Scientists say they HAVE found the ‘God particle’ – but admit they still aren’t sure what type of Higgs boson it is
- Finding comes after three years of data from the CERN supercollider
- Researchers previously stopped short of claiming the boson, believed to give matter to mass, had been definitely discovered
- Team still unsure what type of Higgs boson they have discovered
By Mark Prigg
PUBLISHED: 06:35 EST, 14 March 2013 | UPDATED: 07:10 EST, 14 March 2013
Physicists say they are now confident they have discovered a long-sought subatomic particle known as a Higgs boson.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, says a look at all the data from 2012 shows that what they found last year was a version of what is popularly referred to as the ‘God particle’.
CERN physicist Joe Incandela said today that ‘it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is.’
The long-theorized subatomic particle would explain why matter has mass.
It is considered a missing cornerstone of physics.
Last July scientists with the world’s largest atom-smasher announced finding a particle they described as Higgs-like.
Earlier this week researchers ruled out the finding being a ‘super higgs’ that some cosmologists had hoped might open up more exotic secrets of the universe.
‘It does look like the SM (Standard Model) Higgs boson,’ said physicist Brian Petersen of Atlas, one of two research teams working in parallel on the Higgs project at CERN in Switzerland.
His assertion, on a slide presentation to a conference at CERN and posted on the Internet, was echoed by the other group.
‘So far, it is looking like an SM Higgs boson,’ said slides from Colin Bernet of CMS.
The two groups work separately and without comparing findings to ensure their conclusions are reached independently.
It has been assumed since the triumphant announcement last June that a new particle spotted at CERNS’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) was the Higgs, named after British theoretical physicist Peter Higgs, that, theories say, gave mass to matter after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.
A confirmed discovery of the Higgs boson, which could happen this year, would likely win a Nobel prize.
Meeting at CERN, near Geneva, the scientists said on Wednesday that the particle looked very much like it fit into the 30-year-old Standard Model of the makeup of the universe.
THE HISTORY OF THE HIGGS BOSON
The existence of the Higgs boson was put forward in the 1960s to explain why the tiny particles that make up atoms have mass.
Theory has it that as the universe cooled after the Big Bang, an invisible force known as the Higgs field formed.
This field permeates the cosmos and is made up of countless numbers of tiny particles – or Higgs bosons.
As other particles pass through it, they pick up mass.
Any benefits in the wider world from the discovery of the Higgs boson will be long term, but they could be in fields as diverse as medicine, computing and manufacturing.
Experts compare the search for the Higgs boson to the discovery of the electron.
The idea of the electron – a subatomic particle – was first floated in 1838, but its presence was not confirmed for another 60 years.
A century on, the electron’s existence underpins modern science.
Our understanding of it is critical to the development of technology from television and CDs to radiotherapy for cancer patient
If confirmed, it would mean LHC scientists will have to wait until late in this decade for any sign of ‘new worlds of physics’.
Until the last few days there had been some faint signs that the discovery might prove to be something more than the particle that would fill the last gap in the Standard Model, a comprehensive explanation of the basic composition of the universe.
Rumours flew of a ‘super-Higgs’ that might – as recently predicted by U.S. physicist Sean Carroll in a book on the particle – ‘be the link between our world and most of the matter in the universe.’
Many scientists and cosmologists will be disappointed that the LHC’s preliminary 3-year run from March 2010 to last month has not produced evidence of the two grails of ‘new physics’ – dark matter and supersymmetry.
Dark matter is the mysterious substance that makes up some 25 percent of the stuff of the universe, against the tiny 4 percent – galaxies, stars and planets – which is visible.
The remainder is a still unexplained ‘dark energy.’
The theory of supersymmetry predicts that all elementary particles have heavier counterparts, also yet to be seen.
It links in with more exotica like string theory, extra dimensions, and even parallel universes.
‘I think everyone had hoped for something that would take us beyond the Standard Model, but that was probably not realistic at this stage,’ said one researcher, who asked not to be named.
The LHC closed down last month for two years of work that will double its power, and, it is hoped, the reach of its detectors.
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