Scientists who announced the possible discovery of the ‘God particle’ Higgs boson now say they may have actually found not one but two previously unknown particles.
The most recent release from the Atlas experiment at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) showed the scientists seem to have found one Higgs boson with one mass, and then another with a statistically significant slightly higher mass.
There is a version of Higgs boson with a mass of 123.5 gigaelectron volts (the unit particle physicists prefer using to measure mass) and a second Higgs with a mass of 126.6 GeV.
First proposed in 1964, the Higgs boson is the last missing piece of the Standard Model, a widely accepted theory that describes the basic building blocks of the universe.
According to that model of our world, the Higgs particle must exist to bestow mass on other fundamental particles.
Researchers at CERN in July announced that they believed their experiments had finally revealed the Higgs, but their findings may have been far from definite.
The Higgs they found appeared to show that the Higgs seemed to be decaying into two photons more often than they had expected — hinting at a new, as yet unimagined physics.
Scientific American also reported that the Atlas team has spent the past month trying to find out whether it had made a mistake in their analysis. They have so far found none, raising the possibility that there may indeed be two Higgs bosons.
The anomalous result could of course still have been caused be a statistical blip that is not repeated as further data is collected.