This is as big as the, well, big bang theory: Scientists working at the world's largest atom smasher say they have enough evidence of the long-sought-after Higgs boson.
To the layman, the Higgs boson is the "God particle" and a key puzzle piece in the scientific explanation of the origin of the universe. Physicists around the globe—and perhaps elsewhere, given the size of the universe—have invested billions of dollars in research and have been hunting for the Higgs boson for decades.
Researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (or CERN) are expected to announce Wednesday that they have proof of its existence, reports The Associated Press.
The Higgs boson appeared 13.7 billion years ago in the chaos of the Big Bang and turned the flying debris into galaxies, stars and planets.
Its formal discovery, according to a broad scientific consensus, would be the greatest advance in knowledge of the universe in decades and a key to confirming the standard model of physics that explains what gives mass to matter and, by extension, how the universe was formed, according to the AP.
"We think the Higgs boson is a manifestation of the fact that the universe is filled with a force that we haven't been able to detect yet that gives other particles mass," Lykken told NPR. "It exists for a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a second, or something like that, and then falls apart into other particles."
Thus, scientists are in a bit of a quagmire, according to the AP. While they appear to have enough evidence to report the existence of the "God particle," they still hedge on whether to report "a discovery." It's a fine line, indeed, but one that scientists will likely continue to debate.
"I agree that any reasonable outside observer would say, 'It looks like a discovery,'" British theoretical physicist John Ellis, a professor at King's College London who has worked at CERN since the 1970s, told The Associated Press. "We've discovered something which is consistent with being a Higgs."
Oh, those wacky scientists.
- Higgs boson