Physicists Observe Higgs Boson, the Elusive 'God Particle'

More than 1 trillion collisions were necessary to detect the long sought-after particle.

This 2011 CERN image shows a real CMS proton-proton collision of four high energy electrons (green lines and red towers). The event shows characteristics expected from the decay of a Higgs boson but is also consistent with background Standard Model physics processes.

Scientists at Europe's CERN laboratory confirmed Thursday that they've found a Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that physicists say can help explain the universe.

In July 2012, researchers at the center's Large Hadron Collider announced they had found a particle that behaved similar to the predicted Higgs boson, the particle that gives mass to atoms. According to the Standard Model of particle physics, the particle can help explain how matter interacts with the universe.

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Thursday, they said they have analyzed "two and a half times more data" than was available in 2012 and that the particle is "looking more and more like a Higgs boson."

The Large Hadron Collider is a particle accelerator that was built by CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, in order to look for the Higgs boson, study the Big Bang and answer other questions that had troubled theoretical physicists for years. The Higgs boson was predicted in 1964 by a team led by physicist Peter Higgs, who said that the particle would likely have no spin or electric charge and would help explain why other particles have mass. Since then, physicists had been looking, unsuccessfully, for the particle, which is often referred to as the "God particle."

Until now. According to researchers at CERN, the new particle they've found has characteristics predicted by Higgs.

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"The beautiful new results represent a huge effort by many dedicated people. They point to the new particle having the spin-parity of a Higgs boson as in the Standard Model," Dave Charlton, a representative for CERN, said in a statement.

In order to observe the Higgs boson, the CERN team had to create more than 1 trillion particle collisions. "The detection of the boson is a very rare event," according to CERN.

Thursday's confirmation is the strongest evidence yet that it exists, but the researchers are still unsure whether the particle is a "standard" Higgs boson or may be another type of Higgs boson. They will continue performing experiments over the coming years, according to CERN representative Joe Incandela.

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"It is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is," he said in a statement.

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