Let’s start with a brief backgrounder for those who are not familiar CERN. CERN abbreviation stands for the European Organization for Nuclear Research, an international science agency established by a number of European member states in Switzerland, in 1954. Since its foundation, CERN’s operations and membership have grown rapidly and it now employs approximately 2400 full time employees. It is currently operating the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. Apart from the most connected and curious, there were not many who knew of CERN’s existence before it successfully built and run the Large Hadron Collider (LHD), the world’s largest and highest energy particle accelerator in 2008. Built and maintained by advanced computer technology at an unprecedented scale, it holds an important place in the history of science.
CERN’s most covered project is named after the organization itself and has become an object of global popular culture in the last four years. Using LHD and other advanced physics technology, it is currently testing theoretical predictions of different theories of particle physics, particularly for the existence of the hypothesized Higgs boson. Since CERN’s findings address the most sought-after questions of physics and therefore the deepest laws of nature, stakes are very high for humanity as a whole.
Higgs boson (HB), commonly referred to as the God Particle in news articles, is an indispensible variable in the Standard Model of particle physics. The Standard Model is a fundamental theory that tries to decipher the interactions mediating the dynamics of the known sub-atomic particles. Although HB fills a crucial void in the model and scientists just assume its presence, its existence is yet to be proven. Given that the Big Bang Theory, the prevailing scientific model explaining the early development of the Universe, relies on the Standard Model, HB could simply be the answer to how the universe came to existence. Let’s open that up a little bit.
Following the principles of the Standard Model, scientists deduce that the Big Bang resulted in the dissemination of innumerable high energy particles with no mass. It is thought that Higgs particles were involved in the process by which these high energy particles assumed mass, in plain English, existence. This is why Higgs boson is fittingly called the God Particle. CERN scientists have been emulating post-Big Bang conditions till they gather enough data to prove the existence of the God Particle. In a previous press conference, CERN announced that they need more data in order to make any scientifically acceptable declaration concerning existence of the God Particle. If CERN scientists have gathered adequate statistically meaningful data, they might announce that they solved the greatest mystery of human existence on July 4. We will all have to wait till July 4th when we will turn on our laptops and follow CERN’s presentation with pounding hearts.