Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Stephen Hawking loses $100 bet as Higgs bosun discovered

While still hedging their bets ever so slightly, on Wednesday physicists at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced that they had found a new sub-atomic particle "consistent" with the elusive Higgs boson or "God" particle which is believed to explain why all matter has mass. The use of the term "consistent" is a 10-letter hedge against totally confirming its discovery, though.

Rolf Heuer, director of CERN, said the newly discovered subatomic particle is "a boson," but he stopped just short of proclaiming it to be THE Higgs boson itself. His statement was,

"As a layman, I think we did it. We have a discovery. We have observed a new particle that is consistent with a Higgs boson."

The Higgs bosun was first proposed as a theory by Peter Higgs in the 1960s. Reference to it as the "God particle" has nothing to do with religion, but instead is made because scientists believe that without a Higgs boson, the universe can't exist in the first place.

The discovery is not without cost, and we're not speaking of the budget conferred on the Large Hadron Collider super-atom-smasher that sits on the French-Swiss border. Instead, we're speaking of $100, to be exact, which is what renowned physicist Stephen Hawking now owes Gordon Kane of Michigan University; Hawking had bet him that the Higgs bosun wouldn’t be found.

In an interview with the BBC Wednesday, Hawking added that the confirmation of the Higgs bosun should earn Peter Higgs the Nobel Prize. Higgs, meanwhile, is now 83-years-old, and speaking at CERN on Wednesday, said he was surprised that he lived long enough to see the Higgs bosun discovered, saying,

"I haven't been dreaming about it for 48 years because I had other things to do with my life. At the beginning, I had no expectation that I would still be alive when it happened."

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Cern scientists said that the discovery of Higgs bosun is the biggest advance in knowledge about the cosmos in over 30 years.

Now if they can just remove the word "consistent" from the finding.

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