It was Higgs who first proposed in 1964, that particles acquire mass by interacting with a field that pervades the entire universe.The field he proposed with five other colleagues, which came to be known as the Higgs field
, in association with the particle that transmits its effect, explains why some particles are more massive than others. Digital Journal
reports that scientists describe the Higgs field as an energy field that spreads out in the whole universe. Particles moving in the Higgs field experience it as a kind of sticky molasses that slows them down and keeps them from moving at the speed of light. Without the slowing down effect of the Higgs field, particles would travel through space at the speed of light and would, therefore, be unable to bind together to form atoms that make up material objects in the universe.
The formal announcement that the Higgs boson has been identified at the benchmark 5-sigma level of statistical certainty, equivalent to 99.99994% level of certainty, came on Wednesday at a seminar at the Geneva Headquarters of CERN
. According to Daily Mail
, it is latest piece of the jigsaw puzzle that indicates that scientists' view of the universe is substantially right. Daily Mail
reports that at the announcement, the audience rose in a standing ovation to celebrate the find, the culmination of decades of painstaking search using the Large Hadron Collider
and the Tevatron
CERN scientists announced their first glimpse of the Higgs boson in December and since then they have been patiently sifting through the mass of statistical data for definitive evidence.
Although the scientists insist that the work done so far to identify the new particle is preliminary, there are generally confident that its properties are consistent with the proposed boson.
According to the Herald Sun
, confirming the existence of the Higgs boson, popularly called the "God particle," is vital to the Standard Model of particle physics
widely accepted in scientific circles. The Higgs boson is the particle that gives matter mas and consequently weight. Without it the Standard Model collapses. Scientists say that evidence that Higgs boson does not exist would mean that physicists will need to do an extensive review of their theoretical understanding of how nature works at the small scale.
But on Wednesday, scientists working with the Large Hadron collider in CERN, said that two of the LHC's detectors, the Atlas and the CMS, have returned results that actually reached the 5-sigma level, the gold standard of evidence in particle physics.
According to the Herald Sun
, the sigma measures how likely it is that a statistical pattern is chance. At a 5-sigma level, the chance that the statistical pattern is fluke is one in a million.
According to CERN, in a press release
, the ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti, said: "We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, but a little more time is needed to prepare these results for publication."
According to CMS experiment spokesman Joe Incandela ,"This is indeed a new particle. This is something that may in the end be one of the biggest discoveries or observations of any new phenomena that we’ve had in our field in the last 30 or 40 years."
Incandela said: "The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found.The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks."
According to the CERN press release
: "The next step will be to determine the precise nature of the particle and its significance for our understanding of the universe. Are its properties as expected for the long-sought Higgs boson, the final missing ingredient in the Standard Model of particle physics? Or is it something more exotic? The Standard Model describes the fundamental particles from which we, and every visible thing in the universe, are made, and the forces acting between them. All the matter that we can see, however, appears to be no more than about 4% of the total. A more exotic version of the Higgs particle could be a bridge to understanding the 96% of the universe that remains obscure."
CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci, said, "It’s hard not to get excited by these results. We stated last year that in 2012 we would either find a new Higgs-like particle or exclude the existence of the Standard Model Higgs. With all the necessary caution, it looks to me that we are at a branching point."
Professor Peter Higgs, who first proposed existence of the boson, attended the Geneva seminar. Reports say Higgs appeared to wipe away a tear when the findings were announced. Herald Sun
reports he later said: "I would like to add my congratulations to everyone involved in this achievement. It's really an incredible thing that it's happened in my lifetime."
He told the BBC
: "I'm rather surprised that it happened in my lifetime - I certainly had no idea it would happen in my lifetime at the beginning, more than 40 years ago, because at the beginning people had no idea about where to look for it, so it's really amazing for me to find out that it's really enough... for a discovery claim. I think it shows amazing dedication by the young people involved with these colossal collaborations to persist in this way, on what is a really a very difficult task. I congratulate them."
reports that Higgs' colleagues are now calling for him to be honored with knighthood or a Nobel Prize in recognition of his contribution to the physics. The Telegraph
reports he made the proposal in a paper co-authored with five other theoretical physicists--Francois Engelbert, Robert Brout, Gerald Guralnik, C.R. Hagen and Tom Kibble.
According to The Telegraph
, Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey, said: “Of all the people worthy of a knighthood I cannot think of anyone more deserving right now than Peter Higgs. His incredible prediction almost half a century ago of the existence of a new particle that bears his name has turned out to be correct and will surely now revolutionise physics. “
Gerry Guralnik, one of the six physicists who proposed the idea of the Higgs Boson in 1954, said: "He should be [knighted]. He has made a great contribution to what looks like a great discovery."
Prof Joe Incandela, spokesman for the CMS Experiment at CERN, also added his voice: "He should definitely get a knighthood. All these guys [the theorists who proposed the Higgs] should be recognised for coming up with this theory 50 years ago. If it was up to me they would all get the Nobel Prize."