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Discovery of the Higgs boson

opening the door to new physics Scotland,

Peter Higgs stands in front of a huge machine which fills a large chamber.
Peter Higgs visiting the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment in 2008, which it was hoped would find the elusive Higgs boson. CERN Image Archive

On 4 July 2012, physicists at CERN announced the discovery of a particle consistent with the long-sought Higgs boson. The particle represented the final piece of the ‘standard model’ - a framework of theory developed in the late 20th century that describes the interactions of all known subatomic particles and forces, with the exception of gravity. 

The standard model accommodates many other particles - such as quarks and W bosons - each of which has been found in the last four decades using vast particle colliders. But the Higgs had remained elusive. The Higgs boson is critical to the standard model because interacting with the Higgs field is what gives other particles their mass. Not finding it would have undermined current theories about the universe. 

The discovery of the Higgs boson was the result of an international effort, including many British scientists running experiments using the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland. However, only one of those who predicted the existence of the particle in the 1960s, Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh, is now synonymous with the quest. 

Science Museum

Decade
Type
Physics,
Region
Scotland
Location
The University of Edinburgh
Key Individuals
CERN, Peter Higgs,