Finding the “God Particle,” the Inside Story

Many will remember the news flashing around the globe last July 4th when physicists at the Large Hadron Collider outside Geneva broke out the champagne as they announced the discovery of the long-sought after Higgs Boson particle, dubbed the “God Particle” by the popular media. Peter Higgs of the University of Edingburgh, back in 1964 had theorized that a secret invisible force field was at the core of the universe, giving everything else its existence. A handful of other physics theorists had further contributed to this elusive possibility. The July 4th confirmation of the “Standard Theory” of physics was by some account the big news of 2012–and perhaps of the New Millennium. Understanding it as a non-spet is another matter.

Illustration by Sean McCabe/Photographs by David Ahntholz and Michal Czerwonka for The New York Times

Today’s New York Times “Science” section has a lengthy but marvelous feature story, “Chasing the Higgs Boson,” on the discovery and the years of effort that went into its confirmation. It is well worth an hour to read through, as much for trying to better understand the complex physics  and how our universe works, as for fascinating glimpse at the international team of personalities at CERN–the European Council for Nuclear Research–who were responsible for the breakthrough.