New particle found, could unravel secret of
Science Wednesday moved one step closer to unlocking the secrets
of the universe with a new particle that could be the elusive
Higgs boson, the basic building block of the cosmos.
"We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature," said
Rolf Heuer, the director
New Delhi: 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".
Scientists at CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research),
Geneva, announced the discovery on Wednesday, 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
"If this missing piece is not found, we'll have to rewrite physics
textbooks," observed Satyaki Bhattacharya, physicist at the Saha
Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata. "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.
Central to the discovery is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the
world's largest and most powerful particle celerator, 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. Besides, Swapan Sen and Sandeep Sarkar of Saha
Institute of Nuclear Physics, Kolkata, developed a prototype of
chip named MANAS (Multiplex Analogue Signal Processor), in 1997,
which took them 11 years. Some 80,000 MANAS chips were supplied to
MANAS's high speed and vast recording capacity, could help speed
up personal computers by 10,000 times and boosting internet speed
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