'I think we have it'
With those words, one of the most momentous scientific discoveries in history may have been announced to the world.
The Higgs boson -- a subatomic particle thought to give mass to matter thus making possible everything in the universe -- is thought to have been glimpsed by scientists working at the Large Hadron Collider in Cern, Switzerland.
Physicists working at CERN's Large Hadron Collider said Wednesday that they had discovered a new subatomic particle that looks for all the world like the Higgs boson, a potential key to an understanding of why elementary particles have mass and indeed to the existence of diversity and life in the universe.
"I think we have it," Rolf-Dieter Heuer, the director general of CERN, said in an interview from his office outside Geneva, calling the discovery "a historic milestone." His words signaled what is probably the beginning of the end for one of the longest, most expensive searches in the history of science. If scientists are lucky, the discovery could lead to a new understanding of how the universe began.
Dr. Heuer and others said that it was too soon to know for sure whether the new particle, which weighs in at 125 billion electron volts, one of the heaviest subatomic particles yet, fits the simplest description given by the Standard Model, the theory that has ruled physics for the last half-century, or whether it is an impostor, a single particle or even the first of many particles yet to be discovered. The latter possibilities are particularly exciting to physicists since they could point the way to new deeper ideas, beyond the Standard Model, about the nature of reality. For now, some physicists are calling it a "Higgslike" particle.
"It's great to discover a new particle, but you have find out what its properties are," said John Ellis, a theorist at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
The uncertainty and skepticism is what true science is all about. Contrast the scientists at Hadron with the climate change hysterics who speak with such dead certainty about their theory despite the fact that their models have proven to be unreliable an indicator of what is to come.
Now the process of peer review begins and the skeptics and believers will have their say. Science is a process of discovering facts and I suspect it will be years before some rough agreement is reached in the scientific community about what it is the scienitists might have discovered today.