News In Depth
Scientists hail God particle find
Scientists may have finally tracked down the elusive "God particle" that gives matter mass and holds the physical fabric of the universe together.
Teams at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the £2.6 billion "Big Bang" atom-smasher near Geneva, said they had found a new particle "consistent" with the Higgs boson.
The discovery was described as "momentous" and "a milestone". But the results are preliminary and more work is needed before the scientists can be sure about what they have captured.
Observations so far show it looks and acts like the long-sought particle that has eluded them for 50 years.
Finding the Higgs is vital to the Standard Model, the theory that describes the web of particles, forces and interactions that make up the universe.
Without the Higgs boson to give matter mass and weight, there could be no Standard Model universe. If it was proven not to exist, scientists would have to rip up the theory and go back to the drawing board.
Professor Peter Higgs, the retired British physicist from Edinburgh University who lent his name to the particle, heard the announcement with other scientists at a packed seminar in Geneva.
The 83-year-old professor hit on the concept of the Higgs mechanism in 1964 while walking in the Cairngorms.
Known for his unassuming nature and shunning the limelight, he wiped away a tear as the historic significance of the findings became apparent.
"I am astounded at the amazing speed with which these results have emerged," he said.
"I never expected this to happen in my lifetime and shall be asking my family to put some champagne in the fridge."
Prof Higgs could now be eligible for a Nobel Prize.
The announcement came at the Geneva headquarters of Cern, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, where a tense audience heard the latest progress report from the LHC.
In December last year, LHC scientists revealed they had caught the first tantalising glimpses of the particle.
But the process of proving a new piece of the universe is real is a slow and careful one, similar to getting closer to a familiar face seen from afar.
Since the initial excitement the scientists have sifted through vast quantities of data from billions of high energy collisions in an effort to reduce the chances of being wrong.
They confirmed that two of the LHC's giant detectors, CMS and Atlas, had delivered results achieving the definitive "five sigma" level of proof.
A sigma is a measure of how likely it is that a finding is down to chance. At five sigma, the likelihood of a statistical fluke is one in a million.
Cern director general Rolf Heuer said: "We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature."
The LHC, the largest scientific instrument ever built, lies in an underground tunnel with a circumference of 17 miles (27.4km) which straddles the French-Swiss border near Geneva.
Protons, the "hearts" of atoms, are fired around the ring in opposite directions at almost the speed of light. When they smash together, huge amounts of energy are converted into mass and new particles created which then decay into lighter particles.
Higgs bosons emerge from the maelstrom but only very fleetingly - for less than a trillionth of a second - before decaying. By tracing the decay patterns, the scientists were able to find the "fingerprint" of the Higgs.
Prof Higgs was not the only scientist to be overcome with emotion by today's news.
Dr Kristian Harder, a CMS scientist from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Didcot, Oxfordshire, said: "To be honest, I was listening to the transmission from Cern and I shed a tear.
"It may seem strange to someone not involved in particle physics that this is so important for us. This search has gone on since 10 years before I was born."
Professor Jon Butterworth, from University College London, a member of the Atlas team, said: "We don't know exactly what we've discovered but it's fundamental, new and exciting, and it looks like the Higgs boson.
"I think it's something so like the Standard Model Higgs that any differences will be incidental. We still need to see that it does the job the Higgs is there for, which is to give particles mass."
Both the Atlas and CMS detectors found the new particle at a mass region of around 126 GeV (gigaelectrovolts) - exactly where the Higgs was expected to be.
In particle physics, energy and mass are interchangeable, and the mass of particles is described in terms of energy.
Finding the particle only marks the start of a new era of discovery at the frontiers of physics.
Future research may uncover more than one Higgs boson, or find better ways of describing the universe than the Standard Model.
One theory, called "supersymmetry", calls for more than five Higgs-like particles with completely different properties.
No-one can yet say whether the discovery will ever have a direct practical application. Manipulating the Higgs boson, and its associated force field, raises the futuristic prospect of controlling weight - that is, making heavy objects light and vice versa. But at present such notions are fantasy.
However, scientists believe the enormous multibillion-pound cost of searching for the Higgs can already be justified by spin-offs in areas as diverse as medicine, computing, electronics and manufacturing.
One of the most significant was the internet's World Wide Web, which was invented at Cern to aid communication between particle physicists across the globe.
what do you think?
I'm baffled, these scientists believe that atoms collided and there was the big bang. When they associate the name of this particle as a god particle they are referring that a higher power had created it???
No, just journalists...
I don't think it'll be too long before all the billions of £ they spent on finding this Higg's Boson particle results in us all being able to go to town and buy a Higg's Boson lamp for £10 or so.
They're far to intelligent to think some fictional god was responsible, it's just tongue in cheek!
The physicist involved detest the term "God particle". Its a term created by the media to stir up interest and sell papers etc.
Ninety present of world population do not understand or interested in these so called findings Most people only worried about how to feed their family . Please spend the money on people in the world poorest
The world's poorest get loads of money given by charities and yet no long term progress is made. The world's poorest aren't the only things that money has to be spent on.
You have raised a very fair point, olly, money gets ploughed in, no progress is made! Baffles me, too!
Nothing baffling about handing money carte - banche to countries controlled by profiteering gangsters. If you want these countries to make progress, then place them back under colonial rule and just watch the farms and water supplies flourish------FACT!
Roger, I think you made a fair point, explain further?
And 99% of the world could very well benefit from this discovery. An understanding of both the Higg's Boson and the underlying Higgs Field could/should very well lead towards major strides in the development of cheap and near limitless energy supplies. Why is it the same numpties attacking science for spending money towards the betterment of all mankind never berate the worlds governments for the billions spent on warmongering world wide?
Although a bachelor, family concerns are mine too. Earth is worryingly overpopulated.
I was jus' thinkin' to meself, yesterday, if the human body and brain is made of atomic and subatomic, quantum mechanical structures, then we is not made of the one, two or three dimensions of space and the fourth dimension of time. We is, it would appear, formed of, possibly, infinitely multi-dimensional quantum mechanical ... parts. This might explain some apparent paranormal events. Another possibility would be, in future, medical advances originating from subatomic science might create an entirely new field of "multi dimensional, quantum mechanical treatments." Far beyond what we yet understand due to, well, when was the last time you lot had multi-dimensional medicine? Beyond space and time? The possibilty that humans are multi-dimensional, quantum structures, seems to almost foretell something going way beyond magnetic resonance imaging to things we can't yet imagine.
This is the Orange news website. Do you really think anyone has a clue what you're talking about?
Well, yes. If they can all use computers then they can't be any less stupid than I always have been. There everyone was thinking I post me comments and don't bother reading any replies.
Adrian's talking rubbish....as usual!
Yes actually 'Olly Olly' i do understand what he is talking about, and it is an interesting suggestion. Not every denizen of the internet is an imbacile, though unfortunately most are!
Whatever your on Adrian, I want some of it! Incidentally, I'm blitzing my particles around the Universe at the moment - hope the Doctor has a cure!
Bums! I thought they had found a little piece of God! Gutted.
Haha! That's because there isn't one!
It's really put together with treacle from willy wonka's chocolate factory!!
Yeah.....makes sense to me!
In the great scheme of things........is it important?
Because it is what mankind does,pushes boundaries, develops,evolves, discovers.... Its the reason we are discussing this sitting at keyboards miles apart, its the reason we can fly in aircraft,its the reason we arent still living in caves scraping drawings into walls....its why we are here. Or else what is the point,if we are just going to stand still.
Ok Adam.....and very well said! :-)
Well Adam, see my reply to Mike Webster (above) that's what else - even if it's self defeating in the longer run!
"No-one can yet say whether the discovery will ever have a direct practical application. Manipulating the Higgs boson, and its associated force field, raises the futuristic prospect of controlling weight - that is, making heavy objects light and vice versa. But at present such notions are fantasy." Fantasy shmantasy. Anti Gravity, here we come! ;D
God news for overweight people then.
This discovery is further progress in mans' continuing search for knowledge, which is our raison d'etre. Will it be regarded as run of the mill in the future as is Newton's discovery of gravity and the first splitting of the atom. Please keep searching
...and there was me thinking that man's " our raison d'etre" was to have sex and make babies!
They had to find something after spending all that money or they would just have egg on their faces. What holds the "god particle" together? Well lets spend several more billion to find that out. Nice work if you can get it.
may , is an infinitly large word .with no conclusion .
Which 'GOD' does the headline refer to?? Christian, Hindu, Islamic?? Or do we just insert our own personal preference of deity to suit?
....mine will be mother nature, then!
there is only one God look for yourself at Isaiah 45 verse 18 ....says this" For this is what Jehovah ( his name) has said the creator of the heavens (universe) He the TRUE God the Former of the earth and the Maker of it He the one who firmly established it ,who did not crate it simply for nothing ,who formed it even to be inhabited " I am JEHOVAH and there is no one else ...New World Translation
In this case I think they are referring to my God, Thor! He is so much more macho and a very apt God for hammering atoms!
No wonder the world is in a mess. All these nutters wasting millions of pounds. They should be concentrating on something worthwhile like a cure for Alzheimer's or Multiple Sclerosis. The world is upside down and these idiots are focusing on something that does not exist.
Couldn't agree more!!!!!! Having nursed and supported people I've loved through Dementia to its cruel end, researching a cure or even worthwile treatment would be something amazing. The expertise is there, but it's not as glamorous as finding the glue that holds us all together.
Who knows what they will find during all of this research. Maybe things will be discovered through the use of this technology that will help us in all sorts of fields in years to come. What I do know for certain is that if we dont look then we will never find anything.
That is not really fair, B Wise. We and everything else around us are composed of atoms. Those atoms have so far been investigated to such a degree that our research scientists have found them to be composed of even smaller "particles" (although even that descriptive term is far to large to describe matter that is so very very tiny.) In experimenting further with colliders, they have been able to find answers to some very important technical issues that can seriously benefit mankind. It is through painstaking research like this where samples are sometimes turned over to particle, research to take matters deeper and further, that we may yet find the means to more effectively treat dementia, cancers and other terrible illnesses and diseases.
Does anyone know where the finances for CERNE comes from?? Whose money are they spending?
It is an internationally funded scientific project. Incidentally, there are many products, and health related projects that have been aided by other particle research which is still going on independently in our country.
MIKE - Thank you, I feel a little more informed today than I was yesterday.
Apparently 'FUN ding' all as one word isn't allowed by the censors at orange. Anyone know why? I tried to use it in my question below but couldn't post until I changed it??
I really do hope that it is not Tony Blaire, but don't you think that there has to be a particle which would have to be before the Higgs?
A BIG BANG !! never heard or seen any explosion that resulted in things of complex order such as the universe . much more credibility in the words " IN THE BEGINNING ......yes science acknowledges it had a BEGINNING but The Bible could have told them how as stated in Genesis i verse 1 the first words written down there ,but ... they want the answer to come from them that is their choice
You are entitled to enjoy your beliefs ronniewood99. But I hardly think that borrowed and adapted beliefs from ancient Sumerians, written down much later and then translated into "our" bible by scholars 400 years ago with their limited knowledge is going to be prove that the World, the Universe and everything was created in exactly that fashion. They were simply trying to explain (as many other religions have) things they did not fully understand. Of course, it was all created. But what the scientific community is trying to establish is how, without resorting to fairy tales.
Do physicist believe in a God?
There would be no World Wide Web but for the work at CERN thats without other applications including medical, don't be all doom and gloom people!