"It's a boson:" Higgs quest bears new particle
By CHRIS WICKHAM - REUTERS
Added: Wed, 04 Jul 2012 17:27:09 UTC
(Reuters) - Scientists at Europe's CERN research centre have found a new subatomic particle, a basic building block of the universe, which appears to be the boson imagined and named half a century ago by theoretical physicist Peter Higgs.
"We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature," CERN director general Rolf Heuer told a gathering of scientists and the world's media near Geneva on Wednesday.
"The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle's properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe."
Two independent studies of data produced by smashing proton particles together at CERN's Large Hadron Collider produced a convergent near-certainty on the existence of the new particle. It is unclear whether it is exactly the boson Higgs described.
But addressing scientists assembled in the CERN auditorium, Heuer posed them a question: "As a layman, I would say I think we have it. Would you agree?" A roar of applause said they did.
For some, there was no doubt the Higgs boson is found: "It's the Higgs," said Jim Al-Khalili of Surrey University, a British physicist and popular broadcaster. "The announcement from CERN is even more definitive and clear-cut than most of us expected."
Higgs, now 83, from Edinburgh University was among six theorists who in the early 1960s proposed the existence of a mechanism by which matter in the universe gained mass. Higgs himself argued that if there were an invisible field responsible for the process, it must be made up of particles.
He and some of the others were at CERN to welcome news of what, to the embarrassment of many scientists, some commentators have labeled the "God particle", for its role in turning the Big Bang into a living universe. Clearly overwhelmed, his eyes welling up, Higgs told the symposium of fellow researchers: "It is an incredible thing that it has happened in my lifetime." Read more
Also read more and join the discussion in an article by Lawrence Krauss on Slate that was posted earlier today.
Robert Wright - The Atlantic Comments
Hawking wasn't available to answer that question, but I did manage to have a long conversation with an American physicist who had also doubted the existence of the Higgs--Lawrence Krauss
Lawrence M. Krauss - New York Times Comments
A Blip That Speaks of Our Place in the Universe
Lawrence M. Krauss - The Daily Beast Comments
How the Higgs Boson Posits a New Story of our Creation
Johnathan Brown - The Independent Comments
As an atheist with no desire to upset believers, Professor Peter Higgs has always hated the idea of a God particle. He has never been keen on the nomenclature of the Higgs boson either – referring to it as "the particle named after me" on the rare occasions he gives an interview.