July 12, 2012
By Ker Than
"I think we have it. You agree?"
Speaking to a packed audience Wednesday morning in Geneva, CERN director general Rolf Heuer confirmed that two separate teams working at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are more than 99 percent certain they've discovered the Higgs boson, aka the God particle—or at the least a brand-new particle exactly where they expected the Higgs to be.
The long-sought particle may complete the standard model of physics by explaining why objects in our universe have mass—and in so doing, why galaxies, planets, and even humans have any right to exist.
"We have a discovery," Heuer said at the seminar. "We have observed a new particle consistent with a Higgs boson."
At the meeting were four theorists who helped develop the Higgs theory in the 1960s, including Peter Higgs himself, who could be seen wiping away tears as the announcement was made.
Although preliminary, the results show a so-called five-sigma of significance, which means that there is only a one in a million chance that the Higgs-like signal the teams observed is a statistical fluke....
"It was interesting that the competing experiment essentially had the same result," said physicist Ryszard Stroynowski, an ATLAS team member based at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "It provides additional confirmation."...