AFTER decades of searching, scientists in Sheffield have helped discover the ‘God particle’ - the sub-atomic particle that 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.
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 a packed auditoriums around the world this morning, the leaders of the research teams said they had finally spotted the new particle amid the microscopic flashes of primordial fire created inside the world’s largest scientific machine.
They stopped short of claiming official discovery of the Higgs Boson - but conceded the evidence was now so compelling they had surely found the missing particle.
They have been smashing atoms together inside the £2.6 billion Large Hadron Collider in Geneva - the ‘Big Bang’ machine designed to recreate the hot conditions that existed at the birth of the universe.
Some 10,000 scientists from 100 different countries have played a role in the discovery.
The news was relayed via a live web link to staff and students at Sheffield University’s Hick’s Building, on the edge of the city centre.
Prof Dan Tovey, who led the Sheffield team of researchers, said: “This is potentially the biggest breakthrough in fundamental physics for at least 30 years.
“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 at the smallest distance scales.
“The focus of our work will now turn to measuring precisely the properties of the new particle, confirming they match those expected for the Higgs Boson.
“This will help us to understand the implications of the discovery for new theories extending the Standard Model to even smaller scales.
“Many years of hard work will be required to exploit the full power of the data for understanding how the universe began and how it works today.”
Science Minister David Willetts said: “This news is a breakthrough in world science.
“The UK has made an enormous contribution over the last 20 years supporting the search for the Higgs Boson.
“Our researchers, universities and industry partners have been instrumental in making the Large Hadron Collider such a success.
“They deserve recognition for their contribution to this scientific milestone that will change the way we look at the universe from now on.
“And of course Professor Higgs of Edinburgh University has now secured his place in history.”