What the scientific community has been eagerly waiting for for nearly 45 years now stands to be possibly the most significant discovery in the last 50 years of science but it may possibly be bitter sweet as though scientists have said that a new sub atomic particle has been discovered, they are not yet sure whether this particle is indeed the elusive Higgs Boson or a particle that closely resembles it.
The week had started off with news that two separate team of ‘Higgs Hunters’, CMS and Atlas at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) would be making an announcement on Wednesday regarding their research into discovering the Higgs Boson and as promised, CERN today announced that the teams had discovered a particle that was ‘consistent’ with the Higgs Boson, saying that both teams had come close to a “discovery” but added that more research was needed to confirm that the particle was indeed the much coveted particle.
Speaking at the press conference, Professor Rolf Heuer, director or CERN said, "As a layman I would now say I think we have it. We have a discovery - we have observed a new particle consistent with a Higgs boson. But which one? That remains open. It is a historic milestone but it is only the beginning."
Professor, the British physicist after whom the particle was named, was moved to tears at the CERN presentation saying, "I would like to add my congratulations to everyone involved in this achievement," he added later. It's really an incredible thing that it's happened in my lifetime."
Regarding the data itself, the CMS team has claimed to have achieved a five-sigma point level of certainty with respect to their data sets, meaning that there was a one in 3.5 million chance that what they had observed was not a Higgs particle. In the CMS team’s data, the researchers noticed a “bump” which was the weight equivalent of a particle that weighed 125.3 gigaelectronvolts (GeV), some 133 times heavier than a proton. However it was seen that by combining all the data sets of the CMS team, only a 4.9 sigma was achieved meaning a one in two million chance.
CMS team spokesperson, Prof Joe Incandela said "The results are preliminary but the five-sigma signal at around 125 GeV we're seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle."
Meanwhile the Atlas team’s results appeared to show a particle with even more mass, with Atlas team spokesperson, Dr Fabiola Gianotti commenting, "We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of five sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV."