Print this article | Close this window The hunt for 'God's particle' James Randerson, Guardian June 2, 2008 Advertisement A huge atom-smasher is set to unlock the secret of the origin of the universe. IT IS one of the most puzzling pieces in physicists' understanding of the universe - the Higgs bosun, the so-called missing piece. But the scientist behind the so-called "God particle" believes the confirmation of his prediction is imminent. Peter Higgs, emeritus professor of physics at the University of Edinburgh, says he is 90% confident that an atom-smashing machine nearing completion in Switzerland will prove that the particle exists. The professor is hoping this will happen before his 80th birthday in May next year. "If that mass prediction is right, it will be in the data very quickly," he says. "But there's a lot of analysis of the data to be done before you announce it, and that's what takes the time." Many physicists believe the confirmation could win Higgs a Nobel prize, along with two other physicists who have made significant advances in the same field. The big hope for finding the Higgs boson - the particle that confers mass on the rest of matter - is the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN in Switzerland, a particle physics laboratory. By crunching together particles at high speed and energy, the machine is designed to recreate conditions that have not existed since just after the Big Bang. "This is a Genesis machine," theoretical physicist Professor Michio Kaku of City University in New York, says. "This machine will help us to unlock the secret of the origin of the universe." Finding the Higgs boson would add significantly to physicists' understanding of how matter is put together, the so-called standard model. But Higgs says the LHC is about much more than just the God particle (not his phrase, and one which he says embarrasses him). "The Higgs boson discovery is only one part of the program. There is vastly more for the machine to do." The collider consists of two concentric underground rings, 27kilometres in circumference spanning the border between France and Switzerland. Using powerful superconducting magnets, it will accelerate packets of particles to within a whisker of the speed of light. When these collide head-on they generate enough energy to rip matter apart. By collecting the subatomic shrapnel, the physicists can infer what that matter was composed of. Engineers will seal off the particle accelerator and cool it to -271.3degrees - the low temperature is required for the powerful magnets to work. They hope to switch on the first beam in a few weeks and the first collisions should happen by the end of the year. It will probably be 12 months before the LHC is at full power. "That subatomic fireball will actually reproduce the conditions that would have existed about a millionth of a second after the Big Bang," says Dr David Evans, of the University of Birmingham, England, who is working on one of the experiments. GUARDIAN This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2008/05/30/1211654321623.html --------------- Jusfiq Hadjar gelar Sutan Maradjo Lelo
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