The God Particle...
Physicists from all over the world are racing to prove the existence of a particle that's surmised to be at the heart of the matter. Literally.
Dubbed the "God particle" by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman, the Higgs boson is a controversial particle believed to bestow mass on all other particles.
Scientists are hoping to discover traces of its presence in Fermilab's Tevatron, a 7-mile-long circumference particle accelerator that smashes opposing beams of protons and antiprotons around a circular track, sifting through the debris with two immense detectors called CDF and D0.
Because it plays a key role in the standard model of physics (the theory on which physicists base their whole understanding of matter), proving the existence or absence of the Higgs boson could rock the entire foundation of physics, indicating the existence of particles and forces not yet imagined and paving the way for an entirely new set of laws.
"The Higgs boson is interesting because it is the only reasonable explanation we have for the origin of mass," says Dave Rainwater, a researcher at FermiLab. "Without the Higgs, all fundamental particles would be massless, and the universe would be very different. The weak nuclear forces wouldn't be weak at all, for instance, so the elemental composition of the cosmos would be radically different, stars would shine differently, and we probably wouldn't exist."