The Washington Post

‘God particle’ scheduled for unveiling

View Photo Gallery: A look at the Large Hadron Collider where researchers are hunting for the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that is central to physics’ Standard Model.

Scientists are set to announce a breakthrough in the quest for the Holy Grail of subatomic particles later this week. Shedding light on the Higgs particle, or the “God particle,” as it’s been dubbed, would constitute a major discovery about the nature of the universe by helping explain why objects have mass and weight.

Researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, are expected to present new findings about the particle on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press.Scientists have found evidence showing the footprint of the Higgs particle, which proves that it exists but doesn’t actually show it, according to the AP.

“I agree that any reasonable outside observer would say, ‘It looks like a discovery,’” British theoretical physicist John Ellis, a professor at King’s College London who has worked at CERN since the 1970s, told The Associated Press, according to the report. “We’ve discovered something which is consistent with being a Higgs.”

The vessel for Wednesday’s particle display is CERN’s $10 billion atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider, which creates high-energy proton collisions that shed light on dark matter and antimatter.

Higgs gained recognition in the public eye under the nickname “God particle” in a popular science book by the physicist Leon Lederman called “The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?” In the book, Lederman said the name fits because the particle is “so central to the state of physics today, so crucial to our final understanding of the structure of matter, yet so elusive.”

The exalted nickname is controversial among some scientists who point out that its discovery won’t present a concluding answer to the origin of the universe.

Follow Gregory Thomas at @gregrthomas.

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