Scientists said Thursday that they believe they have discovered the elusive Higgs boson particle, sometimes called "the God particle," that is theorized to be a crucial building block of the universe.
It is an important development not only because it explains why sub-atomic particles have mass but also because it highlights the value of the collaborative spirit that led to its discovery.
The announcement is a step forward from July, according to Philippe DiStefano from Queens University in Kingston, Ont., when physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider near the French-Swiss border said they had found a particle that was "consistent" with the Higgs boson.
"They’re sort of pinning down the properties of the particle a bit better than they did initially," says DiStefano, an associate professor of physics and astronomy.
According to a release from the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, determining whether the discovery was in fact the Higgs boson depends on its quantum properties and how it interacts with other particles. After going through their entire data set from 2012, the results "strongly indicate" they have found the elusive particle.
"The Higgs field is everywhere around us, and all particles are moving in the presence of this field," said William Trischuk, a professor of physics at the University of Toronto. All these particles "interact more or less strongly with it, and they are either slowed down or not slowed down so much and that's what gives them mass."
"The heavier ones interact strongly with this field and the light ones interact very weakly with this field."
Trischuk is part of the ATLAS collaboration, which is one of two experiments seeking out the Higgs using the Large Hadron Collider.
"We hate calling it the God particle but the reason it picked that up is because it goes out and touches every other