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.

Higgs boson: What you should know

Fabiola Gianotti: The woman at the leading edge of physics

Scientists getting clearer picture of ‘God particle’

Post by:
Filed under: Science • Switzerland • Technology
soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. The Rev Dr Sherwood Forrester

    Can CNN *NOT* call this the 'god particle'? A putative deity has nothing to do with the CERN discovery. The Higgs boson provides a mechanism that gives particles mass. It does not mystically breathe them into being. And since it's a term the researchers themselves don't use, it's also sloppy journalism.

    That said, congratulations to both CERN teams, and especially to Peter Higgs. There's still more confirmatory work to do, and even in the unlikely event this discovery is not the Higgs boson, it's still a major discovery since a particle of that mass isn't otherwise predicted by the Standard Model.

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

      Dude, really?

      July 4, 2012 at 5:18 am | Report abuse |
    • arturotorres

      America is free again. So deal with it. President Obama got America directed to our destiny and successful future.

      July 4, 2012 at 6:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Jan

      thas exactly what I thought when I saw the headline. It doesn't serve a purpose and it just gives the fundies a reason to yell again. Remember if all of religion was whiped out and we started over it wouldn't be the same as we have now but if science were to start over we'd arrive exactly where we are eventually!

      July 4, 2012 at 6:20 am | Report abuse |
    • arturotorres

      Now deal with the gay force.

      July 4, 2012 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
    • gargle

      Most American journalism is sloppy. They are just pandering to the masses in order to make money. The American dream!

      July 4, 2012 at 6:21 am | Report abuse |
    • arturotorres

      GOD IS LOVE . Too many haters in America mostly in Arirona and the tea party and Republicans. Republicans are like the tories during the American Revolution. Fo America is undergoing a peace revolution. PRESIDENT Obama JUST FREED THE GAYS.

      July 4, 2012 at 6:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. youwillbejudged

    It's sad enough you anti-Obama folks fight passionately and immorally to create a society where people (including children) who can't afford medical treatments suffer and die, but why would you bring politics into this? Can't you all leave politics alone for 2 minutes of your life to learn something about science?

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

      It is sad that you communist socialist obama loving parasites can't learn feom the government response to Katrina and the oil spill and know that government can't be trusted to run health care. Bureacrats that are counterproductive and do everything they can do to stop progress, did you know that the obama administratipn stopped people from rescuing animals from the oil because they didn't have the right paperwork while the government did absolutely nothing for a month? And that's who you want in charge of your health care? You may as well elect the grim reaper as chairman of the board, but I guess you won't learn until you meet the grim reaper. I hope the government does absolutely nothing for a month when you need emergency heart surgery, maybe then you liberal idiots will learn government has no place in health care.

      July 4, 2012 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      Obama personaly halted this.
      Actually had the time to to check paperwork?
      Wow.
      I'm amazed.

      July 4, 2012 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • mickey1313

      ham, communist and socialist, not the same thing. Obama is neither, and you need to read a book, and remember, when bush the elderly left office, the country was in a bad spot, when Clinton left we were in a great place. When bush the child left we were in an awful place. Now we are bad, but growing better. Can you see the problem w with the gop argument.

      July 5, 2012 at 1:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Ted

      You just put your own politics in it with that statement. Pot meet kettle.

      July 4, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob

    break it down, don't just publish a link.. Come on guy..

    July 4, 2012 at 5:19 am | Report abuse |
  4. CJEH

    Well, since I'm not Phil Plait- I can only hand you a link to his site. However, he is darn good at what he does- explaining science & discovery to us non-scientist types 🙂

    July 4, 2012 at 5:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      ... But what if u are a "sciency type?"

      July 4, 2012 at 5:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. Pat Lukes

    Seriously, this article has nothing to do with politics, but it seems that the Right is so uptight, they just can't bringing the subject of politics into every conversation. Creepy, unhappy people, you Republicans are, for sure.

    July 4, 2012 at 5:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Hamsta

      Noone on the right said anything, just the communist obama loving socialist left wingnut neo nazis.

      July 4, 2012 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  6. Bob

    I graduated in the top third of navy nuclear power school, and am an ex-nuclear machinist... I call bull$€!T.. The one thing I learned is that all we know is based on supposition. Case in point? "Poof", a nuke term for when an energy (say, gamma?) in excess of 2.83 MeV passes close to a nucleus and then it forms a positron and an electron... "Poof", it happens... Kinda makes you think, huh?

    July 4, 2012 at 5:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Guess what "Foop" means.?.. If u guessed "what happens when a positron and an electron collide" then u would be correct.. It forms TWO gammas, moving in opposite directions whose energy combined equal 2.83 MeV.. Ask a nuke physicist why? And he will say "Because"... ...

      July 4, 2012 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      I say this because I am surprised at what WE (the people) don't know.. Most is based on an educated guess. Kinda scary huh?..,

      July 4, 2012 at 5:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob

      Huh? 🙂

      July 4, 2012 at 5:39 am | Report abuse |
  7. underskin

    Why is it that CNN feels the need to propagate the absurd nickname of "God Particle" to this. What a middle age habit. Yes, I know , in the story they say Lederman invented the nickname, but still... If you look on the BBC article about the very same topic, "God" appears exactly zero times in the story, and this is exactly how it should be.

    July 4, 2012 at 5:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. Andrew

    Didn't know he was live blogging it, cool. I was watching the presentation and reading some french particle physics blog (written in english) but I've got a soft spot for the bad astronomer.

    July 4, 2012 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. Texsean

    Easy there, I'm a conservative nd christian blogger and frequently labeled a nut job and I think this is a great leap in our understanding of matter. A particle that explains mass is not a attack on my religion. I just hope Obama and his high taxing, job killing policies get voted out in november so private sector can grow again. That way, us wealthier Americans can donate our money to causes WE like to, such as private colleges and organizations that help discover great scientific accomplishments such as this. Not forced welfare donations via high taxation so my neighbors with new cars and cellphones can get free food in a school lunch program that has grown to an all time high usage of 66% of American families. That stifles scientific discovery my friends. Not taxing me more. I don't mind taxes as long as they are used wisely and think that a small percentage should go toward NASA and other scientific research, but, my tiny example of waste in the lunch programs cost as much as a war. Go look it up if you doubt me.

    Sure there are religious out there that may think this is an attack on their religion. Not me.

    July 4, 2012 at 5:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Where do you get your figures????????????? America spends more money on bullets every year than it does on the school lunch program!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! In addition what do you think we should spend money on anyway????????????? There is no such thing as a FREE MARKET so don't pretend its up to everyone to compete in the free market!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      That is a myth propagated to the uneducated

      July 4, 2012 at 5:55 am | Report abuse |
  10. neopotter

    $100 says this discovery will be turned into GREAT comedy-fodder for Sheldon, Leonard & Co. in the upcoming 6th season of "The Big Bang Theory"!

    ...BA-ZINGA!

    July 4, 2012 at 5:35 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Why does everyone like that show so much? I will never understand. You have to be not stoned to enjoy it or something?

      July 4, 2012 at 5:48 am | Report abuse |
  11. pntkl

    Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
    Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
    For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
    Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
    From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
    Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
    And soonest our best men with thee do go,
    Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
    Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
    And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
    And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
    And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
    One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
    And death shall be no more, death, thou shalt die.

    July 4, 2012 at 5:41 am | Report abuse |
  12. Michael

    Did you read the article? This isn't a god particle in the sense of "proof of god particle." Physicist Peter Higgs (as in Higgs-Bosson) came up with the name. Peter Higgs is a vocal atheist. Also science news is not the place for politics.

    July 4, 2012 at 5:41 am | Report abuse |
  13. Peter Wolfe

    Why is politics mentioned in scientific discovery especially when it doesn't coorilate with the news article? If you were to ask a question about this physics perhaps the controvercial Congress misallocating cuts to the hydrian collider project that originated more or less here in the states would be more apt not presidential politics. I find it funny seeing people bicker about less important things when others like me would love to study science but can't because of my legal blindness impediment. Sad to see the human race devolve into uncivilized pity arguments when there still so much for us to solve as a collective race e.g. cure for cancer and disability, exploration of the universe, production of affordable and sustainable energy, etc.

    July 4, 2012 at 5:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Vern Sawyer

      How does legal blindness prevent you from pursuing the study of physics? I've taken several hard science classes with blind students.

      July 4, 2012 at 5:52 am | Report abuse |
  14. Potential

    I wonder if you could manufacture this so called "God Particle" as a tool of destruction. It is said that this particle attracts other particles, so theoretically, if you attracted enough particles to a 'Higgs Boson' and then inserted a variable which makes the particles collide with each other violently, energy will be created.

    July 4, 2012 at 5:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. jR

    Alright we spent another billion dollars on the slamming particles ( to replicate God really?) , can we stop now, we are going to Mars to find water, another billion dollars, can we stop now, are we so indulged with our selves that those billions of dollars cant be diverted to making this planet more livable, have we given up on the planet that we have to find differnet ways to leave it.
    how about converting salt water to fresh water worldwide so there will be crops where there was sand, improving drinking water from unpotable water so people dont have to wash in their own waste, hello is any one out tther???
    Silence......................................................

    July 4, 2012 at 5:54 am | Report abuse |
    • chf

      "Alright we spent another billion dollars on the slamming particles ( to replicate God really?) , can we stop now... how about converting salt water to fresh water worldwide so there will be crops where there was sand, improving drinking water from unpotable water so people dont have to wash in their own waste, hello...."

      Such short-sighted thinking typical of conservamoron mentality. Such a fundamental discovery can and will enable all sorts of new technologies, ones that may cheaply desalinate water. Naysayers ridiculed the space program similarly yet today we enjoy the vast fruits of that investment.

      July 4, 2012 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4