Lewis Carroll's poem The Hunting of the Snark was once called "the impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature". That's a good description of the search for the Higgs boson, now in its fifth decade. The object of the quest, an infinitesimal particle, may not even exist, but the hunt goes on.
Planted in us, too deep for memory, are the instincts of the hunter-gatherers we once were. We find it easy to combine with others in common enterprise, co-ordinating individual efforts in the pursuit of our prey. Thus yesterday hundreds of physicists crowded into a room at Cern, the particle physics laboratory, in Switzerland. So many others tried to follow through the online feed that it crashed.
Did the evidence laid before them prove the particle's existence? No, but the game's still afoot and a great pack of humanity, including some of our finest minds, still presses on its trail.Reuse content