If gossip on various physics blogs pans out, the biggest moment for physics in nearly two decades is just days away. The possible announcement on July 4 of the long-sought Higgs boson would put the last critical piece of the Standard Model of Physics in place, a crowning achievement built on a half-century of work by thousands of scientists. A moment worthy of fireworks.But there’s a problem: The Higgs boson is starting to look just a little too ordinary.
As physicists at Europe’s Large Hadron Collider prepare to present their latest update in the hunt for the Higgs boson — the strange particle that exists everywhere in space and interacts with all other elementary particles, giving them their mass — other physicists are preparing for disappointment.
That’s because scientists have been secretly hoping all along that, when they finally found the Higgs, it would be an interesting particle with unexpected behaviors — even somewhat unruly. A perfectly well-behaved Higgs leaves less room for new, exciting physics — the kind that theorists have been wishing would show up at the LHC.
The current situation has some physicists starting to worry and, if coming years fail to turn up interesting results, the field could be headed for a crisis.
Image: The giant detector for the CMS experiment, one of the main Higgs-searching experiments at the LHC.