Earlier this month, research teams from the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) gathered to present the newest data from the Large Hadron Collider. Before a rapt audience of viewers from around the globe, they made the historic announcement that a particle consistent with the Higgs Boson had been discovered. The Higgs Boson (part of the greater Higgs field) is the mechanism that endows fundamental particles with mass, a key element to our understanding of the Universe.
Despite the celebration, some wondered if perhaps this was the end of an era. The Economist interviewed theoretical physicist and WSF co-founder Brian Greene to ask, “What’s next for the LHC?”
Finding what you expect and what your theories have predicted is exciting. But finding something completely unexpected, something that forces you to rethink the foundations of physics would be more exciting still. I am thrilled that we have confirmed ideas that have been around for more than forty years, but I still hope that something extraordinarily surprising, extraordinarily unexpected, comes roaring out of the LHC in the next few months, or the next few years. That would be the best of both worlds.
Greene is optimistic that the collider will continue to tease out new insights into the workings of the Universe, such as supersymmetry, dark matter, or even the multiverse.
For more information about the Higgs boson, check out our resource collection, Hunting the Higgs. There, you can watch the announcement itself, as well as Brian Greene’s talk at the Aspen Ideas Festival where he explains what the Higgs means for physics, and why you should be paying attention.