A Higgs boson is an elementary particle whose direct existence is predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics, but proved to be difficult to observe. It serves a key role in attempting to explain the origin of mass of other elementary particles of the Standard Model. Some writers believe that proof of the particle's existence will help undermine belief in Creationism,  hence the nickname "God particle".
It has been indirectly observed with only a probability of certainty of 4 standard deviations by the Large Hadron Collider, and 5 standard deviations (which is equivalent to a certainty of approximately 99.9999667%) by ATLAS - particle accelerators based at CERN in Switzerland. Physicist Leon Lederman coined the term "Goddamn Particle" to describe the Higgs boson.
On July 4, 2012, Physicists at CERN announced the observation of a particle whose properties are consistent with mathematical predictions relating to the Higgs boson. However, CERN has yet to definitively state that the particle they observed is, in fact, the Higgs. The particle cannot, technically, be confirmed to exist with certainty - and therefore the best that can be said is a new particle has been discovered, the observed properties of the particle are consistent with those predicted of Higgs boson. The process now begins to determine the precise mechanism by which the Higgs boson confers mass, as its existence has been confirmed to the level of accuracy deemed necessary to constitute discovery. That level of accuracy is the "5 sigma test", that says that the probability that the discovery was a statistical fluke is less than one in a million.
The Higgs boson is a boson, whose group includes other fundamental building blocks of the universe, such as photons. The Higgs boson, however, is unique in that it allows mass, under the Higgs theory, in the Standard Model. It is believed to be around 125 GeV (Gigaelectronvolt) in mass.
2012 CERN discovery
In July 2012 CERN announced evidence of discovery of a boson with an energy level and other properties consistent with those expected in a Higgs boson. The available data raised a high statistical likelihood that the Higgs boson had been detected. This high statistical likelihood is due, in part, to the separate obtaining by two distinct teams of data within the realm of statistical error for the predicted properties of the Higgs.
Reaction in the popular press and blogosphere
Perhaps spurred by the seeming religious significance of the phrase, some bloggers and authors have apparently gone out of their way to disparage the discovery.
- Higgs boson: so what?, written by a Conservapedia author.
- "It will certainly be amusing if it turns out that the scientific media is reading the tea leaves wrong and CERN is summoning famous particle physicists to Switzerland in order to announce the failure of the Standard Model. But that won't be half so hilarious as if their announcement of the proof of Higgs boson is eventually followed by a reluctant admission that it doesn't actually exist in spite of all their sigmas." written by Thomas Beale, a blogger for Vox Day.
Other bloggers quickly responded to the latter, with statistical evidence.
- "Ignorance is Blitz" from science writer Phil Plait.
Scientists at ATLAS have confirmed that there is a 99.99996% likelihood that the July 2012 particle observed is indeed the Higgs boson. Whether it is the Higgs boson is largely a matter of semantics, and will have to wait until its properties are elucidated more.
- The Higgs Boson. Retrieved on 2018-12-20.
- Evidence of Higgs Boson 'God Particle' Disproves Religion or Supports Creation?. Retrieved on 2018-12-20.
- Here’s what scientists really wanted to call the world’s most famous particle. Retrieved on 2018-12-20.
- Lederman L., The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What Is the Question?, New York:Dell, 1993
- What Today's Higgs Boson Discovery Really Means. Retrieved on 2018-12-20.
- New results indicate that particle discovered at CERN is a Higgs boson. Retrieved on 2018-12-20.
- Mailvox: By George, they've got it
- Has the "God particle" been found? by Creation Ministries International
- CERN experiments observe particle consistent with long-sought higgs boson. A short, if jargon filled overview on the Higgs Boson.
- "God particle" by PPsimmons
- BBC Radio 4: In Our Time " Higgs Boson - the search for the God particle"