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Particle physics field excited by potential Higgs boson discovery (+video)

Physicists around the world are thrilled at Wednesdays announcement of the discovery of a Higgs boson-like particle, which could complete the Standard Model of particle physics. 

By Jeanna BrynerLiveScience Managing Editor / July 5, 2012

British physicist Peter Higgs, right, congratulates Fabiola Gianotti, ATLAS experiment spokesperson, after her results presentation during a scientific seminar to deliver the latest update in the search for the Higgs boson at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin near Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday.

Denis Balibouse/AP

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Physicists are thrilled at today's (July 4) announcement of the discovery of a new elementary particle that is likely the Higgs boson, an elusive particle thought to give all other matter its mass.

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Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln describes the nature of the Higgs boson. Several large experimental groups are hot on the trail of this elusive subatomic particle which is thought to explain the origins of particle mass

"To me it's really an incredible thing that it's happened in my lifetime," Peter Higgs, the leader of the group that first theorized the particle in 1964 and after whom the particle is named, said during a press conference Wednesday (July 4).

Evidence for the new particle was reported today by scientists from the world's largest atom smasher, the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. Researchers reported they'd seen a particle weighing roughly 125 times the mass of the proton, with a level of certainty that all but seals the deal it's the Higgs boson. The Higgs represents the last undiscovered particle predicted by the Standard Model, the reigning theory of particle physics.

Physicists involved in two experiments called CMS and ATLAS taking place at the world's largest particle accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), reported evidence of the particle at a seminar and press briefing today.

"As a layman I would say 'We have it,' but as a scientist I would have to say 'What do we have?' We have discovered a boson and now we have to discover what kind of boson it is," CERN Director General Rolf Heuer said during the press briefing. [Top 5 Implications of Finding the Higgs Boson]

Even so, elation abounded with loud applause after the seminar talks.

"It is a momentous event and I am proud to be living in these historic times. Our 40-year quest for solving a puzzle is almost ending," Brown University professor of physics Meenakshi Narain told LiveScience. "Now we have to find out if this new particle really is the Higgs of the Standard Model or has properties which deviate from standard expectations and if there are other new particles to be discovered."

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