Thursday, 05 July 2012 09:23
July 5, 2012
After hitting a snag in 2008 that closed down the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC) for more than a year, the sprawling machine came through for the world of science when it led to the discovery of a particle that could help physicists better understand matter, the universe and how we got here in the first place.
According to Bloomberg, the new particle is the heaviest boson ever discovered, according to Joe Incandela, a spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Incandela made the announcement on Wednesday, July 4, at the project's headquarters in Switzerland, where scientists all but confirmed the new particle is the long-sought Higgs boson, or "God particle."
"As a layman, I think I would say 'we have it,'" said Rolf-Dieter Heuer, director of CERN, at a press conference in Geneva. However, another three or four years of research is required to fully understand the observed particle.
With the discovery, humankind is one step closer to answering a question that has been on the minds of our species since the ancient Greeks: What are we made of? Scientists now have the final piece of a puzzle that will allow them to prove the Standard Model, a sweeping theory that attempts to explain how the universe began. What's more, the particle may also be a key part of learning about new and still highly theoretical physics such as superparticles and dark matter, the media outlet stated.
Pauline Gagnon, a researcher on the Atlas set of experiments in Geneva, recently stated that the observed particle has all the callsigns of the elusive Higgs boson, and that it "sings and dances" just like the theoretical particle.
"There is no doubt it comes from a different signal, different channels, with different experiments," she said. "We just need in the next few months with more data to ascertain exactly what are the properties of this particle to see if it is exactly the Standard Model Higgs boson or some variation of it."
According to The Los Angeles Times, engineering research shows the LHC has been spitting out data at a rate that no one believed was possible as recently as February. In the short period since June, the LHC as created as many proton-on-proton collisions as it did in all of 2011: A staggering 400 trillion.
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