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Physicists have a massive problem as Higgs boson refuses to misbehave


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New Scientist

Leah Crane

Aug. 7 2020

Physicists have spotted the Higgs boson performing a new trick, but one that brings us no closer to understanding the workings of fundamental particles.

The Higgs boson, discovered at the CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland, in 2012, is the particle that gives all other fundamental particles mass, according to the standard model of particle physics. However, despite the work of thousands of researchers around the world, nobody has been able to figure out exactly how it does that or why some particles are more massive than others.

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“It’s a problem in the sense that we know that the Higgs boson as-is doesn’t explain these things,” says CMS researcher Freya Blekman at the Free University of Brussels, Belgium. If the same Higgs interacts with both muons and heavier particles, that is another avenue to solving the question of mass closed.

The next step, Blekman says, is to take even more precise measurements of the Higgs interacting with a range of different particles. Many of these measurements need to be more precise than those the LHC can provide, which is part of the argument for building a more powerful “Higgs factory” collider, she says.

“We have removed scenarios, but we don’t have an explanation yet,” says Blekman. “But this is what particle physics is about – we have tens of thousands of predictions and we have to eliminate them.”

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