The Import of the Higgs Boson; September 2012; Scientific American Magazine; by Robert Garisto and Abhishek Agarwal; 2 Page(s)
When physicists at CERN's Large Hadron Collider announced the discovery of a new particle on July 4, they did not call it “the Higgs boson.” This was not just the typical caution of scientists. It also signified that the announcement comes at a profound moment. We are at the end of a decades-long theoretical, experimental and technological odyssey, as well as at the beginning of a new era in physics.
The search for this particle grew out of a single phrase in the 1964 paper by physicist Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. At the time, what we now call the Standard Model of particle physics, which describes all known elementary particles, was only just starting to coalesce. The Standard Model makes hundreds of testable predictions and, in the decades since its inception, has been proved right every time. The Higgs boson was the last remaining piece of the puzzle, tying together all the known particles of matter (fermions) and the carriers of the forces acting on them (bosons). It paints a compelling picture of how the subatomic world works, but we do not yet know if this picture is just part of a larger canvas.