CERN scientists find signs of the missing “God particle”

December 13, 2011

(A graphic showing a collision at full power is pictured at the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experience control room of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin, near Geneva March 30, 2010. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)

International scientists said on Tuesday they had found signs of the Higgs boson, an elementary particle dubbed the “God particle” that is believed to have played a vital role in the creation of the universe after the Big Bang. Scientists at the CERN physics research centre near Geneva said, however, they had found no conclusive proof of the existence of the particle which, according to prevailing theories of physics, gives everything in the universe its mass.

“If the Higgs observation is confirmed…this really will be one of the discoveries of the century,” said Themis Bowcock, a professor of particle physics at Britain’s Liverpool University. “Physicists will have uncovered a keystone in the makeup of the Universe…whose influence we see and feel every day of our lives.”

Physicists think this subatomic speck of matter, if it is ever found, could explain the mysterious code at the origin of the physical world. To know this would be to “know the mind of God,” as Einstein wanted to do.  The physicist who launched the hunt for this elusive particle doesn’t like its nickname. “It embarrasses me,” Peter Higgs has said. “Although I am not a believer myself, it’s a misuse of terminology that might offend some people.”

The leaders of two experiments, ALTAS and CMS, revealed their findings to a packed seminar at CERN, where they have tried to find traces of the elusive boson by smashing particles together in the Large Hadron Collider at high speed. “Both experiments have the signals pointing in essentially the same direction,” said Oliver Buchmueller, senior physicist on CMS. “It seems that both Atlas and us have found the signals are at the same mass level. That is obviously very important.”

 

Fabiola Gianotti, the scientist in charge of the ATLAS experiment, said ATLAS had narrowed the search to a signal centered at around 126 GeV (Giga electron volts), which would be compatible with the expected strength of a Standard Model Higgs. “It is too early” for final conclusions, she said. “More studies and more data are needed. The next few months will be very exciting…I don’t know what the conclusions will be.”

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