After commencing 2000 operations in fine style, CERN’s flagship machine, the LEP electron-positron collider, has been regularly delivering experiments with beams of 103 GeV or more. The machine has been running in “Higgs discovery mode” – the objective being to uncover at last the mysterious mechanism that breaks electroweak symmetry and provides particles with mass.
For the interconsistency of all results amassed so far anywhere, LEP is operating at the most likely place for the Higgs particle to turn up. This is not new, and a lot of potential Higgs territory has already been excluded.
What makes the Higgs hunt so dramatic is that LEP soon has to be decommissioned and dismantled to allow work to begin on CERN’s LHC collider, to be constructed in the same 27 km tunnel. Under such pressure and on such fertile physics ground, tantalizing hints of Higgs effects around 114 GeV are being seen. LEP runs until 2 November.