If it wasn't the Higgs particle, what was it?

Monday, 10 November, 2014

An international research team has claimed that the Higgs boson particle, discovered in CERN’s particle accelerator in 2012, could be something else entirely.

Many calculations indicate that the particle discovered in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was the famous Higgs particle. But while physicists agree that the CERN experiments did find a new particle that had never been seen before, the research team says there is no conclusive evidence that this was the Higgs particle. Their claims have been published in the journal Physical Review D.

“The CERN data is generally taken as evidence that the particle is the Higgs particle,” said study co-author Mads Toudal Frandsen, from the University of Southern Denmark. “It is true that the Higgs particle can explain the data, but there can be other explanations; we would also get this data from other particles.”

While the researchers’ analysis does not debunk the possibility that CERN has discovered the Higgs particle, it is equally possible that it is a different kind of particle. According to Frandsen, “It may be a so-called techni-higgs particle. This particle is in some ways similar to the Higgs particle, hence half of the name.”

Although the techni-higgs particle and Higgs particle can be confused in experiments, they are two very different particles belonging to two very different theories of how the universe was created. The Higgs particle is the missing piece in the theory called the Standard Model, which describes three of the four forces of nature but does not explain what dark matter is.

“A techni-higgs particle is not an elementary particle,” said Frandsen, referring to a particle that cannot be divided into smaller components. “Instead, it consists of so-called techni-quarks, which we believe are elementary. Techni-quarks may bind together in various ways to form, for instance, techni-higgs particles, while other combinations may form dark matter. We therefore expect to find several different particles at the LHC, all built by techni-quarks.”

If techni-quarks exist, there must be a force to bind them together so that they can form particles. None of the four known forces of nature (gravity, the electromagnetic force, the weak nuclear force and the strong nuclear force) are any good at binding techni-quarks together. There must therefore be a yet undiscovered force of nature. This force is called the technicolor force.

What was found in CERN’s particle accelerator could thus be either the Higgs particle of the Standard Model or a light techni-higgs particle, composed of two techni-quarks. Frandsen believes that if CERN gets an even more powerful accelerator, it will, in principle, be able to observe techni-quarks directly - and thus determine if it discovered a Higgs or a techni-higgs particle.


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