The press calls it the "God particle," about to be discovered by a "doomsday machine." Hyperbole aside, this morning at 8am EST, scientists operating the Large Hadron Collider on the Franco-Swiss border announced their biggest finding yet related to the elusive Higgs boson particle. Two independent teams of CERN researchers reported "tantalizing hints" of the particle's existence.
The Higgs boson, named for physicist Peter Higgs, is a theoretical particle responsible for giving all other particles their mass. Citing data generated by two separate experiments, scientists were able to say with a likelihood of about 5,000-to-one that they have found the Higgs boson. Although data from the proton collisions is not yet conclusive --- scientists would need a certainty level of 3.5 million-to-one for a true "discovery"--- researchers hope to have enough evidence next year to finally solve the puzzle.
The Large Hadron Collider has been a long abiding interest for Studio 360 host Kurt Andersen, and a few years ago we took a closer look at this scientific marvel. Eric Molinsky explored how the LHC's real life technology compared to our wildest sci-fi fantasies. He discovered a machine that is as beautiful as it is complex:
The LHC's immense particle accelerator, comprised of 17-mile long magnets cooled by 120 tons of liquid helium, has inspired awe as well as fear. The writer Lydia Millet imagined one chilling scenario in a short story commissioned by Studio 360:
But Columbia University physicist Janna Levin told Kurt that we have nothing to fear. Such scenarios are "about as physically unlikely as me passing through a wall," she said. As of this morning scientists have yet to announce any humans passing through walls. But now that the LHC is up and running, stay tuned.
You can listen to Kurt and Dr. Levin's conversation here: