After decades of searching, scientists have finally claimed to have located the elusive Higgs boson – the ‘God particle’.
Researchers working at the Large Hadron Collider at the Cern facility reckon they have pinpointed the elusive particle that is a major piece of the puzzle in the understanding how the universe is put together.
While it will take more time to put the discovery away from any doubt, the chances of being wrong are in the millions to one – after two independent teams showed that they had come up with similar results after months of tests.
It was discovered that the Higgs boson had been hiding out in the 126 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) mass region, the particle physics equivalent of right at the back of the sofa behind the two pence coins.
The Higgs boson, first hypothesised back in the 1960s by Peter Higgs, is fundamental in tying together the known universe into matter by giving it mass. At the press conference Higgs said the discovery is “really the most incredible thing” that happened in his lifetime.
The Higgs particle is formed as part of the Higgs field, essentially a treacle like substance that can slow down the particles which make up the universe, and stop them pinging around at light speed.
This makes the discovery important as the Higgs boson is the reason why any matter is formed, from electrons to Scrumpy Jack to Ziggy from Big Brother 8.
The discovery is more of an affirmation of what was already thought rather than a new take on the universe. In fact, some scientists have even claimed that not finding the Higgs would be more interesting as it would subvert large parts of what had been presumed about the universe.
However, aside from confirming what has been assumed as the Standard Model, the discovery could also open the door for more discoveries about how the universe was created, with the Higgs boson as one of the most fundamental building blocks.
According to Professor Jim Al-Khalili, the work done on the Higgs boson could support further work at the LHC into the nature of dark matter – another long-standing mystery which the world may now be closer to understanding.