CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, said speculation it may soon report the discovery of the so-called God particle is premature because researchers are still analyzing data.
CERN plans to present preliminary findings from its search for the particle, also known as the Higgs boson, on July 4 as an international physics conference begins. The discovery of the boson, theorized as allowing particles to generate mass, may be “imminent,” Le Temps, a Geneva-based newspaper, reported today, citing speculation on physics blogs.
“It’s a very exciting time in particle physics because we know that we’re on the verge of either showing that this thing exists or not,” James Gillies, a spokesman at Geneva-based CERN, said in a phone interview. “Today, it’s simply premature to say for sure whether we’re going to be announcing that next week or not.”
Finding the Higgs boson, named after U.K. physicist Peter Higgs, would validate the Standard Model, a theory explaining how the universe is built, and could be a gateway to verifying other parts of physics such as superparticles or dark matter. The research would help scientists gain a better understanding of the universe and how galaxies hold together.
CERN said June 22 that “if and when” it finds a new particle, the research group “will need time to ascertain whether it is the long-sought Higgs boson, the last missing ingredient of the Standard Model of particle physics, or whether it is a more exotic form of the boson that could open the door to new physics.”
Researchers are still studying data and refining experiments, Gillies said today.
The press conference that CERN plans for July 4 “will definitely be the long-awaited Higgs discovery announcement” following two experiments “and a high standard of evidence,” Peter Woit, a mathematics professor at Columbia University in New York, wrote on his blog on June 22.
CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer has said if its researchers don’t find the particle by the end of this year, they will exclude its existence. Failing to find the Higgs boson would lend credibility to alternative theories that explain the mechanism that allows particles to have mass.
U.S. scientists found some evidence of the existence of the Higgs boson in two independent experiments, the Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory said March 7. The clues weren’t strong enough to declare the so-called God particle cornered, the laboratory said at the time.
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