The prized Higgs particle, physicists assumed, would help steer them toward better theories, ones that fix the problems known to plague the Standard Model. Instead, it has thrown the field into a confusing situation.
“We’re sitting on a puzzle that is difficult to explain,” said particle physicist Maria Spiropulu of Caltech, who works on one of the LHC's main Higgs-finding experiments, CMS.
It may sound strange, but physicists were hoping, maybe even expecting, that the Higgs would not turn out to be like they predicted it would be. At the very least, scientists hoped the properties of the Higgs would be different enough from those predicted under the Standard Model that they could show researchers how to build new models. But the Higgs' mass proved stubbornly normal, almost exactly in the place the Standard Model said it would be.
To make matters worse, scientists had hoped to find evidence for other strange particles. These could have pointed in the direction of theories beyond the Standard Model, such as the current favorite supersymmetry, which posits the existence of a heavy doppelganger to all the known subatomic bits like electrons, quarks, and photons.