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CERN researchers prepare to announce a glimpse of the “God particle”




A general view of the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear research) on February 12, 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland.
A general view of the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear research) on February 12, 2009 in Geneva, Switzerland.
Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

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Its sexy physics name is the Higgs boson, but it better known outside the lab as “The God particle.” The reason that this miniscule subatomic particle has acquired such an awe-inspiring name is that scientists have spent 50 years and tens of billions of dollars looking for it… and because physicists suspect that the heretofore theoretical particle is what gives other particles most of their mass. At the subatomic level, mass is a measure of energy, and the elusive Higgs boson is thought to be one of the heaviest particles in the known universe.

At the subatomic level, mass is a measure of energy, and the elusive Higgs boson is thought to be one of the heaviest particles the known universe. Why all the fuss? Confirming the existence of the Higgs boson would provide researchers with the final piece of the puzzle of the existing Standard Model of particle physics – the model that describes the behavior and properties of every known particle.

WEIGH IN:

What does the potential discovery of the Higgs boson mean for the world of physics? Is the U.S. falling behind in the study of subatomic particles?

Guests:

Joe Incandela, deputy spokesperson, Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, CERN, professor of physics, UC Santa Barbara

Maria Spiropulu, research physicist staff at CERN, physics professor, Cal Tech