Scientists emerged from their particle-smashers on Tuesday to let the world know that they still haven't found the Higgs boson—the so-called "God particle" that could explain why objects have mass—and that they still need a few more months, at least, to find this totally real thing that is not an excuse for physicists to throw lavish parties inside the enormous CERN dome with all that grant money:
The putative particle weighs in at about 125 billion electron volts, about 125 times heavier than a proton and 500,000 times heavier than an electron, according to one team of 3,000 physicists, known as Atlas, for the name of their particle detector. The other equally large team, known as C.M.S. - for their detector, the Compact Muon Solenoid - found bumps in their data corresponding to a mass of about 126 billion electron volts.
The Atlas result has a chance of less than one part in 5,000 of being due to a lucky background noise, which is impressive but far short of the standard for a "discovery," which requires one in 3.5 million odds of being a random fluctuation. Showing off one striking bump in the data, Ms. Gianotti said, "If we are just being lucky, it will take a lot of data to kill it."
"Uhh, yeah... a billion zillion electron volts," said a spokesperson, who was wearing sunglasses and wiping a white powder from his nose. "Just make sure you keep sending us money to find the, uh, the God thing. We need till at least June. Also, we need Kanye West to... help. With the electron... doodad. It's really important."
[NYT, image via AP]