New measurement brings Higgs boson closer

March 2, 2012 at 4:41 PM
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BATAVIA, Ill., March 2 (UPI) -- Scientists at a U.S. particle physics lab say they've made the world's most precise measurement of one of nature's elementary particles.

The world's best measurement of the mass of the so-called W boson was made by scientists working at the U.S. Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., a Fermilab release reported Friday.

The new measurement is an important step to discovering the mass of the theorized Higgs boson, the last undiscovered component of the Standard Model of physics thought to give all other particles their masses.

Scientists searching for the so-far elusive Higgs particle employ two techniques: attempts at direct production of Higgs particles or precision measurements of other particles and forces that could be influenced by the existence of Higgs particles.

The new measurement of the W boson mass falls into the precision category, and comes from analysis of data from Fermilab's Tevatron particle accelerator.

"This measurement illustrates the great contributions that the Tevatron has made and continues to make with further analysis of its accumulated data," Fermilab Director Pier Oddone said. "The precision of the measurement is unprecedented and allows rigorous tests of our underlying theory of how the universe works."

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