Riddle of 'God particle' may be solved by 2012

2011-05-17 20:15

London - Physicists said on Tuesday they believed that by the end of 2012 they could determine whether a theorised particle called the Higgs boson, which has unleashed a gruelling decades-long hunt, exists or not.

"I'm pretty confident that towards the end of 2012 we will have an answer to the Shakespeare question for the Higgs boson - to be, or not to be?" Rolf-Dieter Heuer, director general of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern), told a press conference at Britain's Royal Society.

Cern runs the world's biggest particle collider, located on the outskirts of Geneva.

One of the first tasks assigned to the giant machine has been to step up the quest for the Higgs to resolve one of physics' great puzzles: why some particles have mass and others have little, or none.

The Higgs - named after British physicist Peter Higgs who mooted its existence in 1964 - is one of the last missing pieces in the so-called Standard Model, a unified theory of all the particles and forces in the universe.

To be, or not to be?

"By the end of 2012 we will either discover the Standard Model Higgs Boson, if it exists, or we will rule it out," said Fabiola Gianotti, who is the spokesperson for Cern's biggest particle-collider lab called Atlas.

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is located in a 27km ring-shaped tunnel 100m below ground in a complex straddling the French-Swiss border.

It is designed to accelerate sub-atomic particles to nearly the speed of light and then smash them together.

The particles whizz around the racetrack in opposite directions, and powerful magnets then bend their direction so that some of the particles are forced to collide in house-sized labs that record the sub-atomic rubble that tumbles out.

Collisions briefly stoke temperatures 100 000 times hotter than the sun, fleetingly replicating conditions which prevailed in split-seconds after the "Big Bang" that created the universe 13.7 billion years ago.


In this primordial soup, novel particles may lurk that will resolve mysteries clouding our understanding of fundamental matter, scientists say.

Enigmas include the Higgs - dubbed "the God particle" for being mysterious yet ubiquitous - as well as suspected "supersymmetrical" particles that could explain dark matter, which comprises about 23% of the universe.

The first proton collisions at the LHC occurred on September 10 2008. The smasher then had to endure a 14-month shutdown to fix technical problems.

The LHC recently notched up the biggest-ever energy release from particle collisions, although this is still only half of its design capacity.

It was due to shut down at the start of 2012 to allow work enabling it to crank up to full power.

However, a decision was made several weeks ago to delay the closure for a year to help the search for the Higgs, said Gianotti.

  • oxygen - 2011-05-17 20:42


  • Hans - 2011-05-17 20:42

    Human ingenuity? Amazing! God: look on and smile!

      kidblack - 2011-05-17 21:39

      dont smile. the boson does not exist.

      capetonian - 2011-07-26 07:50

      So what qualifies you to make that comment kidblack?

  • - 2011-05-17 20:47

    "in house-sized labs that record the sub-atomic rubble that tumbles out." Such an elegant way of describing mankind's most complex experiment to date. Love your work !

      Allieo - 2011-05-17 20:58

      Yes I love it, albeit the most expensive and most sophisticated experiment ever it still comes down to smashing stuff together to see what happens... :):) I am a little uncomfortable with the possible outcomes but i suppose its work that needs to be done although the theoretical risk is way past catastrophic.......

      Vaal Donkie - 2011-05-17 21:05

      Physicists are drama queens. It comes with the territory. Hopefully they will also figure out how to make portable nuclear bombs. I have an idea for the 2015 elections ;)

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-05-17 22:50

      I'd rather have anti-matter weapons. Clean, hot, just as powerfull as nukes and no fallout (no nothing near the blast, actually)

      Grunk - 2011-05-18 09:39

      Believe me Martin, between the Yanks, Chinese and whoever else the last thing you need is anti-matter weapons. That would lead to the biggest/resource grab in history - and by the way, gold has always been a very attractive resource.

      capetonian - 2011-07-26 07:53

      And to think that 500 or so years ago, the Roman Catholic church wanted to burn Galileo at the stake for saying that the earth wasn't the centre of everything! We nave come a long way since then - and no thanks to them!!

  • REVO - 2011-05-17 21:01

    Aaah man, i can't wait!!! This is gonna be BIG!!!

  • tdk25 - 2011-05-17 21:02

    Scientific orgasm is only 2yrs away.....Awesome stuff

  • Vaal Donkie - 2011-05-17 21:03

    Hopefully this will explain flogiston.

  • Uncle - 2011-05-17 21:36

    May 21st Christians!!! You may just get to meet your Higgs Boson. Hey? Hey!

  • barry.mcbride - 2011-05-17 21:59

    "which comprises about 23% of the universe" They have no genuine idea what the actual size of the universe is and you can’t estimate the size of anything that is continuously expanding or infinite.

      Fanie - 2011-05-18 06:51

      percentages remain constant....except in South African matric results

      capetonian - 2011-07-26 08:01

      You have to listen to Lawrence Krauss on the Universe and its future to be really awe inspired at how insignificant we are on this planet - a spec of dust on a grain of sand - one grain representing a star of which there are more then all the grains of sand on all the beaches on this planet... And the sky fairy believers think we are important in the scheme of things...

  • anadish - 2011-05-18 03:51

    Can Higgs boson explain momentum, inertia and moment of inertia? Can it explain gyroscopic effects? Can it explain dark matter? No. The folks at LHC have now set themselves a deadline. But can there be a deadline in such matters? Only, if you already have some knowledge of something? May be, they know that the fundamental functioning of gravity has already been understood? So, they are now working on an exit plan after the USPTO screened my application for two months under secrecy review. Quite probable that LHC got a whiff of what was brewing at the USPTO. To put the matters straight, the actual discovery of gravity’s exact mechanism along with that of dark matter has already taken place, way back in autumn 2010. I know from my theoretical understanding that it is impossible to find any traces of Higgs boson as a quantum particle in the Hadron collider, neither can it show the existence of dark matter. Some details of my discovery of how gravitation exactly works are on ; details of how it is produced in the framework of quantum mechanics has been disclosed to the US Patent Office and is to be published by them as a filed patent application. I consciously did not report to any peer-reviewed journal, fearing discrimination, because of my non-institutional status as a researcher. I had filed the US patent application (US 13/045,558) on March 11, 2011, after filing a mandatory Indian patent application on January 11, 2011.

      capetonian - 2011-07-26 08:12

      It would be interesting to hear what other scientists have to say with regard to your story, anadish. Is this the only forum that you feel suitable to raise your concerns? Who do you think in the local scientific community with an interest in what you have to say, is likely to read commentary here? I for one, would like to hear what happens re your patent application as I'm sure many others would also. Have you published any papers on the subject - peer reviewed of course - that's the way it works, doesn't it?

  • Peter - 2011-05-18 06:48 the mean is what happens while you are making other plans.

  • Fanie - 2011-05-18 07:15

    End of 12-12-2012? 'scuse me...... .....EEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!! now to sit back and listen to the comments LOL!

      Krolie - 2011-05-18 21:06

      Ekke sal maar my smoel hou want ek het nie 'n cooking clue waarvan jul als praat nie. Wish I did know more as it sounds terribly interesting and exciting.

  • Robot One - 2011-05-18 08:33

    Since they created antimatter recently they are probably trying to contain it long enough so they can send it to the CERN racetrack and put it through it's pases (smash it) By using the end of 2012 as a date they reason that if the world could possibly end that time and the majority of people expect something to happen, why not, if they blow up half the planet who cares.....hahaha

  • Spoofed - 2011-05-18 09:43

    I am so happy to be alive during this part of human history =)

  • timewarp78 - 2011-05-21 09:23

    science crew also has created things for helping with premature ejaculation. i hope they can keep it up after...

  • timewarp78 - 2011-05-21 09:26

    in a world of poverty , where some peoples only light in the dark is belief in god , the most amazing thing about this machine is the rich people spending 2.6 billion to extinguish that light

  • timewarp78 - 2011-05-21 09:30

    scientists will finally be able to understand premature ejac

  • tandylee.marinus - 2012-07-05 14:43

    in most of the articles ive read about the Higgs boson i havent seen Higgs involve his personal beliefs in his findings, he happened to stubble upon it and make a discovery without the help of religion. Also he wasnt the one who dubbed it the "god particle" so religous followers shouldnt feel as though he is comparing two things to state what is true or untrue.Its just to make his work aware to the public and share it with them.He has no control of the outcome or the way people percceive things.How we look at it depends on us.Dont think its necessary to feel threatened,if religion is what you believe in then surely your faith in your God is enough to with stand science.Religion should stop involving itself in politics if it is such a sacred and holy "part of life"

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