Have they found the Higgs boson at last? Cern physicists say they're confident of breakthrough

 

A new sub-atomic particle that could explain one of the great mysteries of the Universe – why matter has mass – has almost certainly been found according to further evidence supporting the discovery of the elusive Higgs boson.

Scientists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) in Geneva said yesterday they are increasingly confident that they have finally found the Higgs particle nearly 50 years after it was first proposed by Professor Peter Higgs of Edinburgh University.

Further analysis of data gathered by Cern’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) show that the new sub-atomic particle announced last summer bears one of the classic signatures of the proposed Higgs boson – it does not spin or rotate like all other known sub-atomic particles.

The fact that this new particle is “spin zero”, combined with further evidence based on the way it decays into other known sub-atomic particles, is a convincing indication that it is indeed the Higgs boson, said Professor Dave Charlton of Birmingham University, a spokesman for the LHC’s Atlas experiment.

“It looks more and more likely that we really have found the Higgs particle, although it’s always difficult to say this with absolute certainty. Most physicists would now agree that this is probably the Higgs,” Professor Charlton said.

Professor Higgs, along with other colleagues, first suggested in the 1960s that a sub-atomic particle must pervade the Universe and create an invisible field on which matter interacts to give it mass, whether it is people or planets.

It has only been in recent years that particle physicists have been able to build a particle accelerator big enough to produce the energies needed to create the sort of sub-atomic collisions that would shake out the Higgs particle to reveal its identity.

The LHC produced enough high-energy collisions for physicists to begin to see tantalising hints of the Higgs last summer. Since then, that have trawled through the data to produce further evidence, released today at the Moriond Conference in La Thuile, Italy.

“The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is,” said Joe Incandela, a spokesman for the CMS experiment on the LHC.

The Standard Model of physics, which attempts to unify many of the disparate forces of nature, from weak electrostatic interactions to the strong nuclear forces at the heart of the atom, suggests that the Higgs will have certain properties. But further work is needed to see whether the new particle conforms to this prediction, Professor Charlton said.

“The spin-zero finding tells us it is a Higgs particle but the question of whether it is the Standard Model Higgs or a more exotic particle remains open. We’ve only just started down that road, although at the moment it is consistent with the Standard Model,” Professor Charlton said.

Geoff Hall, professor of physics at Imperial College in London said: “The results are an indication of further excellent progress with the analysis of the data taken last year and the superb performance of the LHC accelerator and experiments. Nothing has emerged which conflicts with the assignment of the new particle as a Higgs boson.”

Arts and Entertainment
The first film introduced Daniel Radcliffe to our screens, pictured here as he prepares to board the train to Hogwarts for the first time.
booksHow reading Harry Potter helps children grow up to be gay-friendly
Sport
Frank Lampard will pass Billy Wright and equal Bobby Charton’s caps tally of 106 caps against
sportFormer Chelsea midfielder in Etihad stopgap before New York contract
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Aladdin is performed at the Tony Awards in New York in June
theatreBrit producer Lythgoe makes kids' musical comedy a Los Angeles hit
Sport
Usain Bolt of Jamaica smiles and shakes hands with a competitor after Jamaica won their first heat in the men's 4x100m relay
sport
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm actor was just 68
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

(Senior) IT Support Engineer - 1st-3rd Line Support

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful IT service provider that has bee...

Wind Farm Civil Design Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principal Marine Mechanical Engineer

£60000 - £70000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Principle Geotechnical Engineer

£55000 - £65000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices