The Higgs Boson Discovery Is Now Real Science

In July, scientists announced that they had discovered what they strongly suspected to be the Higgs Boson, a particle that is believed to be the key to unifying the standard and quantum models of physics. Further experiments in August made the finding more certain, and now the results have been peer-reviewed and published.

Published as two academic papers in Physics Letters B, the results don’t make for light reading, but they are important.

While nobody ever doubted the work of the CERN scientists, the results being vetted by peers and then published in an established journal act as a kind of rubber stamp. The results, as far as the scientific community are concerned, are accurate; the science is reasonable. The discovery, in other words, is valid.

As we’ve reported before, the scientists have to demonstrate a high level of certainty in their results for the work to be published. The initial results from July pinned a 5-sigma level of certainty to the finding: in other words, that there was a one in 3.5 million chance that the finding was a fluke. Now, the researchers are confident that there’s less than a one in 300 million chance that the Higgs does not exist.

Physics Letters B was where British physicist Peter Higgs first published a letter in 1964, titled “Broken symmetries, massless particles and gauge fields”, which initially sparked the hunt for the boson. Now, that chapter of physics is almost at a close. [Physics Letters B (1) (2)]