What is the 'God particle' anyway?

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BERLIN — Scientists working at the world's biggest atom smasher near Geneva have announced the discovery of a new subatomic particle that looks remarkably like the long-sought Higgs boson. Sometimes called the "God particle" because its existence is fundamental to the creation of the universe, the hunt for the Higgs involved thousands of scientists from all over the world.

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This 2011 image provide by CERN, shows a real CMS proton-proton collision in which 4 high energy electrons (green lines and red towers) are observed in a 2011 event. The event shows characteristics expected from the decay of a Higgs boson but is also consistent with background Standard Model physics processes.   CERN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
CERN/ASSOCIATED PRESS
This 2011 image provide by CERN, shows a real CMS proton-proton collision in which 4 high energy electrons (green lines and red towers) are observed in a 2011 event. The event shows characteristics expected from the decay of a Higgs boson but is also consistent with background Standard Model physics processes.

WHAT IS THE GOD PARTICLE ANYWAY?

School physics teaches that everything is made up of atoms, and inside atoms are electrons, protons and neutrons. They, in turn, are made of quarks and other subatomic particles. Scientists have long puzzled over how these minute building blocks of the universe acquire mass. Without mass, particles wouldn't hold together and there would be no matter.

One theory proposed by British physicist Peter Higgs and teams in Belgium and the United States in the 1960s is that a new particle must be creating a "sticky" field that acts as a drag on other particles. The atom-smashing experiments at CERN, the European Center for Nuclear Research, have now captured a glimpse of what appears to be just such a Higgs-like particle.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

The Higgs is part of many theoretical equations underpinning scientists' understanding of how the world came into being. If it doesn't exist, then those theories would need to be fundamentally overhauled. The fact that it apparently does exist means scientists have been on the right track with their theories. But there's a twist: the measurements seem to diverge slightly from what would be expected under the so-called Standard Model of particle physics. This is exciting for scientists because it opens the possibility to potential new discoveries including a theory known as "super-symmetry" where particles don't just come in pairs — think matter and anti-matter — but quadruplets, all with slightly different characteristics.

HOW MUCH DID IT COST?

CERN's atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider, alone cost some $10 billion to build and run. This includes the salaries of thousands of scientists and support staff around the world who collaborated on the two experiments that independently pursued the Higgs.

WERE THERE ANY PRACTICAL RESULTS FROM THE SEARCH?

Not directly. But the massive scientific effort that led up to the discovery has paid off in other ways, one of which was the creation of the World Wide Web. CERN scientists developed it to make it easier to exchange information among each other. The vast computing power needed to crunch all of the data produced by the atom smasher has also boosted the development of distributed — or cloud — computing, which is now making its way into mainstream services. Advances in solar energy capture, medical imaging and proton therapy — used in the fight against cancer — have also resulted from the work of particle physicists at CERN and elsewhere.

WHAT'S NEXT

"This is just the beginning," says James Gillies, a spokesman for CERN. Scientists will keep probing the new particle until they fully understand how it works. In doing so they hope to understand the 96 percent of the universe that remains hidden from view. This may result in the discovery of new particles and even hitherto unknown forces of nature.

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Bizkit
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Bizkit 07/04/12 - 03:01 pm
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It's a boson-a Higgs boson.

It's a boson-a Higgs boson. The idea is about the Higgs mechanism which the boson particle existence would support.
So the headlines should read "Scientist find with 99.99998% certainty that God exists"-yep God particle. Now they need to make sure it is a Higgs boson and not some other particle.

seenitB4
88071
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seenitB4 07/04/12 - 03:57 pm
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Big Deal

It says...
This may result in the discovery of new particles and even hitherto unknown forces of nature.

This is really big....more important than the Sheriff's race...

seenitB4
88071
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seenitB4 07/04/12 - 04:03 pm
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Science

One expert said just think...there is 96% of our universe that we know nothing about......it is like saying we know 0 about our oceans on earth....we are like babes walking through a minefield.

Bizkit
32110
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Bizkit 07/04/12 - 10:24 pm
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True enough. We have yet to

True enough. We have yet to explore all of earth, our galaxy, before we venture further in the universe-and what is beyond the universe. More than half of all life is within the oceans. We have identified less than 10 % of species on the planet presently which represents less than 1% of the life which has existed on the planet. Despite the huge amount of information from the sciences you really have to wonder what new and life changing discovery will change our world view and way we live. We are like babes in a minefield.

KSL
131197
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KSL 07/05/12 - 03:53 am
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Biz, having trouble getting

Biz, having trouble getting my mind wrapped around this, probably because of all the sciences, physics was the one I was the least interested in. I loved biology the most. It was very interesting sitting in my freshman year biology course in 1965 and learning about DNA. Geology second semester. Absolutely fascinating in the western mountain area of Massachusetts, complete with field trips to see big lizzard footprints. I finally took physics my second year in college to please my father who maintained it was all about how the world worked. By that time aI was less interested in how the world worked and more interested in how the mind worked. Majored in English and Sociology.

seenitB4
88071
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seenitB4 07/05/12 - 06:31 am
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Well biz

It could go either way....we could ignite the spark that blows all to dust particles.....floating away into thin air....or
we could find mind-blowing information that will enlighten us beyond our wildest dreams.....I'm hoping for the dreams....:)

I missed my calling......I could've been "somebody" as Brando said.

jic
352
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jic 07/05/12 - 07:37 am
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The origin of the internet
Unpublished

The origin of the internet was the DARPANET. DARPA was the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency.

What followed DARPANET network was FTP (File Transfer Protocol) to facilitate communications between widely dispersed government scientists. This was followed later by the development of HTML led by Tim Berners Lee, who happened to be working at CERN at the time. CERN did NOT invent the internet. It was operational for a long time prior to HTML.
Apparently Dan Brown wrote in "Angels and Demons" that CERN invented the internet and it stuck. This article should be corrected.

seenitB4
88071
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seenitB4 07/05/12 - 07:41 am
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jic

Thank you jic....I didn't think that part was accurate.

jic
352
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jic 07/05/12 - 07:42 am
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As an aside, there is the
Unpublished

As an aside, there is the usual effort to credit inventions with those who made the first "commercial" application rather than those who did the basic research and built it. If that were true, then Tim Berners-Lee would still not be the inventor of the internet. That would be Marc Andreasson, who built the first browser and the company Netscape.

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