Leaked Video Suggests 'God Particle' Discovery Close at Hand
Physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have seen a new particle, along with evidence that suggests it's the Higgs boson, announced a video that CERN's press office released by accident. The video was one of several the European science agency made ahead of time, so officials would be ready for any outcome, a CERN spokesperson told the U.K.'s Telegraph. Nobody knows yet what the outcome will be, CERN spokeswoman Corinne Pralavorio told ScienceNews. CERN plans to officially announce its findings tomorrow (July 4).
Yet rumors still persist that scientists have found compelling evidence of the existence of the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that would provide evidence for a fundamental physics theory and account for why matter has mass. The Higgs boson is often called the "God particle" for its importance to physics, but many physicists dislike the name.
Several news organizations have gathered hints that the news is good at CERN.
Scientists won't say they've made a new discovery at CERN because the evidence they have is not rigorous enough, although it is very close, the Associated Press reported July 2. To say the word "discovery," physicists have to show there is less than a 1 in 1.7 million chance their findings are a statistical fluke. CERN now has two independent experiments that say there's less than a 1 in 16,000 chance of a statistical anomaly, so whether the data make the bar depends on how those two experiments fit together, the Associated Press reported.
On the other hand, an anonymous physicist who works at CERN told Nature News, "Without a doubt, we have a discovery." The Nature News story was also datelined July 2.
A recent announcement from Fermilab in the U.S. is also fueling speculation that CERN's latest experiments have been successful. Fermilab found the best-yet data that form an "indication" that the Higgs boson exists, the New York Times reported. Fermilab, in Batavia, Ill., houses the largest particle collider in the U.S., but the collider was shut down in 2011. Scientists have been working to analyze collider data since then.
Finally, several outlets have noted that CERN invited the six physicists who first theorized about the Higgs boson, including Peter Higgs, to attend its July 4th announcement. A CERN spokesperson wouldn't speak with Nature News about what the invitation meant.
After tomorrow's announcement, physicists will still need to study whether the particle they've seen behaves the way a Higgs boson is predicted to, Nature News reported. In one important experiment, scientists will measure how the particle arises and decays inside the Large Hadron Collider.