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God Particle

Posted by feww on April 10, 2008


Physicist says “God particle” will be found soon

Peter Higgs, a British physicist, believes scientists can soon prove the existence of a force which gives mass to the universe and makes life possible, a theory he first published 40 years ago.

Higgs, 78, believes a particle called the “Higgs boson” [nicknamed the “God particle” much to his chagrin as he is an atheist] will be found when a vast particle collider at the CERN research center in Switzerland kicks into full gear early 2009.

“The likelihood is that the particle will show up pretty quickly … I’m more than 90 percent certain that it will,” Higgs told reporters.

In the 1960s, the scientists at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) had dismissed Higgs’s theory, which explained why the force, named the Higgs field, must exist.

Today, the scientists widely accept the existence of the invisible field, which they believe came into being several milliseconds after the Big Bang created the universe about 13.73 billion years ago [the age of universe has an uncertainty of about 120 million years.]

Ordinary matter in our universe is made up of atoms. Each atom includes a nucleus composed of protons and neutrons, surrounded by a cloud of electrons. Protons and neutrons are in turn made of quarks, which are bound together by other particles called gluons. The bounds are so strong they have prevented quarks from existing on their own since just after big bang.

Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN will simulate conditions at the time of big bang. Particles colliding at near light speed will generate temperatures 100,000 times hotter than the sun, which would melt protons and neutrons, breaking the quark-gluon bonds and creating a state of matter called quark-gluon plasma. The project collaborators hope that by studying the quark-gluon plasma, as it expands and cools, they can uncover the mysteries of universe.

Higgs, who taught at Scotland’s Edinburgh University, postulated that matter was weightless at the exact moment of the Big Bang, but most of it quickly gained mass because of the presence of a field that combined with the particles as they passed through it.

LHC Particle Collider at CERN. Image may be copyrighted. See FEWW Fair Use Notice.
CERN is currently building the Large Hadron Collider, or LHC. This massive collider is being installed in a tunnel 27 km in circumference. CERN claims by studying collisions at very high energies its physicists could make progress in understanding the mysteries of how universe was born.

It is not known how long it might take to analyze the big bang simulation data, despite using bleeding edge supercomputers, before any evidence of the god particle could be found.

“I may have to keep the champagne on ice for a while yet.” Said Higgs.

“It all happens so fast that the appearance of the boson may be hidden in the data collected, and it could take a long time for the analysis to find it,” said Higgs. “If it doesn’t,” he said, “I shall be very, very puzzled.” Report

Cost of LHC Project: About $10 billion.

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