The ‘God particle’, hailed as the holy grail of physics, may have been glimpsed for the first time. Excited scientists at the Large Hadron Collider – the world’s biggest atom smasher – are expected to announce today that they have spotted the Higgs boson particle. While they will not claim definitive proof, they are tipped to reveal tantalising evidence of the particle’s existence. Theoretical physicist and blogger Sascha Vongehr said: ‘The anticipation among physics enthusiasts is almost palpable.’ The Higgs boson is regarded – by those who know about such things – as the key to understanding the universe. Its job is, apparently, to give the particles that make up atoms their mass. Without this mass, these particles would zip though the cosmos at the speed of light, unable to bind together to form the atoms that make up everything in the universe, from planets to people.WATCH: Scientists claim glimpse of 'Higgs' particle.
The Higgs boson’s existence was predicted in 1964 by Edinburgh University physicist Peter Higgs. But it has eluded previous searchers – so much so that not all scientists believe in its existence. Today, two teams of scientists at CERN’s collider, near Geneva, are expected to announce they have glimpsed it for the first time. The collider, housed in an 18-mile tunnel buried deep underground near the French-Swiss border, smashes beams of protons – sub-atomic particles – together at close to the speed of light, recreating the conditions that existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang. If the physicists’ theory is correct, a few Higgs bosons should be created in every trillion collisions, before rapidly decaying. This decay would leave behind a ‘footprint’ that would show up as a bump in their graphs.WATCH: Higgs boson 'glimpsed' at Large Hadron Collider.
Now it is thought that two separate teams of scientists, who run independent experiments in secret from each other, have both uncovered evidence of the particle. However, the two groups, CMS and ATLAS, are expected to stop short of confirming its existence. This is because they are not entirely confident that their results cannot be explained by chance. Oliver Buchmueller, of the CMS group, said: ‘I am feeling quite a level of excitement.’ He added that if the ATLAS results mirrored those of his group, then ‘we’re moving very close to a conclusion in the first few months of next year’. Tara Shears, a particle physicist at Liverpool University, said that ‘we need [Higgs boson] to make sense of the universe’. But CMS scientist Bruce Kennedy, of the Science and Technology Facilities Council, said: ‘If the Higgs is found, it will only be the start. ‘We will have to understand its properties and if it fits in correctly with our theoretical explanations.’ - Daily Mail.WATCH: God particle - why CERN scientists have been using the Large Hadron Collider to look for it.