Feeds

Skinny W particle offers thinspiration for US physicists

Mass matters, y'see

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

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.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
America's super-secret X-37B plane returns to Earth after nearly TWO YEARS aloft
674 days in space for US Air Force's mystery orbital vehicle
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.