Is the ‘God particle’ singular or plural?
Finding the Higgs boson is the primary aim of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment in Geneva, but new results from a rival study taking place in the USA suggest there may be five versions of the elusive subatomic particle, which has never been detected despite five decades of research.
Leon Lederman, the Nobel laureate, dubbed the theoretical boson ‘the God particle’ because its discovery could unify understanding of the content of the universe and help humans ‘know the mind of God’.
It is crucial to the accepted Standard Model of the cosmos which explains how subatomic particles are bound together by three of the four fundamental forces of nature – weak nuclear force, strong nuclear force and electromagnetism. The Higgs boson is thought to mediate the force through which all the other particles acquire mass. But scientists overseeing the DZero experiment at the Tevatron particle accelerator in Illinois said the suggestion that five different particles could be responsible for this transaction may point to new laws of physics beyond the Standard Model.
Researchers at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside Chicago observed that collisions of protons and anti-protons produced pairs of matter particles one per cent more often than they yielded anti-matter particles. This ‘asymmetry’ of matter and anti-matter is beyond what could be explained by the Standard Model and could be accounted for by the existence of five Higgs bosons with similar masses but different electric charges’, the researchers said. Three would have a neutral charge and one each would have a negative and positive electric charge. This is known as the two-Higgs doublet model. Dr. Adam Martin said, ‘In models with an extra Higgs doublet, it’s easy to have large new physics effects like this DZero result.
‘What’s difficult is to have those large effects without damaging anything else that we have already measured.
The Standard Model fits just about every test we’ve thrown at it. To fit in a new effect in one particular place is not easy’.
Evidence for the Higgs boson in one or many forms could be uncovered by the LHC, the world’s most powerful “atom smasher’ which is buried 100 metres under the French-Swiss border.