Yesterday, 4th July 2012, was indeed one of the great days in the history of science, and hopefully I need not explain why, instead here are a few quotes that I picked up …
This is without doubt in my opinion the biggest scientific discovery of my lifetime and without doubt one of the biggest scientific discoveries of all time, so I’m tremendously excited… This day will go down as one of the great days in the history of science I think, and that’s not overly hyperbolic.
This is a prediction that was made almost 50 years ago. And the prediction is that the universe, everywhere, empty space, everywhere you look, every little cubic centimetre of space in front of you and inside your body and across the universe, is rammed full of Higgs particles, and everything that makes up your body, the little subatomic particles in your hand, are bouncing off them, and that’s how they get their mass.
And more than that the theory said that these Higgs particles condensed out into empty space less than a billionth of a second after the universe began. It sounds very esoteric and fundamental. But what we’ve shown today is that’s right. That’s actually how the universe works. So it’s one of the central planks of our understanding of how everything in the universe works.
And even though, throughout my whole career as a particle physicist of 20 years now, this theory has been there, I think the realisation that it’s actually right is quite shocking, actually; I’m quite shocked that such a strange thing has been shown to be true.
Professor Stephen Hawking admitted to the BBC that he’s lost his bet that the Higgs particle wouldn’t be found, it apparently cost him $100.
“For me it’s a really incredible thing that it’s happened in my lifetime,”
And, for those of who still a little in the dark, check out this fun explainer video by PHD Comics on Vimeo.
All this is just the beginning. Dr Roberto Trotta, Lecturer in Cosmology at Imperial College London, has this to say…
This could be just the first step towards uncovering a completely new layer of reality – the Higgs might lead to the discovery of supersymmetry: the notion that for every known particle there exist a super-particle with a much larger mass.
And if supersymmetry is real, then we are on our way to finally crack the mystery of the dark matter in the Universe. Dark matter might be ‘the last Highlander’ of all supersymmetric particles, the only surviving ‘sparticle’ from the Big Bang. And we might be on the verge of hunting it down at the LHC.
Obviously having found a new particle, there is still much, much more to do at the LHC – we need to confirm that this new particle is the reason some particles have tangible mass while others are insubstantial – as proposed by Peter Higgs and other scientists, who predicted that a previously unknown particle must exist for our current understanding of the Universe to work.
And, for Professor Valentin Khoze, Director of Durham University’s Institute for Particle Physics Phenomenology (IPPP), this discovery is just opening the door to others that could be even more exciting.
The second part of the story about the Higgs particle is even more exciting as it provides us with a window to new physics – a tool for the exploration of the truly unknown.
The next stage will be a detailed and careful study of its properties. Successful completion of this second stage will bring us closer to uncovering new physics, explaining dark matter and other mysteries of the Universe.
But perhaps what best captures the mood of it all are these tweets …