It may be a bit more difficult to be an atheist this week.
According to The Associated Press, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) will be reporting this week that the 'God' particle does, in fact, exist.
Proposed in the 1960s by Scottish physicist Peter Higgs, the Higgs boson particle has been defined by theory, but has never been identified. This particle – so-called the ‘God’ particle – is what gives some particles mass, and leaves some massless, and can explain the origins of the universe. It is the Holy Grail for physicists, and is key to the understanding of physics and the universe.
In December, scientists said that they saw hints of the elusive particle at 125 billion electron volts, but they were still not close enough to call it a discovery. Now teams have gotten closer and have collected increasing amounts of data on the matter.
Despite this exciting revelation, the scientists are reluctant to call it a discovery of the particle itself, prompting a Vanity Fair article derisively titled “Exclusive: Talking the God Particle Through Its Existential Crisis.”
Indeed, the scientists behind the discovery seem as evasive as the particle once was. Though they are certain that it exists, they are reluctant to say that they have glimpsed it themselves. News coverage on the matter says that the team has discovered a footprint of the particle. But such elusiveness does not mean that the team is not close. Rob Roser, who leads the Fermilab in Chicago, which is looking for the Higgs boson itself, says that physics has a very high standard for what counts as a discovery.
CERN, and other teams worldwide, has been targeting the Higgs boson for decades. Their $10 billion Large Hadron Collider has long been hard at work forming high-energy collisions of protons to aid physics’ understanding of suspected phenomena like dark matter, antimatter, and ultimately the origin of the universe.