Why A Lightweight Higgs Particle is a Sensitive Creature — Part 1

In a post from January 27, 2012, concerning the possibility that the Higgs particle might have exotic decays (i.e. decays of a sort not expected if the Higgs is of the “ simplest [i.e. “Standard Model”] type), I described a lightweight Higgs particle as a sensitive creature.  We might think of it as the canary in the accelerator tunnel, easily affected by new phenomena that we might otherwise overlook at the Large Hadron Collider [LHC].  It has the potential to give us our first indication of the existence of new particles and/or forces .

But what makes it so delicate?

The reason that a lightweight Higgs particle is a sensitive creature is this:  it … decays …  slowly …

Slowly??!??  In what sense can one think of a particle that typically disappears in 0.000,000,000,000,000,000,001 seconds — less than the time it takes light to cross from one side of an atom to the other — as durable?!?

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