Scientists closer to declaring discovery the 'God Particle'

CERN physicists say new data leads them closer to saying particle is Higgs boson

New data is bringing scientists much closer to proving that a particle discovered in the Large Hadron Collider last year is the elusive Higgs boson.

Scientists with the collider said they have analyzed two and a half times more data than was available to them last summer when they initially announced the particle find. And the more they analyze, the more likely they think the new particle actually is a Higgs boson.

"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 professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a researcher at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

Last summer, CERN researchers announced the discovery of a new particle and said early indications pointed to it being the Higgs boson, which has such great mystery and scientific importance that it has been dubbed the God particle.

The Higgs boson is a theoretical sub-atomic particle that is considered to be the reason everything has mass. Basically, without mass -- without the Higgs boson -- there would be no structure, no weight, to anything.

For at least four decades, scientists have hunted for the particle, which has become a cornerstone of physics theory.

Today's announcement was made at the Moriond Conference, a physics event held in Italy.

What scientists are focusing on now is what kind of Higgs boson this newly found particle might be. It could be what is called a Standard Model of particle physics or it could be something different that goes beyond the Standard Model in some theories.

CERN noted that to figure out whether this is a Standard Model Higgs boson, scientists will measure how quickly it decays into other particles and then compare the results to theoretical predictions.

The Large Hadron Collider, which includes a 17-mile underground loop on the border of France and Switzerland, was shut down last month for a two-year overhaul. The collider won't run any particle collisions until 2015 although the CERN lab is set to be back up in the second half of 2014

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at  @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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