Scientists at CERN, home of the world’s biggest atom smasher, are expected to announce at a Melbourne conference today that they have nearly confirmed the existence of the so-called “God particle”, the elusive Higgs boson.Scientists at CERN, home of the world’s biggest atom smasher, are expected to announce at a Melbourne conference today that they have nearly confirmed the existence of the so-called “God particle”, the elusive Higgs boson.
A similar – and simultaneous – announcement is expected at the headquarters of CERN (the European Organisation for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, with both announcements timed for 5pm AEST. The Melbourne event, the International Conference on High Energy Physics, opens today at the Melbourne Convention Centre and runs until July 11.
The Higgs boson, long sought by physicists, is believed to be a subatomic particle that gives all matter in the universe size, shape and mass. Its existence was first postulated by Scottish physicist Peter Higgs and a number of other physicists in the 1960s.
Trying to track the boson down is one of the main objectives of CERN’s $10 billion Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border.
Researchers at CERN have told some sections of the UK and US press that they have compiled vast amounts of data that show the “footprint” and “shadow” of the particle, even though it has not actually been glimpsed.
But they don’t plan to use the word “discovery.” They say they will come as close as possible to a “eureka” announcement without overstating their findings, according to an Associated Press report.
Two rival teams — known as CMS and Atlas — have been conducting separate experiments in a bid to track the boson. To be sure that they have detected it, both teams must reach a level of certainty known as “five-sigma” – meaning there is less than a one in 1.7 million chance that they are wrong.
Following on from today’s announcements, the two teams plan to publicly unveil more data at physics meetings in October and December
Sean Carroll, a California Institute of Technology physicist flying to Geneva for today’s announcement, said that if both Atlas and CMS have independently reached the five-sigma threshold on the Higgs boson, then “only the most curmudgeonly will not believe that they have found it.”
The Higgs announcement and a question-and-answer session with CERN scientists will be streamed live at http://webcast.web.cern.ch.