Opinion, arguments & analyses from the editors of Scientific American

What Happens If We Find the Higgs Particle-or If We Don't?


With instruments offering "tantalizing hints" in support of the Higgs boson, the elementary particle thought to endow matter with mass, we stand at a singular moment in time for physics. Will we get sufficient evidence to confirm the existence of the Higgs, thus helping to complete the decades-old Standard Model? Will science have to go back to the drawing board? Or something in between? On April 18, 2012, I participated in a panel at Columbia University to probe such mysteries, called "What If We Find the Higgs Particle and What If We Don't?"

My fellow panelists were Michael Tuts, professor of physics at Columbia and the U.S. ATLAS Operations Program Manager at the Large Hadron Collider, CERN Laboratory, Geneva; Brian Greene, professor of mathematics and physics at Columbia and reporter Dennis Overbye of the New York Times. Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia, introduced us, and Amber Miller, dean of science, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and professor of physics for Columbia, moderated. The talk was part of a series called the World Leaders Forum.

Here is the introduction.

And here is the panel discussion.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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