Cern scientists announced on Wednesday that they’ve finally – after a 45-year search – found the elusive Higgs boson particle, which gives matter mass.
At least, they’re 99.99% certain they have.
But how did they know they’d found it?
Well, in essence, they had some lovely computer-generated colour pictures that gave up the Higgs’ hiding place.
These came from experiments in which trillions of protons were smashed together at close to the speed of light by the Large Hadron Collider – aka the Big Bang Machine – buried underground on the France-Switzerland border.
Researchers predicted that if the Higgs existed, it should briefly show up and then quickly decay in the aftermath of the collisions.
And that’s precisely what happened, with a great deal of rejoicing.
After all, it’s not everyday that physics research enters an entirely new era.
As Cern Director General Rolf Heuer 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.”