A technician looks at collision at the CMS experiment in the control room of the LHC at the CERN near Geneva. (Photo : REUTERS/Denis Balibouse)
There's a buzz in the scientific community that hasn't been felt in a long time. Physicists around the world are eagerly awaiting the European Organization for Nuclear Research's (CERN) July 4 press conference that might announce the official "inkling" of the elusive Higgs boson particle that supposedly gives other particles mass.
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The CERN researchers will most likely not state that they have actually seen the Higgs boson particle, but rather have seen indications of it. The statement, however, is likely to be backed with more data than a mysterious bigfoot footprint sighting.
If the Higgs boson is going to be claimed to exist tomorrow, the scientists will need a 5-sigma level of assurance, meaning that the odds the results were produced by chance will be less than 1 in 3.5 million. This will also likely be the biggest discovery in physics in the last century.
So what exactly is the Higgs boson particle?
A popular way scientists describe the Higgs boson particle is with the analogy of syrup.
There are many fields that exist everywhere and constantly affect particles even though we cannot see it such as the electromagnetic field. Think of the 'Higgs field' as being a very thick syrup through which all matter passes through. When passing through the 'Higgs field,' particles get encumbered by the syrup, and get heavier.
"All elementary particles get their masses from their interactions with the [Higgs] field, kind of like being 'slowed down' by passing through a thick syrup," said James Overduin, a physicist at Towson University in Maryland to Fox News.
Particles such as gluons and photons are the only ones we know of with no mass.
Scientists have long wondered what gives particles mass, and while they can measure the mass of particles, they cannot explain what a particle's mass would be using fundamental physics. One way to be able to do this is to understand how this 'Higgs field' works.
To even prove that the 'Higgs field' exists, scientists are looking for the Higgs boson particle, which would be an indicator of this permeating syrup that gives everything mass. The Higgs boson particle is very heavy (in theory) and requires very high energy to be seen. The current method is to use the Large Hadron Collider to smash particles together at near-light speeds and create enormous energy, and hopefully, give scientists a view at the Higgs boson particle.