A landmark day (not only) in CERN's history

Today, the ATLAS and CMS experiments announced that they had observed a new particle. We don’t yet know what that particle is, but it is consistent with the long-sought Higgs boson, and work will soon be underway to positively identify it. Days like this do not come around very often, and it’s a cause for celebration.


Today we are privileged to be joined by many important guests, including some of the early authors of electroweak symmetry breaking: Peter Higgs, François Englert, Gerry Guralnik and Carl Hagen. We also have around 100 representatives of the media here to cover the event, and finally lay to rest the speculation and anticipation that has been building over the last few weeks.

Now that we have the discovery, we need to thoroughly investigate all the properties of this new particle to establish whether it is the Higgs boson that completes the Standard Model, or something more exotic. The Standard Model is a beautiful theory that accounts for the fundamental particles that make up the visible universe, and all their interactions with the exception of gravity. We know, however, that the visible universe is only about 4% of the total. A more exotic version of the Higgs particle could be a bridge to understanding the 96% of the universe that remains obscure.

The fact that we have reached this point so quickly has come as a surprise even to me, and it’s thanks to the incredible work of everyone involved in the LHC programme. Your efforts have delivered the data, processed and analysed them with efficiency unthinkable just one generation of experiments ago. The LHC and all the infrastructure that supports it continue to perform beyond all expectations. Analyses are refined at a breathtaking rate: it’s been fascinating to see how the signal at 125-126 GeV has evolved over the last 12 months from a whisper to a shout. And the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid continues to take all this comfortably in its stride.

I’d like to thank all of you for today. I am no longer directly involved in the research, but thanks to your efforts, I have a most privileged position to see science history in the making.

Rolf Heuer