Boffins close in on 'God Particle'

Boffins close in on 'God Particle'. Physicists have come closer to finding the elusive "God Particle", which they hope can one day explain why particles have mass

Researchers at the the US Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory have managed to shrink the territory where the elusive Higgs Boson particle is expected to be found - a discovery placing the American research institute ahead of its European rival in the race to discover one of the biggest prizes in physics.

Physicists have long puzzled over how particles acquire mass.

In 1964, a British physicist, Peter Higgs, came up with this idea: there must exist a background field that would act rather like treacle.

Particles passing through it would acquire mass by being dragged through a mediator, which theoreticians dubbed the Higgs Boson.

The standard quip about the Higgs is that it is the "God Particle" - it is everywhere but remains frustratingly elusive.

Confirming the Higgs would fill a huge gap in the so-called Standard Model, the theory that summarises our present knowledge of particles. Over the years, scientists have whittled down the ranges of mass that the Higgs is likely to have.

Physicists were hopeful that the particle could be found with Europe's Big Bang

But the collider was shut down just days after it was turned on in September 2008 at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) below the Franco-Swiss border.

It is not scheduled to be turned back on until September, while researchers at the rival Fermilab have cranked up their efforts to discover the Higgs. /

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