News / Science & Technology

Higgs Boson Finding Excites Fermilab Scientists

Kane Farabaugh
BATAVIA, Illinois—Scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced Wednesday the discovery of a subatomic particle that fits the description of the Higgs boson, also known as the "God Particle."  Scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory say the development is historic.

Some 200 scientists and other staffers gathered at Fermilab -- at two o'clock in the morning - to watch the announcement from Geneva.  Many of them have strong connections to the CERN experiment - using the atom-smashing Large Hadron Collider (LHC) to locate the Higgs boson, including the head of the CMS group, Patricia McBride.

"A lot of the techniques that are being used there were first tried out here.  A lot of people did their training here," said McBride.

Scientists have spent hundreds of millions of dollars creating technologically advanced devices that can smash atoms together, and tens of thousands of hours of manpower pouring over the resulting data.  But they now believe they have found what looks like the subatomic particle known as the Higgs boson.

Fermilab Staff Scientist Robert Roser says the Higgs boson is a particle that attracts other particles, and explains how matter has mass.  This gives clues to how planets, and ultimately life, is formed.  But he points out his colleagues at CERN were careful to say they found a "Higgs-like" object, but not the Higgs boson itself.

"It's a subtle difference and so what they will do over the course of the many years, they will start to investigate all of its properties to see if it acts, if it smells, tastes, and behaves the way they expect it to," noted Roser.

Fermilab was home to the LHC's predecessor, the Tevatron Accelerator, which went offline late last year.  Roser says the final data produced by the Tevatron is consistent with CERN's findings.  He says it all adds up to dramatic changes for scientists.

"The finding of this will change the way science views the world immediately, and will change the way I go to work tomorrow.  The way it affects the general public, not so much," Roser added.

While it's not clear yet where the finding will ultimately lead, McBride and Roser say the technology developed to find the Higgs boson has already helped produced technology that we take for granted today.   

"So it's not fair necessarily to ask me today what the practical benefits of the Higgs boson is… I think we'll know in the course of time what that is.  But that said, mankind has always asked the question "why" and we are one step closer to understanding that," Roser said.

The next step, says Roser, is confirming without a scientific doubt that what they now believe is the Higgs Boson, actually is.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs