While we in America celebrate the signing of some yellowed document, physicists around the globe are engaging in a less nationalistic, but equally historic celebration: the elusive Higgs Boson, the “missing piece” in our current understanding of the subatomic world, has been confirmed to five standard deviations of significance. This discovery was made using the most expensive scientific apparatus in human history: the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland.
Despite the overwhelming statistical likelihood of the LHC’s discovery, ever-skeptical scientists still wonder whether the observed particle displays all of the characteristics of the Higgs as predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics. If it does, this discovery will definitively confirm over fifty years of theoretical development; if it doesn’t, it will alert physicists to the existence of particles beyond those described by the Standard Model, paving the way for a new era in fundamental physics (and more expensive experiments).
If you’re not into grilling in Central Park, it’s something to celebrate alone, in front of your computer.