Physics breakthrough leaves Stephen Hawking out of pocket

Natasha Lloyd– News Reporter 7 July 2012

The discovery of what experts have deemed the “God Particle” has left Cambridge fellow, Stephen Hawking’s wallet feeling a little lighter.

A decade ago Hawking, who is the Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology in Cambridge, placed a $100 wager with his University of Michigan colleague Gordon Kane that the Higgs boson would not be found. Six years ago, Kane admitted defeat and sent Hawking a cheque. But on Wednesday, The European Centre for Nuclear Research (better known as CERN) announced the discovery of what is claimed to be evidence of the existence of this long-theorized particle at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva.

In an interview with the BBC, Hawking described the breakthrough as “an important result” that “should earn Peter Higgs the Nobel Prize.” He added, however, that “it is a pity in a way, because the great advances in physics have come from experiments that gave results we didn’t expect.” He concluded with a smile: “it seems I’ve just lost $100.”

Katie Holmes, a first year Physical Natural Scientist student from Selwyn reckoned “the bet was a win-win situation” for Hawking who “can’t be upset with losing $100” and added “this truly is one of the great ages of science.” David Broder-Rogers, who studies the same subject, quipped that “if Hawking was really interested in making money, he should have placed a bet on something that wouldn’t require the Standard Model to be reconsidered.”

Although Kane and his colleagues will be celebrating this advance in our understanding of the universe, scientists have said they need at least three or four years to make sure the particle really is the Higgs boson. The director of CERN Rolf Heuer claimed: “as a layman, I think we have it. But as a scientist, I have to say, ‘What do we have?'”

Natasha Lloyd– News Reporter