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The hunt for 'God's particle'
James Randerson, Guardian 
June 2, 2008 
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 
"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 
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