Computers and Technology
Submitted By 405665
THE GOD PARTICLE: HAS IT REALLY BEEN DISCOVERED?
Speaking to a packed audience Wednesday morning in Geneva, CERN director general Rolf Heuer confirmed that two separate teams working at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are more than 99 percent certain they've discovered the Higgs boson, aka the God particle—or at the least a brand-new particle exactly where they expected the Higgs to be.
The long-sought particle may complete the standard model of physics by explaining why objects in our universe have mass—and in so doing, why galaxies, planets, and even humans have any right to exist. "We have a discovery," Heuer said at the seminar. "We have observed a new particle consistent with a Higgs boson."
History in the Making
At the meeting were four theorists who helped develop the Higgs theory in the 1960s, including Peter Higgs himself, who could be seen wiping away tears as the announcement was made.
Although preliminary, the results show a so-called five-sigma of significance, which means that there is only a one in a million chance that the Higgs-like signal the teams observed is a statistical fluke.
"It's a tremendous and exciting time," said physicist Michael Tuts, who works with the ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) Experiment, one of the two Higgs-seeking LHC projects.
The Columbia University physicist had organized a wee-hours gathering of physicists and students in the U.S. to watch the announcement, which took place at 9 a.m., Geneva time.
"This is the payoff. This is what you do it for."
The two LHC teams searching for the Higgs—the other being the CMS (Compact Muon, an elementary particle with a mass about 200 times that of an electron, Solenoid) project—did so independently. Neither one knew what the other would present this morning.
"It was interesting that the competing experiment essentially had the same result," said physicist Ryszard…...