Thursday, March 14, 2013

New Results Reaffirm Physicists Faith in 'God Particle'

The search is all but over for a subatomic particle that is a crucial building block of the universe.

Physicists announced Thursday they believe they have discovered the subatomic particle predicted nearly a half-century ago, which will go a long way toward explaining what gives electrons and all matter in the universe size and shape.

The elusive particle, called a Higgs boson, was predicted in 1964 to help fill in our understanding of the creation of the universe, which many theorize occurred in a massive explosion known as the Big Bang. The particle was named for Peter Higgs, one of the physicists who proposed its existence, but it later became popularly known as the "God particle."
As in "Boy, it going to be hard to find that God Damned Particle. Do you think they'll ever give us enough money?"

Apparently, someone did.  At least it was CERN (European) taxpayers that came up with the bulk of it.
"The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson, though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is," said Joe Incandela, a physicist who heads one of the two main teams at CERN, each involving several thousand scientists.
So there's more than one kind of Higg's Boson?  Are they like State Quarters?  Do they need to collect the whole set? I thought maybe this was the end, and they could turn the collider tunnels into a theme park, or a dungeon or something.
Whether or not it is a Higgs boson is demonstrated by how it interacts with other particles and its quantum properties, CERN said in the statement. After checking, scientists said the data "strongly indicates that it is a Higgs boson."
Or maybe a few stray flies got into the collider, and got lit up by the particle streams as they crossed.
CERN's atom smasher, the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider that lies beneath the Swiss-French border, has been creating high-energy collisions of protons to investigate how the universe came to be the way it is.
Last time the Higg's Boson was in the news, I calculated the cost of the particle by the ounce.  I won't repeat that exercise, as it was pretty depressing.  It makes those yahoos digging for gold in Alaska seem sensible.

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