Stephen Hawking loses $100 bet on 'God particle'
Stephen Hawking, University of Cambridge
Published Thursday, July 5, 2012 9:22AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 5, 2012 9:41AM EDT
Stephen Hawking may be a genius. But Britain’s famed theoretical physicist can still be wrong once in a while.
Seventy-year-old Hawking shared a wry and somewhat surprising lament with the world on Wednesday.
That complaint came after scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced that they had discovered a new sub-atomic particle that seemed to be consistent with the elusive Higgs boson -- a theoretical particle that hadlong been believed to confer mass to everything in our universe.
In an interview with the BBC on Wednesday, Hawking said he never thought this discovery would occur.
Hawking even placed a $100 wager on it.
Now the former Cambridge University professor is eating some proverbial crow after CERN’s announcement that confirmed the Higgs boson with a high level of certainty.
“I had a bet with Gordon Kane of Michigan University that that the Higgs particle wouldn't be found. It seems I have just lost 100 dollars," Hawking said in the BBC interview.
“The results sent from a lab in America and CERN in Switzerland strongly suggest that we have found the Biggs particle, the particle that gives mass to other particles,” said Hawking.
This discovery is one of major importance, according to Hawking.
“If the decay and other interactions of this particle are as we expect, it will be strong evidence for the so-called standard model of particle physics, the theory that explains all our experiments so far,” he said.
The world’s leading physicists now face years of painstaking work to unlock the potential in this breakthrough discovery.
But like Hawking, other scientists also had their doubts about the Higgs boson particle -- one that some scientists have called the “God particle.”
British physicist Peter Higgs, 83, first proposed the concept for the Higgs boson in the 1960s.
Scientists at the time rejected Higgs’ theory that an invisible field was spread across the universe and could actually give mass to the building blocks of the universe.
Despite the rejection, Higgs, then a 34-year-old physicist at Edinburgh University, persevered with his work though he was unable to prove it.
Decades later, CERN’s announcement has given new validation to Higgs’ theory.
CERN’s discovery of anew sub-atomic particle could also help science understand how the universe began.
“This is an important result, and Peter Higgs should be rewarded with a Nobel prize,” Hawking said.