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In a writeup about the Higgs Boson a comment was made that a particle discovered in the Cern collider looked like he elusive Higgs particle. When it is said that the particle (LOOKS) like the elusive Higgs are they actually looking at the particle or are looking at the effects of the particle.

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The Higgs Boson has a life time of roughly $10^{-22}$ s. As such, it will decay before entering any of the detectors around the LHC accelerator. What we see is not the Higgs Boson, but the decay products of the Higgs Boson. These decay products lead to a so called resonance behavior in a given invariant mass. For example, in the invariant mass distribution of events with two photons, you can see the following bump around 125 GeV (the mass of the Higgs):

enter image description here

Since we don't see the Higgs Boson, but only its decay products, this could also happen due to pure chance. The chances for this, however, have been 1 in 10 million at the time discovery, and are even much more strict now.

To answer your question: We are not looking at the particle itself, we only look at its decay products.

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I'm just going to add to what @pfnuesel said.

In addition to all the issues with the detection of the Higgs, there is also a theory problem. When physicists say "the Higgs" they are referring to a specific theoretical model. Specifically, this model is the simplest with only one Higgs boson. Other models exist with more complex behaviors and some of them include multiple Higgs-like bosons. I don't know if it is the case with later experiments, but the original detention couldn't distinguish between those models.

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  • $\begingroup$ The answers sound like the test for Higgs was a once off event. Is this the case? $\endgroup$ – 0tyranny 0poverty Jul 24 '17 at 1:25
  • $\begingroup$ No, the search for the Higgs was an ongoing effort even before the LHC was built. At the LHC, it took a lot of data to see the effects (see the other answer for a graph, note the vertical axis counts how many events were seen; see the comments on the question for more details as well). But now that it's been seen, further data is being collected to refine the measurements and other experiments are being built that can see other properties, possibly distinguishing between the different models I was alluding to. $\endgroup$ – Johnathan Gross Jul 24 '17 at 1:59

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