The God Particle proves the best theory in science

Higgs boson

The standard particle model seeks to explain the nature and characteristics of the fundamental particles that make up matter. These are generated in places like CERN's Large Hadron Collider, where protons or nuclei are accelerated at high speeds to collect as much information as possible from the collision debris. This is how the detection of the Higgs boson was confirmed more than a decade ago. It continues to test what we think we know about physics.

202201 006 598
ATLAS experiment at the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

Higgs boson decay

The Higgs boson is the fundamental particle responsible for the origin of mass in matter. Originally, its existence was predicted in 1964 by the physicist Peter Higgs, but it was not until 2012 that the detection of the misnamed God Particle. This is part of the field of the same name, a medium that permeates the entire space and is responsible for providing a resistance to the movement of particles.

When you want to study it, to know its properties and behavior, there is a huge challenge, since its half-life is incredibly low. After fractions of a second, it decays into other particles, which are measured and allow us to reconstruct the first moments after the collision.. This is why it is necessary to know in advance which wastes to look for.

A litmus test for theory

The standard model is the best and most accurate theory to know the universe, however, there are several alternatives with slight differences. The vast majority consider more particles than we are currently aware of and can be detected when measurements do not agree with predictions.

While the most common decays confirmed their discovery, physicists want to find the rarest events. Those that define the delicate interactions between the Higgs boson and the other fundamental particles that also arise in collisions.. Whose probabilities should almost perfectly meet the theoretical estimates.

CCJulAug23 NA atlascms
Candidate detections of Z boson to muon decays (red lines) in ATLAS (left) and CMS (right). Credits: CERN.

The ATLAS and CMS experiments, independently, have been searching for a particular scenario for several years. The decay of a Higgs boson into a photon and a Z bosonwhich would decay into two muons. Which was estimated to occur in 6.6 % of the cases. This also offered a clean detection, where the residues would stand out from the other particles.

Using data taken between 2015 and 2018 by the LHC's CMS and ATLAS experiments, the collaboration found the first evidence of a decline of a Higgs boson into a Z boson and a photon, with sufficient statistical weight to be relevant. The expected and measured values show good agreement, demonstrating once again the power of the standard model.

In the coming years, and with the improvements to the LHC, it is expected that these experiments will be repeated and that the Higgs boson interactions can be determined with better precision. Since discrepancies between theory and experiments may shed light on the existence of new physics that we do not yet know about.

Francisco Andrés Forero Daza