News / Science & Technology

CERN Scientists Confirm Boson Discovery

An undated handout graphic distributed on July 4, 2012 by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva shows a representation of traces of traces of a proton-proton collision measured in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experience in theAn undated handout graphic distributed on July 4, 2012 by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva shows a representation of traces of traces of a proton-proton collision measured in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experience in the
x
An undated handout graphic distributed on July 4, 2012 by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva shows a representation of traces of traces of a proton-proton collision measured in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experience in the
An undated handout graphic distributed on July 4, 2012 by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva shows a representation of traces of traces of a proton-proton collision measured in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experience in the
TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Schlein
GENEVA — Scientists at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, report they have discovered a new subatomic particle that might be the elusive Higgs boson. Further research will be needed to confirm whether this is the so-called "God particle" which scientists believe can explain some of the most basic questions about our universe.

A jubilant director-general of CERN, Rolf Heuer, calls this exciting new discovery a remarkable achievement.

"I think we have a success today.  We have a discovery.  We have discovered a new particle, a boson - most probably a Higgs boson, but we have to find out which kind of Higgs boson this is," said Heuer.  "Does it have the properties which we expect from the Standard Model?  If not, what are its properties and where do they point to? ...We have now found the last missing cornerstone, I think."

In particle physics, the Standard Model is sometimes known as "a theory of almost everything" that affects how subatomic particles interact and affect each other. Scientists believe the Higgs boson could explain how matter attains its mass.  The search for the elusive particle, named after physicist Peter Higgs, has been going on for 45 years.  

The answers to decades-old questions soon may be within reach thanks to CERN's $10 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world's biggest atom smasher. It produces high-energy collisions of protons to investigate dark matter, antimatter and the creation of the universe.

Theorists believe the Higgs boson existed only during the first millionth of a millionth of a second after the Big Bang, when the universe was created more than 13 billion years ago.  Physicists at CERN are trying to recreate the high energies that existed at the time of the Big Bang.

The results presented Wednesday are based on data collected in 2011 and 2012 during two experiments known as Atlas and CMS, but scientists involved say more research must be done to solidify their results.  However, they say even the preliminary results are dramatic and clear-cut evidence of the existence of a new particle.

A spokesman for one of the experiment teams, Joe Incandela, says the boson is very profound and unlike any other particle found so far.

"We are reaching into the fabric of the universe at a level we have never done before," Incandela noted.  "This is telling us something. … It is key to the structure of the universe. …We are on the frontier now.  We are at the edge of a new exploration and this could open up... Maybe we see nothing extraordinary.  We understand that maybe this is the only part of the story that is left.  Or maybe we open up a whole new realm of discovery."

Peter Higgs attended the physics seminar at CERN Wednesday and was clearly moved by the results, but he would not comment on his observations.

"I think it is not appropriate for me to answer any detailed questions at this stage.  This is an occasion celebrating an experimental achievement, and I should congratulate the people involved," Higgs said.  

Scientists say the implications of the new findings are very significant.  They want more detailed studies, with larger data sets, to pin down the new particle's properties and possibly shed light on other mysteries of the universe.

CERN had been planning to shut down its atom-smasher for two years, but due to these dramatic results it will keep the Large Hadron Collider in service for another two to three months before beginning essential maintenance work.

Scientists say their knowledge of the fundamental structure of matter is about to take a major step forward, regardless of the form the Higgs particle takes.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid