Physics Questions People Ask Fermilab

This webpage was published before the discovery of the Higgs boson. To learn more about the discovery, visit Fermilab and the Higgs boson.

Higgs boson

Elisabeth, You asked:
Could you help me with the following question. Is there any evidense for the existence of the Higgs bosson or Higgs field? According to the New Scientist magazine Cerns LEP should have had enough energy to create the Higgs particles but it was not detected.

Thank you very much


Hi Elisabeth,

You asked a good question.

Yes, over the last ten years the evidence for the Higgs boson (or something like it) has been mounting. The many kinds of measurements we make in high energy experiments all fit nicely into a rather simple picture -- the so-called "Standard Model" of particle physics. In the past decade very precise measurements at CERN's LEP and elsewhere have put severe constraints on many plausible alternatives to the Higgs boson, driving us to the conclusion that the Higgs boson (or something like it) very likely exists.

Although we have good reason to suspect that the Higgs boson exists, we don't know exactly what the mass of the Higgs boson should be. When the New Scientist magazine said that CERN's LEP should have had enough energy to create the Higgs particles, they didn't tell the full story. We know that the mass of the Higgs boson should be less than 200 times the proton mass, with a mass of 100 times the proton mass favored by other indirect measurements. LEP allows us to say with confidence that the Higgs boson, if it exists, has a mass greater than 114 times the mass of the proton. It is very possible that the Higgs boson has mass between 114 times the proton mass and 200 times the proton mass, and in this case, it would not have been seen at LEP.

So the answer to your question is yes, the evidence for a Higgs boson (or something like it) is sufficiently compelling that thousands of high energy physicists will be searching for it over the next ten years. The goal is to find it and study it, since we believe it holds the key to understanding physics at even smaller distance scales.


Bruce Knuteson
University of Chicago

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