July 4th, 2012
04:21 AM ET

Scientists say new particle fits description of Higgs boson

Scientists said Wednesday that they had discovered a new particle whose characteristics match those of the Higgs boson, the most sought-after particle in physics, which could help unlock some of the universe's deepest secrets.

"We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature," said Rolf Heuer, the director general of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which has been carrying out experiments in search of the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's largest particle accelerator.

"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," said Heuer.

Announcements by scientists about their analysis of data generated by trillions of particle collisions in the LHC drew avid applause at an eagerly awaited seminar in Geneva, Switzerland, on Wednesday.

The Swiss presentation comes after researchers in Illinois said earlier this week scientists that they had crept closer to proving that the particle exists but had been unable to reach a definitive conclusion.

Finding the Higgs boson would help explain the origin of mass, one of the open questions in physicists' current understanding of the way the universe works.

The particle has been so difficult to pin down that the physicist Leon Lederman reportedly wanted to call his book "The Goddamn Particle." But he truncated that epithet to "The God Particle," which may have helped elevate the particle's allure in popular culture.

Experts say finding the elusive particle would rank as one of the top scientific achievements of the past 50 years.

The Higgs boson is part of a theory first proposed by physicist Peter Higgs and others in the 1960s to explain how particles obtain mass.

The theory proposes that a so-called Higgs energy field exists everywhere in the universe. As particles zoom around in this field, they interact with and attract Higgs bosons, which cluster around the particles in varying numbers.

Imagine the universe like a party. Relatively unknown guests at the party can pass quickly through the room unnoticed; more popular guests will attract groups of people (the Higgs bosons) who will then slow their movement through the room.

The speed of particles moving through the Higgs field works much in the same way. Certain particles will attract larger clusters of Higgs bosons - and the more Higgs bosons a particle attracts, the greater its mass will be.

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Filed under: Science • Switzerland • Technology
soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. Aaron

    That's pretty cool! I love science and learning about the truth of reality. 🙂

    July 4, 2012 at 4:32 am | Report abuse |
    • gatornuts

      Science is reality? I thought it was just a more complicated and contrived form of artifice.

      July 4, 2012 at 4:50 am | Report abuse |
  2. Medhat

    Are we coming close to understand GOD'S nature? Then the word mighty might be to small of a description.................

    July 4, 2012 at 4:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Clinton

      Was just thinking, would God want us to search in the dark, or would he want us to find him/her after proving that we can be more than primates? Humm. I think intelligence is a plus, and that denying our abilities to exceed expectations is not something anybody's God would think less of. It makes me happy to live in such an interesting time.

      July 4, 2012 at 5:09 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jason

    Yeah, Aaron so do I. There's just one thing... this article has the word God in it. Because of that, nutjobs are going to feel compelled to comment about how scientists should read their bible more and search for God there instead of nature. They're going to turn this post into a flame war, like they always do, missing the whole point of the article. Probably after not even reading this article.

    July 4, 2012 at 4:44 am | Report abuse |
  4. matt

    Scientists also say "God Particle" is an idiotic term for the Higgs Boson, coined by the media, that no real physicists ever use.

    July 4, 2012 at 4:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Peace Olugu

      It is high time they had stopped playing with the sacredness of GOD's being.They should to someother concepts.

      July 4, 2012 at 5:13 am | Report abuse |
  5. Daniel Sinnott

    Arrrrrgh – Medham, the work has NOTHING to do with god – finding the particle no more proves or disproves the existence of god(s) if you cannot understand why then read the article again.

    July 4, 2012 at 4:45 am | Report abuse |
  6. nepawoods

    "almost certain that they had proven" ... A rather poor choice of words by the writer. Proof is certainty. Uncertain proof is no proof.

    July 4, 2012 at 4:55 am | Report abuse |
  7. Bob

    The thing is, how do they know they have discovered it? If I am looking for something that resembles a pear from the remnants of a car crash, and I crash enough cars, I will eventually find something that resembles a pear (fruit type, for all you sticklers out there...) in shape and color.. But does that allow me to say that all cars are made of pears (again... the fruit..) and that is what makes them not airplanes (the reference here is 'energy')? Because airplanes do not contain pears (fruit...), only cars. ???? Just sayin'.. If that's the case, then explain how pears make cars.. (how the Higgs particle gives something mass and is not something created to justify the down future if millions of dollars to justify ones position by saying "well, this piece if garbage resembles this shape do it must be the thing" (garbage referring to the bits that are left when you disintegrate an atom). ... I'm just saying, "Trust, but verify".

    July 4, 2012 at 4:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      You know... you could have actually watched the press conferance where they spent the majority of the time discussing how they knew they discovered it. Maybe you could complain about how ATLAS only presented the methods of two channels, but honestly, if you had been watching it, I don't think you'd be complaining about 'how do they know'.

      The answer... coffee, lots and lots of coffee. It takes time to crunch those numbers.

      July 4, 2012 at 4:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      do you know that what they are saying is the truth? I mean really? ... Try blowing up a car, then piece it back together from the remnants. Now, tell me, what brand of car was it? ... And yes, I did in fact watch it. Sounded like a political speech for primary nomination.. Lot of fluff and no real facts..

      July 4, 2012 at 5:05 am | Report abuse |
    • CJEH

      If you'd been watching *and understanding* the announcement, they went into great detail about *why and *how* they can tell it is a new particle, why and how they corrected for errors & deviations in the data, and exactly under what conditions they looked. If you thought that was all fluff and no real facts, you weren't paying attention.

      July 4, 2012 at 5:10 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      I saw fluff only for the first ten minutes of each presentation before they went into discusing their high statistics channels.

      I'm not sure what presentation you were watching. I felt they did a pretty good job at explanaing the statistics, especially showing the improvements over 2011.

      July 4, 2012 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. Andrew

    4,9 sigma at CMS and 5.0 sigma at ATLAS, they really must have been working night and day to get those results out. Brilliant work to the men and women at CERN, and congrats to the particle physics community.

    You were right all along.

    July 4, 2012 at 4:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. adrifter

    They could have just asked Sheldon.

    July 4, 2012 at 4:57 am | Report abuse |
  10. shallowaterfish

    This is wonderful! One step closer to finding out the existence of god! Too bad some ignorant scientist will just make up more excuses to deny there being a creator...

    July 4, 2012 at 5:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      ... Don't be shallow, you bring down the mean academic level. ....

      July 4, 2012 at 5:07 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Lol, shallow fish... 😀

      July 4, 2012 at 5:09 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      You are an idiot..Why must the religious always poke their heads in places they do not understand? This has NOTHING to do with religion, as this is REALITY! Nothing more need be said.

      July 4, 2012 at 5:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Joseph

      To a layman like myself,I would say it sounds like one closer step to creating a black hole

      July 4, 2012 at 5:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. gargle

    The Christians are outraged! I'll admit, it is upsetting to find out you are wrong. Especially for egotistic Americans.

    July 4, 2012 at 5:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Not so smart to bring nationality into play here..Just saying.

      July 4, 2012 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Jason

      Not so smart to bring nationality into play here..Just saying. What does geographical location have to do with it?

      July 4, 2012 at 5:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. ToothAndNail

    Will they look for the graviton next? Not joking. Its another theoretical thing.

    July 4, 2012 at 5:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      The Higgs was the last particle predicted by the standard model, a particle that we were virtually certain to exist. The gravaton is a particle under a couple models of quantum gravity that we don't even have a fully flushed out theoretical understanding of, let alone be able to design experiments to detect it.

      They're worlds apart.

      July 4, 2012 at 5:24 am | Report abuse |
    • chyrd

      According to scientists... finding the graviton is next to impossible... a detector the size of Jupiter placed near an electron star may detect one every 10 years but it would be virtually indistinguishable from other particles

      July 4, 2012 at 5:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe


      July 4, 2012 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
  13. dPLAY


    July 4, 2012 at 5:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael

      I agree with Daniel

      July 4, 2012 at 5:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. ToothAndNail

    So wait...they're saying particles (which should have mass in it of themselves) cluster in the higgs field where they essentially are given the chance to collide with other particles to create higgs boson particles. This bonding continues until this cluster has a discernible mass. But particles again should have mass as well....sooooo? Sounds like chicken and the egg theory. Unless these other particles are in the form of energy (massless) and thereby interfere with one another because of this higgs field to create mass.

    July 4, 2012 at 5:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob


      July 4, 2012 at 5:17 am | Report abuse |
    • shadda

      @ToothAndNail The idea is that without the Higgs Boson, particles wouldn't be able to *have* mass in the first place. No mass equals no gravity equals no attraction of matter equals no universe.

      July 4, 2012 at 5:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Andrew

      Huh? If you notice for a second, the "mass" they cite is actually the energy of the higgs boson. "A mass of 125GeV" because really to convert into commonly thought of "rest mass" you just devide by c^2, as per E=mc^2.

      The Higgs is responsible for giving the rest mass of a particle, so more 'massive' particles would have more inertia in a higgs field and travel slower, while massless particles like the photon travel straight through. That's not to say a photon doesn't have energy though, just no rest mass. Any particle that interacts with the Higgs field, including the Higgs itself, won't travel like light, and so be called "massive". Neutrinos are effectivly massless as well, and travel at essentially c.

      July 4, 2012 at 5:32 am | Report abuse |
    • chyrd

      Your last sentence is the correct one... without the interaction with the higgs field... particles are massless... photons do not interact with bigger and are therefore massless... and travel at light speed... think of the implications...

      July 4, 2012 at 5:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      ... A photon has momentum, but no inertia. Shine a flashlight at a mirrored pinwheel in a vacuum jar to see this in action. So, what exactly is "gravity"? ...

      July 4, 2012 at 5:50 am | Report abuse |
  15. Bob

    ... Fix the mobile app to show ALL comments.. Would be a GOOD improvement. *ahem*

    July 4, 2012 at 5:16 am | Report abuse |
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