Geneva: In one of the most significant scientific discoveries ever, two independent teams of scientists announced on Wednesday the discovery of a new subatomic particle that has close resemblance to the elusive Higgs boson or ‘God Particle’.
Joe Incandela, spokesperson for CMS, one of the two research teams, told scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) that the data from Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has reached the level of certainty needed for a discovery.
Although the new subatomic particle looks like the one that is believed to give all matter in the universe size and shape, Incandela did not confirm whether the new particle is indeed the tiny and elusive Higgs boson, popularly referred to as the ‘God Particle’.
“We have observed a new boson with a mass of 125.3 plus or minus 0.6 GeV at 4.9 sigma standard deviation. This is a preliminary result, but we think it's very strong and very solid,” announced Joseph Incandela to a round of applause.
“When they combine the results for two decay channels they get Five Sigma for the Higgs. Combined significance of all results 5 standard deviations,” Incandela, who also teaches at the University of California Santa Barbara, said.
In simple terms: CMS discovered a new boson which behaves like the Standard Model Higgs.
Fabiola Gianotti of ATLAS, the other team at the world's biggest atom smasher, announced that they have similar results at around 126 Gev with 5 sigma certainty.
Five Sigma is the usual particle physics threshold for discovery; it translates to 99.99997% certainty of discovery of a new particle.
The new particle, if confirmed with further research, would have a mass 130 times that of a proton, making it the most massive particle that exists.
What is Higgs boson?
The Higgs boson was hunted so determinedly because it is believed to be the manifestation of an invisible field - the Higgs field that permeates through the entire universe.
According to the theory, Higgs boson was the agent that made the stars, planets - and life - possible by giving mass to most elementary particles, the building blocks of the universe; hence the nickname "God Particle."
Considered the last ingredient of the ‘standard model’ of particle physics, the discovery of Higgs boson is expected to play a pivotal role in solving the fundamental questions about the formation of the universe.
Higgs boson gives the particles their mass. Without this mass, these particles would zip though the cosmos at the speed of light, unable to bind together to form the atoms that make up everything in the universe.
The field was posited in the 1960s by British scientist Peter Higgs, of University of Edinburgh, as the way that matter obtained mass after the universe was created in the Big Bang. Peter Higgs was personally present in Geneva when the discovery of the boson named after him was announced.
The Higgs boson was discovered by smashing beams of protons - sub-atomic particles - together at close to the speed of light, recreating the conditions as it were a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.
The protons were smashed inside the Large Hadron Collider, which is the largest and most complex machine ever made. It has a circumference of 27 km (17 miles) and lies underground, straddling French and Swiss territory.
First Published: Wednesday, July 04, 2012, 13:25