For decades, physicists have been searching for the elusive Higgs Boson, the elementary particle which will either confirm or deny the Standard Model of participle physics. This theory, in essence, is a unifying principle that explains how three of the four fundamental forces of the universe – electromagnetism, weak nuclear forces, and strong nuclear forces – interact. Intrinsic to it all is the understanding that all matter, at its most basic level, is constructed out of sub-atomic elementary particles. These particles, such as quarks, electrons, and neutrinos, endow all matter with its most basic properties.
Thanks to growing research in the fields of astrophysics, thermodynamics, quantum theory and particle physics, most of the elementary particles needed to make this model work have been discovered. Only one – the Higgs Boson, aka. “The God Particle” – remained to be found. Given that it is this particle which explains why other elementary particles have mass, its existence needed to be confirmed to make the model work. For decades, it has remained theoretical, but all that may have finally changed.
As of this morning, July 4th, 2012, physicists working with the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland believe they have finally found it! That is to say that the CERN Laboratory (European Organization for Nuclear Research) announced the formal confirmation that a particle “consistent with the Higgs boson” exists with a very high likelihood of 99.99994%. However, scientists still need to verify that it is indeed the expected boson and not some other new particle.
In other words, we may be one step closer to (as Stephen Hawking said) “Understanding The Mind of God”. Which, given the alternative – that there are more elementary particles than the Standard Model accounts for – is good news indeed. Given that scientists still haven’t come up with a solid Grand Unifying theory, which would explain how all four basic forces of the universe interact with each other (electromagnetism, weak and strong nuclear forces and gravity), knowing that we can at least account for three would be good news indeed!
In the meantime, check out this video explaining more about the search for the “God Particle”:
Seeking “God Particle” (CBC.ca)