CERN hints at existence of Higgs boson

Simulated production of a Higgs event in ATLAS.
Simulated production of a Higgs event in ATLAS. This track is an example of simulated data modelled for the ATLAS detector on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN

Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider, an underground facility near Geneva, have been searching for evidence of the theoretical particle first postulated by the University’s Professor Peter Higgs. Scientists at CERN have said that tantalising hints have been seen by experiments there, but these are not yet strong enough to claim a discovery.

Unifying theory

Experiments at CERN have produced a considerable amount of data, analysis of which suggests the existence of the particle. However, researchers say more work is needed to claim the discovery of the Higgs.

Professor Higgs was working at the University in the 1960s when he developed his eponymous theory. The Higgs boson particle is thought to be a tiny yet crucial building block of physical matter that gives mass to all other particles. It has a key role in the Standard Model of physics, which defines our understanding of the physical world and has dominated the field of particle physics for 40 years.

Over the coming months, scientists will be further refining their analyses. However, a definitive statement on whether the Higgs exists will require more data, and is not likely until late in 2012.

Atlas experiment

A team of 15 scientists from the University, led by the School's Dr Phil Clark and Dr Victoria Martin, are working on the Atlas experiment at CERN, which is researching the basic forces that have shaped the Universe.

"It's an incredibly exciting time to be working on the Atlas experiment, to see the first glimpse of what might turn out to be the Higgs boson," said Victoria Martin. "The Atlas team in Edinburgh has made key contributions to the experiment and are looking forward to 2012, particularly to analysing the additional LHC data and finally settling the answer to the big question on our minds: does the Higgs boson actually exist?"

Peter Higgs and the Higgs Boson

We have created a website that explains more about Peter Higgs and his work.