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Physicists hail particle discovery
British experts queued to heap praise on the discovery of a new sub-atomic particle bearing the hallmarks of the Higgs boson.
Professor Valentin Khoze, director of Durham University's Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology (IPPP), said: "The mounting evidence that Higgs bosons have been produced and detected at the Large Hadron Collider experiment at Cern is a triumph for particle physics.
"Without the Higgs particle, other particles, such as electrons and quarks, would be massless and the Universe would not be what it is.
"Now, with the amazing results from the LHC, we are finally finding growing experimental evidence that the Higgs really exists.
"The second part of the story about the Higgs particle is even more exciting as it provides us with a window to new physics - a tool for the exploration of the truly unknown."
Professor Jordan Nash, head of high energy physics at Imperial College London, said: "This is a fantastic result.
"We are all thrilled to be a part of this discovery and are looking forward with anticipation to studying this new particle and whatever surprises its behaviour may have in store for us."
Professor Jerome Gauntlett, head of theoretical physics at Imperial College London, said: "The discovery of the Higgs boson is a truly great moment for science.
"Its origins go back to the 1960s with enormous contributions made by Peter Higgs in Edinburgh and by Tom Kibble and Nobel Laureate Abdus Salam at Imperial.
"It is fantastic moment for British science that 50 years later on we have received such dramatic confirmation of their profound ideas. Like all great discoveries, more detailed studies of the Higgs are likely to have a huge impact on future fundamental scientific inquiry.
"I expect that they will illuminate the nature of the mysterious Dark Matter that pervades the universe, whether or not there are extra dimensions in addition to the three space dimensions that we observe, and ultimately how to unify the Standard Model of Particle Physics with Einstein's Theory of Gravity."
Professor Paul Dauncey, Professor of Particle Physics at Imperial College London said: "This is a major breakthrough for our understanding of the Universe.
"If this new particle is what we think it is, then it is a completely new type of particle never seen before. We can think of it as the final piece of the puzzle, completing what is considered to be the 'standard' theory. But no-one thinks that's really the end of the story, so it might also be the beginning of a new chapter in physics, the first step to a more fundamental view of how everything came to exist. That's why physicists are excited; we just don't know where this will lead."
Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea, Principal of the University of Edinburgh, said: "We are delighted at this significant development in the search for the Higgs boson, and congratulate Professor Peter Higgs on this.
"This particle is integral to our understanding of the physical world and evidence of its existence is a testament to Professor Higgs and to all the scientists who are working to uncover it.
"Professor Higgs has inspired many colleagues and students over the years, some of whom have also gone on to become involved in the Large Hadron Collider experiments. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations of physicists, at Edinburgh and beyond."
Prof Stefan Soldner-Rembold, Professor of Particle Physics at the University of Manchester, said: "Today we have witnessed a discovery which gives unique insight into our understanding of the universe and the origin of the masses of fundamental particles.
"There is no doubt that the Higgs particle exists and we now have to understand its properties and whether it behaves exactly as predicted by theory."
Professor Dave Charlton, deputy spokesperson for the Atlas experiment at the University of Birmingham's School of Physics and Astronomy, said: "Many people have been working night and day to analyse the fresh data from the LHC which has been pouring in this year, which has allowed us to reveal these exciting preliminary results today.
"The tantalising hints we saw in December are repeated and strengthened in the new Atlas data, so we're now quite confident that we're seeing a new particle.
"Finding out if it's got all the properties of the Standard Model's Higgs boson will need a lot more data and painstaking work. We're now opening a new chapter of fundamental physics, as the LHC was designed to do."
Prof Themis Bowcock, head of particle physics at the University of Liverpool, who has worked on the LHC, said: "This is cast-iron proof that a new particle has been discovered. It looks like the Higgs.
"For physicists the dice are definitely now loaded in favour of a discovery. Based on the Cern results alone there appears to be less than one chance in a million that this is fake, which is roughly the same probability as flipping a coin heads-up 21 times in a row. Very few physicists would privately argue that this is not a Higgs particle.
"Half a century after it was first proposed, and after a monumental effort by generations of physicists around the world, the discovery of the Higgs represents a major breakthrough in our fundamental understanding of nature. For physicists, this is the equivalent of Columbus discovering America."
Professor Sir Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society, said: "This is a big day for science and for human achievement.
"The search for the Higgs boson particle has excited the science community and captured the public imagination.
"The answers are not totally definitive today but that is the way science works - we usually move forward slowly, putting the puzzle together piece by piece.
"The project at Cern is a testament to what can be achieved in science when countries come together and pool resources and brains.
"Today moves us a step closer to a fuller understanding of the very stuff of which the universe is made."