W and double W

Diagram showing a Higgs boson decaying to a W+ and a W-, which then decay to leptons. This might be happening.

The W boson carries the weak nuclear force. At the Large Hadron Collider pairs of them may be showing the first signs of the Higgs boson. But they are a decidedly mixed blessing.

The current data from the LHC show an effect which might, or might not, be the first indication of the presence of a Higgs boson. Most of this effect is due to the number of pairs of W bosons which are being produced in proton-proton collisions.

The W boson (along with the Z boson) is responsible for carrying the weak nuclear force, just as the photon carries the electromagnetic force. It is intimately connected with the Higgs boson. In the standard theory, the Higgs gives mass to the W and Z, and so breaks a symmetry which otherwise would mean the weak force was pretty much as strong as the electromagnetic one.

If the Higgs boson has enough mass (that is, enough energy if it isn’t moving, since E = mc2), it will decay very quickly into a pair of W bosons. So if the Higgs is there, extra pairs of W bosons are one way we might first see it.

Read the rest of this interesting article by Jon Butterworth here W and double W

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