To cheers and standing ovations, scientists at the world's biggest atom smasher claimed the discovery of a new subatomic particle Wednesday, calling it "consistent" with the long-sought Higgs boson - popularly known as the "God particle" - that helps explain what gives all matter in the universe size and shape.So what exactly is the Higgs boson?
"We have now found the missing cornerstone of particle physics," Rolf Heuer, director of the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), told scientists.Got that? (By the way, this discovery has been made courtesy of the "CERN's atom smasher, the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border.") To further clarify, the article goes on:
He said the newly discovered subatomic particle is a boson, but he stopped just shy of claiming outright that it is the Higgs boson itself - an extremely fine distinction.
"As a layman, I think we did it," he told the elated crowd. "We have a discovery. We have observed a new particle that is consistent with a Higgs boson."
The Higgs boson, which until now has been a theoretical particle, is seen as the key to understanding why matter has mass, which combines with gravity to give an object weight. The idea is much like gravity and Isaac Newton's discovery of it: Gravity was there all the time before Newton explained it. But now scientists have seen something very much like the Higgs boson and can put that knowledge to further use.
Two independent teams at CERN said Wednesday they have both "observed" a new subatomic particle - a boson. Heuer called it "most probably a Higgs boson, but we have to find out what kind of Higgs boson it is. "
Asked whether the find is a discovery, Heuer answered, "As a layman, I think we have it. But as a scientist, I have to say, '"What do we have?'"
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"The" Higgs or "a" Higgs - that was the question Wednesday.
"It is consistent with a Higgs boson as is needed for the standard model," Heuer said. "We can only call it a Higgs boson - not the Higgs boson."
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The stunning work elicited standing ovations and frequent applause at a packed auditorium in CERN as Gianotti and Incandela each took their turn.
Incandela called it "a Higgs-like particle" and said "we know it must be a boson and it's the heaviest boson ever found."
"Thanks, nature!" Gianotti said to laughs, giving thanks for the discovery.
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Incandela said the last undiscovered piece of the standard model could be a variant of the Higgs that was predicted or something else that entirely changes the way scientists think about how matter is formed."This boson is a very profound thing we have found," he said. "We're reaching into the fabric of the universe in a way we never have done before. We've kind of completed one particle's story ... now, we're way out on the edge of exploration."The bottom line is this: Everything in nature is made up of really, really, really, really, really tiny thingies. If you thought cells were small, then look at molecules. If you think they are small, look at atoms. And if you think they are small, look at protons, neutrons and electrons. They are SUPER small! But that is not all, oh no, that is not all. Now we've got bosons! The "missing cornerstone of particle physics"! And what are bosons made of, you ask? Um... not there yet... but just wait! And then we will really understand the universe.
I am not anti-science. Science has made many wonderful discoveries that have improved the lives of many on this planet. But instead of allowing our discoveries to increase our wonder of God's creation, we worship the creature rather than the Creator. Sir Isaac Newton of gravity fame once said, "In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence." But even as the discoveries of science increase, instead of joining Newton in his awe of God's handiwork, many scientists choose to stick that thumb in God's eye.