16:30 04 July 2012
Cern scientists working with the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have claimed the discovery of a new particle consistent with the much sought-after Higgs boson.
The particle is key in understanding how a matter attains its mass and how the world is, essentially, held together.
The hunt for answers has been stretched across 45 years and now after vigourous testing with the LHC, they believe they have a definitive answer.
Scientists at Switzerland's CERN (the European Council for Nuclear Research) announced the discovery of the particle to an audience which included the man whom it was named after: Professor Peter Higgs.
Higgs first speculated the existence of the particle over four decades ago. As the announcement was made, he wiped a tear from his eye and later gushed that it was "really an incredible thing that it's happened in my lifetime."
Professor John Womersley. chief executive of the Science and technology Facilities Council, said: "They have discovered a particle consistent with the Higgs boson. Discovery is the important word. That is confirmed. It's a momentous day for science."
Indeed, the discovery will likely lead to new technologies as we can further understanding the atom's complex structure.
Spokesman Joe Incandela said: "This is indeed a new particle.
"This is something that may in the end be one of the biggest discoveries or observations of any new phenomena that we’ve had in our field in the last 30 or 40 years"
Buried 100m below ground, the hugely expensive (and some critics claim potentially dangerous) Large Hadron Collider is the biggest piece of scientific apparatus ever made.
The LHC is a machine that accelerates a "big bang" particle massively, further revealing its structures. At almost the speed of light, protons are crashed into each other resulting in an excretion of enormous energy.
In December, the team caught their first glimpse of its true possibilities and understanding why some particles weigh more than other ones.
"It’s hard not to get excited by these results," said CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci. "We stated last year that in 2012 we would either find a new Higgs-like particle or exclude the existence of the Standard Model Higgs. With all the necessary caution, it looks to me that we are at a branching point."
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