Scientists at the CERN nuclear research facility have almost certainly found the Higgs boson, the so-called 'God particle', they have announced.
On Wednesday morning the leaders of the experiments running through the giant Large Hadron Collider (LHC) said they their two teams had independently observed a particle consistent with the Higgs, which has until now been theoretical rather than a sure thing. The Higgs boson is thought to be responsible for mass in the otherwise-already-proven standard model of physics.
"We have observed a new boson," Joe Incandela, leader of the CMS experiment said at a press conference in Geneva, explaining that the particle's mass of 126 GeV was consistent with that of the predicted Higgs boson. He noted earlier that the result he was about to reveal was "very, very preliminary", but "very strong, very solid, otherwise we wouldn't present it."Scientists at CERN say they have observed the Higgs boson, using the Large Hadron Collider. Image credit: CERN
"These results are now global and shared with all of mankind," Incandela, who is American, added.
The scientists say they have more than 'five-sigma' certainty that the particle they saw was the Higgs boson, which means they are 99.99999 percent sure of their conclusions.
"We all have to be proud of these results and I hope that they open a door towards a very bright future," Fabiola Gianotti, leader of the ATLAS experiment, said.
The revelation comes days after US scientists working at Fermilab said their experiments with Tevatron, a less powerful particle accelerator that was otherwise similar to the LHC, had strongly suggested that the high-mass particle did exist.
"It's hard not to get excited by these results," CERN sesearch director Sergio Bertolucci said in a statement. "We stated last year that in 2012 we would either find a new Higgs-like particle or exclude the existence of the Standard Model Higgs. With all the necessary caution, it looks to me that we are at a branching point: the observation of this new particle indicates the path for the future towards a more detailed understanding of what we're seeing in the data."
CERN said last year that it had found traces of the Higgs boson, but was not sure. The facility ramped up the power of the LHC early this year, a move they said would speed up the search for the elusive particle.
"It's the last month of running that did it," Incandela said.
The Higgs boson was predicted by Edinburgh-based particle physicist Peter Higgs in the mid-1960s. Higgs was in the audience at Wednesday morning's press conference.