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Big Bang
The ‘God’ of all particles is here, almost
CERN scientists spot sub-atomic particle

Geneva, July 4
In a 'quantum' leap in physics, scientists today claimed to have spotted a sub-atomic particle "consistent" with the Higgs boson or 'God particle', believed to be a crucial building block that led to the formation of the universe.

big bang: The Higgs Boson

Scientists at Switzerland's CERN research centre made the historic announcement, in a major milestone in the 50-year search for the elusive Higgs, that is believed to have been responsible for lending mass to the particles that eventually formed the stars and the planets after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. "We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature," said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer.

"The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle's properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our Universe," Heuer said. Joe Incandela, the leader of CMS, one of the two teams at the world's biggest atom smasher, told a packed audience of scientists at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) that the data has reached the level of certainty needed for a "discovery".

But he did not yet confirm that the new particle is indeed the tiny and elusive Higgs boson, which is believed to give all matter in the universe size and shape.

A second team of physicists ATLAS also claimed they have observed a new particle, probably the elusive Higgs boson.

"We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV," said ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti, "but a little more time is needed to prepare these results for publication".

A five sigma, that translates into over 99 per cent certainty of discovery, is required before a particle is declared as being discovered. Plus, the Higgs is believed to lurk at the lower ends of the energy spectrum -- between 120 and 140 GeV.

The particle was hypothesised in 1964 by six physicists, including Briton Peter Higgs, whose name it came to bear. The announcements today was made to huge applause by scientists including Higgs.

Higgs said in a statement said: "I never expected this to happen in my lifetime and shall be asking my family to put some champagne in the fridge." CERN said the particle they found at LHC is "consistent with (the) long-sought Higgs boson," but more data was needed to identify the find.

Boson, on the other hand, is derived from the surname of Indian physicist, Satyendra Nath Bose, a contemporary of Albert Einstein. Bose's work on Quantum Mechanics was adopted by Einstein, who extended it to the concept of the Bose-Einstein condensate -- a dense collection of bosons, sub-atomic particles with integer spin. For 50 years, finding the missing Higgs was one of the most puzzling riddles of Quantum Physics, and led scientists to set up the 3 billion euros Large Hadron Collider, the world's biggest and most powerful particle accelerator.

The 27-km looped pipe set up in a tunnel 100 metres underground on the Switzerland-France border created artificially simulated conditions similar to the Big Bang, triggering collisions between accelerated particles. In the LHC experiment, two beams of protons are fired in opposite directions to smash millions of particles into each other every second, a set up that recreats conditions that existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.

This is the time when the Higgs field is believed to have come into play. The Higgs particles are believed to have transferred mass to the millions of other particles in the process of creation of the universe

The scientists then look into conditions that might point to the existence of the mysterious particle. As the Higgs cannot be seen, its existence is only to be inferred from circumstances.

The Standard Model -- a hypothesis devised in the 1970s to explain the events after the Big Bang -- identifies the building blocks for matter. Finding the Higgs particle would validate the Standard Model that is a hugely successful theory but has several gaps, the biggest of which is why some particles have mass but others do not.

Without the Higgs boson, the universe could not exist, as everything would behave as light does, floating freely and not combining with anything else, the scientists believe. CERN's data was kept closely guarded but just before the official announcement a video from the CERN centre that mistakenly found its way on the web, appeared to have given away the secret. "We've observed a new particle," Incandela was seen as saying in the video that appeared on the Science News website before being picked up elsewhere. — PTI


The Indian footprint

Kolkata/Geneva: Discovery of a new sub-atomic particle that is crucial to understanding how the universe is built has an intrinsic Indian connection. A large number of Indian scientists, representing the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics(SINP), Kolkata, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, Harishchandra Research Institute, Allahabad and Institute of Physics, Bhubaneswar, were involved in the world's most ambitious experiment



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