x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Know-it-all physicists

So is there a Higgs Boson particle, or not? Scientists still aren't perfectly sure.

Today, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva will hold a media conference at which they are expected to reveal Earth-shattering news that will fundamentally change our understanding of life, the universe and everything. Or not.

Speculation is rife in scientific circles, and on the internet, that the boffins will announce the existence of the elusive Higgs boson particle, which they've been chasing for almost 50 years. At the very least, we're told, they will say it "probably" does exist.

In theoretical physics, scientists look at the way things are and create hypothetical frameworks to explain how they came to be. In very simple terms, it's a jigsaw puzzle with some pieces missing. If you can find one of the pieces, you're closer to creating the full picture.

If the Higgs boson is found, it will confirm the "standard model" of particle physics - but it won't be the end of the matter, because the standard model doesn't explain everything. It is merely a step towards a "grand unified theory" that will keep physicists busy for many years to come.

From a layperson's perspective, today's announcement could shed light on the potential existence of parallel universes, "dark matter" and higher dimensions, and explain whether time travel is possible. Or not.