Feeds

Skinny W particle offers thinspiration for US physicists

Mass matters, y'see

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

It seems even elementary particles resolve to lose weight* in the new year. A new calculation of the mass of the W particle (instrumental in radioactive decay) suggests that it is lighter than scientists had thought up until now.

This has implications for the particle physicists' particle: the elusive Higgs Boson. It too might be lighter than researchers have been expecting, which means it might be easier to find than everyone had thought.

The Higgs boson is a theoretical particle invoked in the 1960s by a physicist of the same name to explain why and how matter has mass. It is often referred to as "the God Particle", and has never actually been seen.

It is possible that it doesn't exist, but no existing particle accelerators are capable of the kinds of energies required to find out. This is why CERN is currently hard at work constructing the Large Hadron Collider - a huge particle accelerator that will be capable of "making" Higgs bosons. It is due to go online this year, when it will start generating truly terrifying quantities of data that will have to be mined for traces of the elusive deity-particular.

But if the W particle has gone all super skinny on us, then existing accelerators could be capable of finding the Higgs boson after all, specifically the Tevatron at Fermilab, the same institution responsible for refining the estimate of W's mass.

Wired.com quotes the journal Nature, explaining what the new estimate of W's mass means:

"This...brings the upper limit for the Higgs' mass down to 153 giga electronvolts from 166 GeV. Previous experiments have shown that the Higgs must be heavier than 114 GeV.

"A lighter Higgs suits the Tevatron, which is only capable of finding the particle if its mass is less than around 170 GeV. The closer a particle's mass is to this upper limit, the harder it would be to find.

"Anything heavier than 170 GeV would certainly have to wait for the LHC, which will smash protons together harder to probe higher energies." ®

*Please understand that this is a (poor) attempt at humour. No clarification of the difference between weight and mass is required. Thanks anyway.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
ANU boffins demo 'tractor beam' in water
The current state of the art, apparently
China to test recoverable moon orbiter
I'll have some rocks and a moon cheese pizza please, home delivery
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
Vulture 2 spaceplane autopilot brain surgery a total success
LOHAN slips into some sexy bespoke mission parameters
Another step forward for diamond-based quantum computers
Square cut or pear-shaped, these qubits don't lose their shape
LOHAN acquires aircraft arboreal avoidance algorithm acronyms
Is that an ARMADILLO in your PANTS or are you just pleased to see me?
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.