Sheffield’s role in Big Bang research

The Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland
The Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland
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AFTER decades of searching, scientists in Sheffield have helped to discover the ‘God particle’ - which physicists believe holds the fabric of the universe together.

Researchers from The University of Sheffield have played a role in the greatest hunt in modern science, for the obscure but vital Higgs Boson particle.

For 50 years they have been trying to recreate the particle they believe existed in a billionth of second after the birth of the universe.

Particle physicist Prof Dan Tovey, who led the Sheffield team, said: “This is potentially the biggest breakthrough in fundamental physics for at least 30 years.”

The Higgs Boson particle existed only fleetingly after the Big Bang before decaying - but gives mass and weight to all matter, a vital part of physicists’ theory of how particles, forces and interactions make up the universe.

In presentations given to packed auditoriums around the world yesterday, researchers said they had finally spotted the new particle amid microscopic flashes of fire created inside the world’s largest scientific machine.

They have been smashing atoms together inside the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva - the £2.6bn ‘Big Bang’ machine that is designed to recreate the hot conditions that existed at the birth of the universe.

Some 10,000 scientists from 100 countries have played a role in the discovery.

The news was relayed via a live web link to Sheffield University’s Hick’s Building, on the edge of the city centre.

Prof Tovey added: “These results provide the most stringent test so far of the standard model of particle physics, which represents in a single equation our understanding of how the universe works.

“The focus of our work will now turn to measuring precisely the properties of the new particle.”