HIGGS BOSON: ‘Truly a momentous occasion’ says Grantham professor

Grantham-born scientist Dr Val Gibson.
Grantham-born scientist Dr Val Gibson.
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GRANTHAM scientist Dr Val Gibson has been involved with work on the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva for almost 20 years.

Today’s news of a potentially historic discovery of the Higgs Boson has been dubbed by scientist and TV personality Brian Cox “the biggest scientific discovery of my lifetime and without doubt one of the biggest scientific discoveries of all time” and “one of the great days in the history of science”.

So the Journal tracked Dr Gibson to Melbourne, Australia where she is attending an International Conference on High Energy Physics and asked her to help put Journal readers in the picture.

Journal: Why are today’s results so special?

Dr Gibson: Today was truly a momentous occasion. It is not often that we get to claim a “real discovery” and today we have enough data to do just that.

For many years High Energy Physicists have been trying to understand why the fundamental particles of nature have the properties they have. In particular, why they have mass.

Today’s discovery is the most important step in understanding this most fundamental of questions.

It is certain that something has been discovered and that something may be called the “Higgs Boson”.

Journal: How did you feel when today’s news was announced?

Dr Gibson: It is not often that a “real discovery” is made. I think the last time this happened in High Energy Physics was the discovery of the “charm” quark in 1976.

It’s a once in a lifetime experience and nothing can prepare you for such an occasion. The only thing you can do is enjoy it and celebrate!

Journal: What are the possible implications of today’s news?

Dr Gibson: The first task is to establish whether the discovery is truly the Higgs Boson. If it is, then we have to understand why it has the mass it has (126 times the mass of the proton) and then look to see if there are any more like it. This is really just the start of the journey.

Dr Gibson is a former KGGS pupil and is the UK Spokesperson for the LHCb experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in CERN, Geneva.