GENEVA (The Blaze/AP) — Scientists at the world’s largest atom smasher on Wednesday had an announcement. The long-sought-after “God Particle” — more scientifically known as the Higgs boson — has been found*.
*By found, the scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) mean their data has shown a new particle that is “consistent” with the what they would expect of the Higgs boson. So why not come right out and say they’ve officially found the particle they believe will help explain what gives all matter in the universe size and shape?
CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci said in a statement that it is “hard not to get excited by these results” but, as the CMS experiment spokesperson puts it, the “implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks.”
Watch this Reuters report where scientists call this a “very, very preliminary result”:
CERN Director Rolf Heuer told scientists who received the announcement with applause that what researchers have found is a missing “cornerstone.”
He said the newly discovered subatomic particle is a boson, but he stopped just shy of claiming outright that it is the Higgs boson itself – an extremely fine distinction.
“As a layman, I think we did it,” he told the elated crowd. “We have a discovery. We have observed a new particle that is consistent with a Higgs boson.”
Check out this slideshow showing pictures from the announcement event:
The Higgs boson, which until now has been a theoretical particle, is seen as the key to our understanding of why matter has mass, which combines with gravity to give an object weight. The idea is much like gravity and Isaac Newton’s discovery of it: Gravity was there all the time before Newton explained it. But now scientists know what a boson is and can put that knowledge to further use.
CERN’s atom smasher, the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border, has been creating high-energy collisions of protons to investigate dark matter, antimatter and the creation of the universe, which many theorize occurred in a massive explosion known as the Big Bang.
Two independent teams at CERN said Wednesday they have both “observed” a new subatomic particle – a boson. Heuer called it “most probably a Higgs boson, but we have to find out what kind of Higgs boson it is. “
Asked whether the find is a discovery, Heuer answered, “As a layman, I think we have it. But as a scientist, I have to say, `”What do we have?’ “
The leaders of the two teams – Joe Incandela, head of CMS with 2,100 scientists, and Fabiola Gianotti, head of ATLAS with 3,000 scientists – each presented in complicated scientific terms what was essentially extremely strong evidence of a new particle.
Incandela said it was too soon to say definitively whether it is the “standard model” Higgs that Scottish physicist Peter Higgs and others predicted in the 1960s. That was part of a standard model theory of physics involving an energy field where particles interact with a key particle, the Higgs boson. Asked his opinion, Higgs said he also could not yet say.
The stunning work elicited standing ovations and frequent applause at a packed auditorium in CERN as Gianotti and Incandela each took their turn.
Incandela called it “a Higgs-like particle” and said “we know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found.”
“Thanks, nature!” Gianotti said to laughs, giving thanks for the discovery.
The phrase “God particle” was coined by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman but is used by laymen, not physicists, as an easier way of explaining how the subatomic universe works and got started.