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What If The Large Hadron Collider Was Beaten To The Physics Punch?

Illustration for article titled What If The Large Hadron Collider Was Beaten To The Physics Punch?

The mooted risks of the Large Hadron Collider are all worthwhile if it uncovers evidence of the Higgs boson, right...? But what if something else found that proof first, and without all the sturm-und-drang?


New Scientist reports on the possibility that NASA's FERMI satellite may be about to do that very thing, according to researchers for the University of California, Irvine. FERMI was created to detect gamma rays, and one of the expected sources of these rays is the annihilation of dark matter made up of "weakly interacting massive particles." Except, the researchers believe, the annihilation of these particles may also result in the creation of one photon and one giant particle... like the Higgs boson. According to the team's Tim Tait:

If there is a strong connection between the physics of dark matter and the physics of mass generation, those dark matter particles probably like to interact with the Higgs boson... FERMI has very good prospects of discovering the Higgs if this model is true.


Other scientists accept that this theory may not be entirely outside the realms of possibility. There's even a chance that the satellite has already discovered it, and we haven't realized it yet; FERMI has already captured data, but scientists haven't gone through it entirely. LHC scientists: The race is on.

Higgs in space: Orbiting telescope could beat the LHC [New Scientist]

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So I'm completely naive and uninformed on this subject, but could someone explain (in laymens terms) what the significance would be of discovering the Higgs Boson?

Obviously it's kind of a big deal, but I just don't know why.