OSU Physicists Contribute To Nobel Work - NBC4: Columbus, Ohio News, Weather, and Sports (WCMH-TV)

OSU Physicists Contribute To Nobel Work

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On Tuesday, seminal researchers Francois Englert and Peter Higgs received the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering a subatomic particle last year that proved a theory, proposed 30 years ago, about the foundation of everything around us.

OSU physicists have been involved in the hunt for the elusive "God particle" for nearly 20 years, and contributed to the work that detected traces of the tiny particle for the first time last year.  The major discovery was made in the Large Hadron Collider in Cern, Switzerland.

OSU physicist Stan Durkin explained how scientists at the university "helped build the detector that found the God particle.  We built over 3,000 parts."

Physicists long thought particles whizzing through the universe gain mass from a single particle, much like the first snowflakes that collects more snowflakes and clumps into a snowball that we toss around--termed by scientists as Higgs boson (after Peter Higgs). OSU physicist Richard Hughes likened the process to shooting a particle from a gun. 

The particle is initially unimpeded and sails on its way, Hughes said.  But, "If, instead, you shot that particle into, let's say, a vat of molasses, the bullet would slow down.  And what that molasses has done has effectively given that bullet mass.  That's what this God particle is supposed to do."

Hughes colleague, Christopher Hill, says the finding the subatomic particle is hardly the end of the line for researchers.  "Now that we've discovered the Higgs boson, there are other questions about the universe that we're pursuing with this facility in Geneva.  We'd like to understand dark matter, dark energy--mysterious components of the universe."

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