God particle discovery due within months

Fri, Apr 27, 2012, 01:00

A WEST Belfast-born engineer who is director of accelerators and technology at the Cern particle physics laboratory in Geneva has predicted that one of the key secrets of the universe will be discovered in a matter of months.

Dr Stephen Myers told an engineers’ conference in Belfast yesterday that evidence for the existence or non-existence of the Higgs boson – the so-called God particle – could be discovered as early as August and by October at the latest.

The Higgs boson was the remaining “big building block” to be discovered in terms of how to explain mass, said Dr Myers, during the course of his keynote lecture to the Engineers Ireland conference at the Europa Hotel in Belfast, and in an interview with The Irish Times. “It completes the standard model for mass,” he said.

During the course of his lecture on the 27km Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Cern, Dr Myers told the engineers that ongoing experiments at the collider should provide the answer as to whether the Higgs boson does or does not exist. He believed evidence would be found for its existence and this in turn would provide further important insights into the Big Bang, the creation of the universe, that scientists say happened about 13.7 billion years ago.

“If it does not exist there will be enough data to show that the Higgs is excluded and that there must be another mechanism for mass. I am confident that we will find the Higgs by August or September of this year,” he said.

Dr Myers said a very high standard of proof was required. “You only declare a discovery when you can say there is only a one in a million chance that you are wrong,” he said.

He believed that Cern would establish proof for the Higgs boson to a standard of a “one in two million chance of being wrong”.