Particle physicists are usually fairly reserved and cautious – but the discovery of the Higgs boson has led to some fairly excitable reactions from the scientific community.
Here we round up what the experts said on Wednesday about the Cern researchers’ breakthrough.
First up is TV boffin Professor Brian Cox, who told BBC News just how important Higgs is.
Scientists at Cern react with joy at the news that Higgs has been found
He said: “It’s a genuinely fundamental piece of our understanding of nature. “
And asked how the discovery could influence everyday life, he said:
“History tells us that exploring the way the universe works has delivered modern civilisation.
“Life would be unthinkable without our understanding of the atomic world.
“Understanding the universe is self-evidently a sensible thing to do because our civilisation is built on it.”
Professor Jim Al-Khalili, Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey, calls for a few gongs to be handed out as a result of the discovery.
He told The Huffington Post UK: "After all the hype and speculation, after decades of designing the world’s most ambitious experiment and months of careful checking of data, today is the pay-off. The Higgs really does exist.
“After all the rumours and leaks in the run-up to this morning, the announcement from Cern is even more definitive and clear-cut than than most of us expected.
“Cutting through all the jargon about ‘sigma’s and ‘decay channels’ the bottom line is that Cern have indeed discovered the Higgs boson. They are still being cautious - as I would be if I worked for Cern – although they have definitely found a new particle, they say they cannot be sure it’s the Higgs itself without further analysis.
A graphic of one of the proton collisions that show the existence of the god particle
“But in my view if it looks like the Higgs, smells like the Higgs and is exactly what we expected from the Higgs, then it’s the Higgs. Nobel prizes all round please.”
Michael H Seymour, Professor of Particle Physics, University of Manchester, summed up how today felt for him personally.
He said: “I have spent my entire career waiting for today. And I am one of thousands of particle physicists in the same situation - to get to this point has been a truly global effort. It is a tremendously exciting day for me, and for the thousands of physicists worldwide who made it happen.”
Over at Cern, Director General Rolf Heuer underlined the sheer importance of the find.
He said: “We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature. The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle’s properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe.”
The Higgs was found by the Large Hadron Collider
Dr Alan Barr of Oxford University’s Department of Physics was also moved to make a profound statement.
He said: “The existence of a particle like the Higgs boson asks deep questions about why the universe seems to be so exquisitely finely set-up for us to inhabit.”
Dr Roberto Trotta, Lecturer in Cosmology at Imperial College London, believes mysterious new realities may now be revealed.
He said: "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."
And let’s not forget the contribution to the find made by UK scientists, as David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, pointed out: “This news from Cern is a breakthrough in world science. The UK has made an enormous contribution over the last 20 years supporting the search for the Higgs Boson. Our researchers, universities and industry partners have been instrumental in making the Large Hadron Collider such a success.
“They deserve recognition for their contribution to this scientific milestone that will change the way we look at the universe from now on. And of course Professor Higgs of Edinburgh University has now secured his place in history.”
And the last word, of course, to Professor Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh, who first postulated the Higgs boson in the 1960s.
He said: “Scientists at Cern are to be congratulated on today’s results, which are a great achievement for the Large Hadron Collider and other experiments leading up to this.
“I am astounded at the amazing speed with which these results have emerged. They are a testament to the expertise of the researchers and the elaborate technologies in place.
“I never expected this to happen in my lifetime and shall be asking my family to put some champagne in the fridge.”
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