The God is Discovered: Civil Services Mentor Magazine September 2012

The God is Discovered

Scientists at CERN, the European Organization forNuclear Research, discovered a new sub-atomic particle called Higgs Boson or God’s Particle. The new discovery is being considered as a gateway to a new era in understanding the universe’s great mysteries including dark matter. Scientists had predicted the existence of Higgs Boson, which is also referred to as God’s Particle, in 1964. The particle was named Higgs Boson after Peter Higgs and Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose. Peter Higgs was one of six authors who wrote the revolutionary papers covering what is now known as the Higgs mechanism and described the related Higgs field and boson. The term God particle was first used by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman. The term is now a more popular term for Higgs Boson which explains how the subatomic universe works and got started. Scientists have finally locked onto Higgs boson, the ‘God particle’, a discovery that crowns the global scientific community’s most challenging and comprehensive quest for the subatomic particle rightly regarded as “the key to the cosmic riddle”.

Organisation for Nuclear Research), Geneva, announced the discovery , in the presence of a tearful Peter Higgs, the British physicist after whom the particle is named, and many other scientists. The breakthrough has been described as the biggest leap in physics. An overwhelmed Higgs, 83, said: “I certainly had no idea it would happen in my lifetime at the beginning, more than 40 years ago. “I think it shows amazing dedication by the young people involved with these colossal collaborations to persist in this way, on what is a really a very difficult task. I congratulate them.”

What Exactly is a Higgs boson?

Simply put, it enables particles in atoms to help invest them with mass, the basic building blocks of the universe, which include everything from the lowliest of micro-organisms, through soil, water, minerals, plants, trees, insects, animals and mountains to the most complex life forms including humans, even entire planets and galaxies. Take away Higgs bosons from atoms and the results would be chaotic. Their particles, comprising protons, electrons and neutrons, would zip through space with lightning speed, unable to bind together to form atoms. Then all creation would be unthinkable. “But if it is found, there’s still lots of work ahead.”

Bosons belong to a family of particles named after the Indian physicist Satyendra Nath Bose, a contemporary of Albert Einstein, his German counterpart, who gave us the Bose-Einstein statistics (B-E statistics), one of the three systems which statistical mechanics, a branch of physics, recognizes. bosons are characterized by their obedience to B-E statistics. This class of particles includes photons as well as the Higgs boson. Higgs boson is named after Peter Higgs, the last of the 12 particles postulated by the Standard Model of physics, the theory that describes the basic building blocks of the universe, excluding gravity. Higgs had predicted the particle’s existence roughly 40 years ago. The discovery can been likened to that of the electron, a subatomic particle, the idea first being floated in 1838, but its presence was confirmed only after 60 years.

Large Hadron Collider (LHC)

Central to the discovery is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, housed in a massive 27 km circular tunnel, some 175 metres underground near Geneva. It was built by Cern from 1998 to 2008, to detect the presence of Higgs boson, besides addressing some of the most fundamental questions of physics. The LHC smashes beams of sub-atomic particles such as protons virtually at the speed of light, recreating conditions that existed for a billionth of a second after the Big Bang, heralding the birth of the universe. As the universe cooled, the theory goes, an invisible force known as the Higgs field permeated the cosmos, made up Higgs bosons.

More than 10,000 scientists and engineers from over 100 countries, including a 150 from India, collaborated to erect the superstructure.

The God particle

Most of the particles that result from the collisions exist for only the smallest fractions of a second. But finding a Higgs-like boson was one of the biggest challenges in physics: Out of some 500 trillion collisions, just several dozen produced “events” with significant data, said Joe Incandela of the University of California at Santa Barbara, leader of the team known as CMS, with 2,100 scientists.

Each of the teams confirmed Wednesday that they had “observed” a new subatomic particle — a boson. Heuer said the discovery was “most probably a Higgs boson, but we have to find out what kind of Higgs boson it is.” He referred to the discovery as a missing cornerstone of science. As the leaders of the two teams presented their evidence, applause punctuated their talks.

Understanding the ‘God particle’

Scientists say they have found hints of the existence of the Higgs boson, a never-before-seen subatomic particle long thought to be a fundamental building block of the universe. In a highly anticipated press conference, researchers announced that two independent experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva have turned up signs of the socalled “God particle.” While the experiments haven’t yet turned up enough data to confirm the Higgs boson’s existence, experts say finding the elusive particle would rank as one of the top scientific achievements of the past 50 years.

What is the Higgs boson?

The Standard Model of particle physics lays out the basics of how elementary particles and forces interact in the universe. But the theory crucially fails to explain how particles actually get their mass. Particles, or bits of matter, range in size and can be larger or smaller than atoms. Electrons, protons and neutrons, for instance, are the subatomic particles that make up an atom. Scientists believe that the Higgs boson is the particle that gives all matter its mass. Experts know that elementary particles like quarks and electrons are the foundation upon which all matter in the universe is built. They believe the elusive Higgs boson gives the particles mass and fills in one of the key holes in modern physics.

How does the Higgs boson work?

The Higgs boson is part of a theory first proposed by physicist Peter Higgs and others in the 1960s to explain how particles obtain mass. The theory proposes that a so-called Higgs energy field exists everywhere in the universe. As particles zoom around in this field, they interact with and attract Higgs bosons, which cluster around the particles in varying numbers. Imagine the universe like a party. Relatively unknown guests at the party can pass quickly through the room unnoticed; more popular guests will attract groups of people (the Higgs bosons) who will then slow their movement through the room.

The speed of particles moving through the Higgs field works much in the same way. Certain particles will attract larger clusters of Higgs bosons — and the more Higgs bosons a particle attracts, the greater its mass will be.

Why is finding the Higgs boson so Important?

While finding the Higgs boson won’t tell us everything we need to know about how the universe works, it will fill in a huge hole in the Standard Model that has existed for more than 50 years, according to experts.

What next after a Higgs boson-like Particle?

The ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC Apparatus) collaboration at CERN has announced the sighting of a Higgs boson-like particle in the energy window of 125.3 ± 0.6 GeV. The observation has been made with a statistical significance of 5 sigma. This means the chances of error in their measurements are 1 in 3.5 million, sufficient to claim a discovery and publish papers detailing the efforts in the hunt. Rolf-Dieter Heuer, Director General of CERN since 2009, said at the special conference called by CERN in Geneva, “It was a global effort, it is a global effort. It is a global success.” He expressed great optimism and concluded the conference saying this was “only the beginning.” Another collaboration, called CMS (Compact Muon Solenoid), announced the mass of the Higgslike particle with a 4.9 sigma result. While insufficient to claim a discovery, it does indicate only a one- n-two-million chance of error.

The LHC will continue to run its experiments so that results revealed on Wednesday can be revalidated before it shuts down at the end of the year for maintenance. Even so, by 2013, scientists, such as Dr. Rahul Sinha, a participant of the Belle Collaboration in Japan, are confident that a conclusive result will be out.

Why Boson

The word must surely have some European genealogy? In fact, “boson” is derived from Satyendra Nath Bose, an Indian physicist from Kolkata who, in 1924, realised that the statistical method used to analyse most 19th- entury work on the thermal behaviour of gases was inadequate. He first sent off a paper on quantum statistics to a British journal, which turned it down. He then sent it to Albert Einstein, who immediately grasped its immense importance, and published it in a German journal. Bose’s innovation came to be known as the Bose- Einstein statistics, and became a basis of quantum mechanics. Einstein saw that it had profound implications for physics; that it had opened the way for this subatomic particle, which he named, after his Indian collaborator, “boson.”

A win for Science over Superstition!

A lot of people don’t know that many of the great discoveries in particle physics are largely exercises in statistical analysis. Flipping a coin a dozen times will provide a very limited understanding of probability. A run of a million tosses will sharply define the limits of probability. Getting seven heads in ten tosses is not especially noteworthy. Getting seven hundred thousand heads out of a million tosses would reveal something real at work on the coin.

So it goes in particle physics. Small things need lots of samples to paint a complete picture. Instead of flipping coins in the air, the physicists working on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, use two beams of protons traveling in a vacuum at 99.9999% of the speed of light around a 17-mile-long magnetic ring. The two beams are traveling in opposite directions and are magnetically maneuvered to collide within a detector the size of a house. Each experimental run produces hundreds of quadrillions of collisions. Those collisions are individual data points that, cumulatively show the presence of... something, right where the Higgs boson, and nothing else, ought to be. To paraphrase Joe Biden, it’s really kind of a big deal.

But there is another aspect of this discovery that has other, equally profound implications. This discovery is not merely the validation of an important theory about the fabric of the universe. In a very big way, the discovery of the Higgs boson further anchors us to a material universe that works on principles and parameters dictated by the very nature of its component parts. The discovery is yet another demonstration of Scientific methodology as the scrupulous process by which humankind acquires and authenticates all knowledge. The importance of this becomes more obvious when contrasted against the current resurgence of rabid religionism, especially the unabashed and exuberant anti-intellectualism of those who assert that they hold special knowledge, supplied by talkative deities, and who strive to supplant Science with bronze age origin fables.


The discovery of the Higgs boson is new high ground in that struggle and pushes our understanding of the universe out to a new horizon. Higgs is a big win for science and for the smart people who know more than just answers, they know the right questions to ask.