Editorial: Fermilab work adds to scientific advances

Kane County

In searching for their needle, the haystack got a tad smaller.

Physicists announced a few weeks ago they’ve narrowed the field where they expect to discover the Higgs boson. Studying data from experiments conducted at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory near Batavia, they confirmed results under review at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland.

The Higgs boson is a subatomic particle that has yet to be identified. It’s discovery would answer some fundamental questions about the Standard Model of particle physics, and scientists have been seeking it for several decades.

Research conducted at Fermilab over the years has been crucial in isolating the area where the Higgs boson is believed to exist. Even though Fermilab’s renowned particle accelerator, the Tevatron, was shut down last year, experiments continue to be carried out at the facility.

Many people may begin rolling their eyes when talk of particle physics begins, and we can’t necessarily blame them. But this research pushes the boundaries of human exploration of our universe and the laws governing it.

Having a more refined understanding of physics could well lead to breakthroughs in other scientific and technological endeavors. Each achievement is built on steps previously taken, and there’s no telling what doors of knowledge this discovery would open.

However, funding for the vital work done at Fermilab remains a question mark. U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-14th District, of Winfield has expressed concern over the government’s commitment to maintain the level of revenue necessary to carry out these experiments.

As Fermilab continues to prove its extraordinary value, ongoing funding is crucial. Scientific research must remain a top priority for a nation that has led the world in this field.