Why the Higgs is important to science:
Excellent question. The standard model was developed as a theory to explain matter and its interactions at the most fundamental levels. It has been incredibly fruitful in it's predictions and discoveries over the past four decades to become one of the most successful scientific theories in the history of science. Except for that damn Higgs Boson which has eluded detection for forty years. As an analogy, the French Academy of Science use to offer a prize for about 100 years to anyone who could disprove Newton's Universal Law of Gravity. It wasn't until Newton's Laws successfully predicted the appearance of Halley's Comet that the French Academy became convinced of Newton's validity. In many ways the discovery of the Higgs is a similar culminating event. Several previous experiments were designed to look for the Higgs. Although none had been able to detect it, they could not prove the null hypothesis either. The LHC was designed to help settle the question with complete certainty. Does the Higgs exist? Yes or No. It's discovery doesn't tell us anything new (yet) but without its detection the Standard Model would have to be discarded. So it is indeed a time to congratulate and celebrate the accomplishment yet be somewhat disappointed that nature did not present a new revolutionary puzzle by preventing its detection. However...don't worry, its not the end. The Standard Model still does not explain gravity, dark matter, or dark energy. There are still a vast number of puzzles left and chances to discard the theory in favor of something better.

And no...there are no immediate technological applications. But there weren't any at the time of the discovery of the electron either and now we have computers!!!


From our physicist friends:

"As we look forward to Tuesday’s upcoming discussion at CERN of the state of the investigation into the Higgs, it is interesting to read a theorist’s view of the matter. Joe Lykken is not just any theorist, but one of a handful who are part of the CMS collaboration. This interview sheds light not only on Higgs and the upcoming announcement, but also on the nature of science. Consider reading it before Tuesday.
Also, CMS member and blogger Tommaso Dorigo offers this glossary of terms to prepare for Tuesday’s announcement. The glossary is pretty technical, appropriate for someone already fairly familiar with the material in the CMS e-Lab. See this Scottish news report (with 7:24 minute video) for a more basic introduction to the Higgs.
Then tune in, if you can–from 8:00 to 10:00 AM Eastern Standard Time on Tuesday, December 13–to watch the action live. You can also follow the action on twitter: search the hashtag #Higgsupdate."

In the news:
NYT - http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/12/science/physicists-anxiously-await-news-of-the-god-particle.html
BBC - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16116230

The message from Rolf Heuer, Director of CERN

Dear colleagues,
I would like to invite you to a seminar in the main auditorium on 13 December at 14:00, at which the ATLAS and CMS experiments will present the status of their searches for the Standard Model Higgs boson. These results will be based on the analysis of considerably more data than those presented at the Summer conferences, sufficient to make significant progress in the search for the Higgs boson, but not enough to make any conclusive statement on the existence or non-existence of the Higgs. The seminar will also be webcast.
Rolf Heuer