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article imageStephen Hawking lost $100 bet over discovery of 'God particle'

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jul 5, 2012 in Science
Geneva - Following announcement of the discovery of a new particle "consistent" with the theoretical Higgs boson, the renowned British physicist Stephen Hawking has called for a Nobel Prize to be awarded to Peter Higgs who proposed the existence of the particle.
Herald Sun reports that the retired Cambridge University professor joked that the discovery of the Higgs boson cost him a $100 bet. Speaking with the BBC on Wednesday, Professor Hawking said: "This is an important result and should earn Peter Higgs the Nobel Prize. But it is a pity in a way because the great advances in physics have come from experiments that gave results we didn't expect. For this reason I had a bet with Gordon Kane of Michigan University that the Higgs particle wouldn't be found. It seems I have just lost $100."
Hawking added: "If the decay and other interactions of this particle are as we expect, it will be strong evidence for the so-called standard model of particle physics, the theory that explains all our experiments so far."
According to the Herald Sun, scientists say that the discovery is a major milestone in the scientific understanding of nature. But scientists are now looking forward, following the initial excitement, to confirming whether the properties of the new particle discovery are exactly the same as theory predicted or whether it is even a more "exotic" particle than expected given, especially, the unsolved riddle of dark matter and energy in the universe.
The Huffington Post reports, however, that so far, the new particle appears to have many of the properties theory predicts the Higg boson should have. But scientists are being characteristically cautious. Rolf Heuer, director of CERN, stopped just short of saying plainly that the Higgs boson has been discovered. He only said that a boson consistent with the properties of the Higgs boson has been discovered. The Huffington Post reports he said: "As a layman, I think we did it. We have a discovery. We have observed a new particle that is consistent with a Higgs boson."
According to Steven Weinberg, professor of physics at the University of Texas: "It's clear there's a great deal more to be done experimentally, even after they announce a discovery." Weinberg added: "I find it a very depressing prospect, the possibility that this may be the last great discovery for many decades."
Tara Shears, CERN scientist, said: "Seeing something new is really the beginning of this long journey to understand what on Earth it is that you have seen. It's like turning up to a railway station to pick someone up who you've never met before. You arrive at the station, the train comes in, and there's someone standing on the platform. You're guessing it's them, but you're not going to know until you walk up and check who they are."
The Herald Sun reports that CERN's director general Rolf Heuer, said: "We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature. The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle's properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe."
Physicists at CERN have been working for decades to detect the elusive Higgs boson using the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider particle accelerator, 100 metres underground near Geneva, and the Tevatron in the US. The LHC accelerates protons to close to the speed of light around the circular 27-kilometer (17-mile) creating high-energy collisions that reproduce the conditions shortly after the Big Bang. The particles generated by the collisions exist for only an instant before they decay into other particles whose presence are used to infer the original particles created in the collisions.
Digital Journal reports that the Higgs boson, or any variant of its theoretical form, is of importance to the Standard Model of particle physics because it explains how particles acquired mass and consequently weight.
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