GENEVA (AP) â€“ To cheers and standing ovations from scientists, the world’s biggest atom smasher claimed the discovery of a new subatomic particle Wednesday, calling it “consistent” with the long-sought Higgs boson â€” popularly known as the “God particle” â€” that helps explain what gives all matter in the universe size and shape.
“We have now found the missing cornerstone of particle physics,” Rolf Heuer, director of the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN), told scientists.
He said the newly discovered subatomic particle is a boson, but he stopped just shy of claiming outright that it is the Higgs boson itself â€” an extremely fine distinction.
“As a layman, I think we did it,” he told the elated crowd. “We have a discovery. We have observed a new particle that is consistent with a Higgs boson.”
The Higgs boson, which until now has been a theoretical particle, is seen as the key to understanding why matter has mass, which combines with gravity to give an object weight. The idea is much like gravity andÂ Isaac Newton‘s discovery of it: Gravity was there all the time before Newton explained it. But now scientists have seen something very much like the Higgs boson and can put that knowledge to further use.
CERN’s atom smasher, the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border, has been creating high-energy collisions of protons to investigate dark matter, antimatter and the creation of the universe, which many theorize occurred in a massive explosion known as theÂ Big Bang.
Two independent teams at CERN said Wednesday they have both “observed” a new subatomic particle â€” a boson. Heuer called it “most probably a Higgs boson, but we have to find out what kind of Higgs boson it is. ”
Asked whether the find is a discovery, Heuer answered, “As a layman, I think we have it. But as a scientist, I have to say, “‘What do we have?'”
“It is consistent with a Higgs boson as is needed for the standard model,” Heuer said. “We can only call it a Higgs boson â€” not the Higgs boson.”
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