor

By Jesus Diaz on at

Last Wednesday everyone went crazy when CERN scientists announced proof of the existence of the Higgs boson, which theoretically gives us mass and holds the Universe together. Now, other physicists say that they may have found an impostor and not the popularly called God Particle.

After analysing the data published by researchers at CERN's Large Hadron Collider, scientists Ian Low, Joseph Lykken and Gabe Shaughnessy at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, claim that those observations may be explained by two other "impostor" particles, which may be masquerading as the fabled Higgs boson:

We show that current LHC data already strongly disfavour both the dilatonic and non-dilatonic singlet imposters. On the other hand, a generic Higgs doublet and a triplet imposter give equally good fits to the measured event rates of the newly observed scalar resonance

In their 20-page research paper — available through Cornell University's Arxiv (PDF) — Low and his colleagues also add that, while the data may be explained by these two impostors, the "Standard Model Higgs boson gives a slightly better overall fit."

If they are right, however, the 30-year £6-billion quest to find the holy grail of physics, may have not ended yet.


We have to wait

Remember that while CERN scientists claimed that they were 99.9999 per cent sure that the measurements are a result of the existence of the Higgs boson, they were cautious in their optimism. Joe Incandela, professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and head of the LHC's Compact Muon Solenoid experiments, didn't want to point at the Higgs boson just yet:

The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we're seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it's the heaviest boson ever found. The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks.

The reason for his controlled optimism is the elusive nature of these particles. Since we can only create them for a very limited time before they decay into other particles, it's very difficult to trace their signature. It's even more difficult when, looking at the the data so far collected by CERN, the signature can be attributed to other particles.

That's why Low and his colleagues conclude that we need to wait and get more information, since the data at this stage cannot completely demonstrate the existence of the God particle or even these impostors.

In other words: the mystery has not been solved just yet. [Arxiv via Technology Review]