Day after, experts weigh in on 'God particle' discovery

Jul 05, 2012, 14:24 IST | ANI

Two lead Caltech physicists, who were involved in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment to discover Higgs Boson - Dr. Maria Spiropulu and Dr. Harvey Newman, have finally spoken out about their success after years of research to find the elusive particle

The Higgs Boson is a hypothetical particle that is the quantum of the Higgs field, which is claimed to be the missing link in the Standard Model of the Universe.

The field and the particle provide a testable hypothesis for the origin of mass in elementary particles.

In popular culture, it is called the “God particle”, after the title of Nobel physicist Leon Lederman’s ‘The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?’, which contained the author’s assertion that the discovery of the particle is crucial to a final understanding of the structure of matter.

“This discovery bears on the knowledge of how mass comes about at the quantum level, and is the reason we built the LHC. It is an unparalleled achievement,” Maria Spiropulu, Professor of Physics at Caltech, said.

“More than a generation of scientists has been waiting for this very moment and particle physicists, engineers, and technicians in universities and laboratories around the globe have been working for many decades to arrive at this crucial fork.

“This is the pivotal moment for us to pause and reflect on the gravity of the discovery, as well as a moment of tremendous intensity to continue the data collection and analyzes; we must measure the quantum properties of the new particle and determine whether it is ‘the minimal standard model Higgs’ or an imposter -- a Higgs lookalike.

“This is an incredible, exciting moment. Even these early results give us important hints as to how mass in the universe came to be.

“Together with hundreds of our colleagues, we have worked for decades to reach this point: building multiple generations of experiments; designing and building detectors to precisely measure photons, electrons, and muons, which are keys to the discovery; and inventing worldwide systems that empower thousands of physicists throughout the world to collaborate day and night, share and analyze the data, and develop the new techniques leading to this great result,” she said.

Harvey Newman, Professor of Physics at Caltech, also said that the discovery was a “momentous time”.

“This is a momentous time in the history of particle physics and in scientific exploration -- the implications are profound. This is experimental science at its best,” Newman said.

“A Higgs lookalike would propel us into a new realm of experimentation and physics understanding. Our targets are ambitious; they include probing a vast landscape of particles that could comprise the dark matter of the universe and forces that might even elucidate the cosmological observations of dark energy.

“One of the most exciting aspects of this observation is that the road remains open for a vast range of ‘lookalike’ alternatives, where any deviation from the Standard Model would point the way to the existence of other new particles or forces of nature,” he added.

Stephen Hawking loses $100 bet over ‘God particle’ discovery

Stephen Hawking has said that Peter Higgs deserved a Nobel Prize for the groundbreaking discovery of the “God particle”, but admitted that the findings have come at a cost for him.

The 70-year-old theoretical physicist lost a 100-dollar bet as he believed that the Higgs Boson wouldn’t be found.

“I had a bet with Gordon Kane of Michigan University that the Higgs particle wouldn’t be found. It seems I have just lost 100 dollars,” the Telegraph quoted Hawking as saying.

When Higgs first proposed that an invisible field strewn across space gave mass to the building blocks of the universe, the theory was ridiculed by some of the most respected minds of the time.

His first paper was rejected by a journal, while other scientists accused him and his colleagues of failing to grasp the basic principles of physics.

Despite the sleights Higgs, at the time a 34-year-old physicist at Edinburgh University, was convinced that his idea was right although he never envisaged being able to prove it.

48 years on, his radical concept was finally proved correct by an international team of physicists at the Cern laboratory using a 6-billion-pound piece of equipment, designed to uncover the secrets of the Universe, on Wednesday. 

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