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CERN plays down claims of 'god particle' discovery

Rumours that scientists at CERN had uncovered the theoretical ‘god particle’ – after an internal memo was leaked – have been underplayed by officials.

File photo shows a scientist in one of CERN's control rooms.
File photo shows a scientist in one of CERN's control rooms.
Image: AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus

OFFICIALS AT THE world’s biggest particle physics laboratory have been playing down claims of a major discovery after a leaked internal memo sparked excitement among science enthusiasts that the elusive Higgs boson – aka the ‘god particle’ – had been found.

A spokesman for the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, or CERN, says the observation by scientists working at the multi-billion euro Large Hadron Collider “is probably nothing.”

The brief note published anonymously on a Columbia University physics blog last week claims unexpected measurements from high-energy particle collisions mark “the first definitive observation of physics beyond the standard model.”

CERN spokesman James Gillies says such results show up frequently but can often be dismissed after further scrutiny.

However, even if this is a false alarm, the discovery of the Higgs boson may not be far off. Speaking at Trinity College Dublin earlier this month, Dr Steve Myers, director of accelerators and technology at CERN, said that progress on the project had been so good that the goal of uncovering the theoretical Higgs boson – a particle thought to be the missing link in explaining life – may happen sooner than thought.

Scientists at CERN place particles in the collider, accelerate them to almost the speed of light and smash them together; particle physicists then monitor the results in the hope that of finding the existence of the Higgs boson which, it is thought, could unravel the mysteries of existence by showing how objects achieve mass.

Additional reporting by AP

Read more: Scientists at Cern believe ‘god particle’ may be discovered soon >

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