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April 08, 2008

New Supercollider Might Reveal "God Particle," Hypothetical Particle Containing Nothing But Mass

But probably not.

The 40-year hunt for the holy grail of physics – the elusive “God particle” that is supposed to give matter its mass – is almost over, according to the leading scientist who first came up with the theory.

Peter Higgs, whose work gave his name to the elusive Higgs boson particle, said that he was more than 90 per cent certain it would be found within the next few years.

The Higgs boson was the professor’s elegant 1964 solution to one of the great problems with the standard model of physics – how matter has mass and thus exists in a form that allows it to make stars, planets and people. He proposed that the universe is pervaded by an invisible field of bosons that consist of mass but little else.

As particles move through this field, bosons effectively stick to some of them, making them more massive, while leaving others to pass unhindered. Photons, light particles that have no mass, are not affected by the Higgs field at all.

The mysterious boson postulated by Professor Higgs, of the University of Edinburgh, has become so fundamental to physics that it is often nicknamed the “God particle”. After more than 40 years of research, and billions of pounds, scientists have yet to prove that it is real. But Professor Higgs, 78, now believes the search is nearly over.

A new atom-smasher that will be switched on near Geneva later this year is virtually guaranteed to find it, he said. It is even possible that the critical evidence already exists, in data from an American experiment in Illinois that has yet to be analysed fully.

...

Tantalising glimpses of the boson from other, less powerful particle accelerators, have suggested that unequivocal evidence should emerge almost immediately when the LHC begins its experiments.

The Higgs boson is hard to detect because it is hypothesised to exist only at very high energies, which last existed in nature in the moments after the Big Bang, hence the need for an atom smasher.

And after that, anti-gravity, warp drives, direct mass to energy conversion, and, dare to dream, that Flyin' Car I've been waiting on all my life.


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posted by Ace at 09:44 AM

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