CNN Sci-Tech December 4, 2001

Physicists: No sign of 'God particle'


LONDON, England --After years of searching and months of sifting through data, scientists have still not found the elusive subatomic particle that could help to unravel the secrets of the universe, a science magazine reported Wednesday.

The Higgs boson, the missing link that could explain why matter has mass and other fundamental laws of particle physics, is still missing -- and physicists fear it may not exist.

"It's more likely than not that there is no Higgs," John Swain, of Northeastern University in Boston, told New Scientist magazine.

Scientists have been searching for the Higgs particle ever since Peter Higgs of Edinburgh University first proposed in the 1960s that it could explain why matter has mass.

Using the world's largest particle accelerator at the CERN nuclear physics lab near Geneva, scientists had hunted for the Higgs boson, which has been dubbed the "God particle," until the accelerator was closed late last year.

Accelerators hurl particles at nearly the speed of light on a collision course to break them up so scientists can study the nature of matter.

Scientists of the Electroweak Working Group at CERN, who had searched for the Higgs, said they had found no evidence of it at the energies where they had expected to find it.

"We've eliminated most of the hunting area," Neil Calder, or CERN, told the magazine.

New Scientist said the problem for physicists is that, without the Higgs particle, they do not have a viable theory of matter.

CERN adjourned the search for the Higgs when it closed the Large Electron-Positron accelerator, but it is building a Large Hadron Collider that will be able to smash particles at even higher energies in 2007.

File Date: 012.10.01