By FIONA MACRAE
Bloggers with contacts inside CERN predict that the two separate teams hunting the Higgs boson will reveal early sightings of it - although without the full level of certainty required to call it a 'scientific discovery'
The ‘God particle’, hailed as the holy grail of physics, may have been glimpsed for the first time.
Excited scientists at the Large Hadron Collider – the world’s biggest atom smasher – are expected to announce today that they have spotted the Higgs boson particle.
While they will not claim definitive proof, they are tipped to reveal tantalising evidence of the particle’s existence.
Heavy duty: The 13,000-ton CMS detector is one of two being used by CERN to find the 'God particle'
Theoretical physicist and blogger Sascha Vongehr said: ‘The anticipation among physics enthusiasts is almost palpable.’
The Higgs boson is regarded – by those who know about such things – as the key to understanding the universe. Its job is, apparently, to give the particles that make up atoms their mass. Without this mass, these particles would zip though the cosmos at the speed of light, unable to bind together to form the atoms that make up everything in the universe, from planets to people.
The Higgs boson’s existence was predicted in 1964 by Edinburgh University physicist Peter Higgs. But it has eluded previous searchers – so much so that not all scientists believe in its existence.
Today, two teams of scientists at CERN’s collider, near Geneva, are expected to announce they have glimpsed it for the first time.
Leaving no stone unturned: The Atlas detector is the other machine looking for the Higgs
The collider, housed in an 18-mile tunnel buried deep underground near the French-Swiss border, smashes beams of protons – sub-atomic particles – together at close to the speed of light, recreating the conditions that existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.
If the physicists’ theory is correct, a few Higgs bosons should be created in every trillion collisions, before rapidly decaying.
This decay would leave behind a ‘footprint’ that would show up as a bump in their graphs.