Teams of Physicists Closing in on the ‘God Particle’

A thousand physicists working at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., reported in Paris on Monday that they had not found the “God particle,” yet. But they are beginning to figure out where it is not.

Its mass — in the units preferred by physicists — is not in the range between 158 billion and 175 billion electron volts, according to a talk by Ben Kilminster of Fermilab at the International Conference on High Energy Physics in Paris.

And so the most intensive particle hunt in the history of physics goes on.

Over the last decade physicists working on two separate experiments at Fermilab have combed the debris from a thousand trillion (1 with 15 zeros) collisions of protons and anti-protons looking for signs of the Higgs boson, which is said to be responsible for imbuing some other elementary particles with mass. Rumors fanned by a blogger that the Higgs, dubbed the “God particle,” by former Fermilab director Leon Lederman in a book of the same name, had been detected reached all the way to Gawker last week and focused attention on the Paris conference, which also featured a speech by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.

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