Nightly News   |  July 04, 2012

Scientists say God particle discovered

A group of scientists claim they've discovered a subatomic particle that closely matches the description of the fabled Higgs boson. NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo reports.

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>>> now to a find that is as big as it gets in the world of science. think back to your high school physics class. remember how there are subatomic particles like neutrons and protons? you can't see it or touch it. tonight scientists are celebrating the discovery of something unbelievably tiny that is huge. they call it the god particle . the subatomic thing that has long been believed to give all matter in the universe its size and shape. just how big a deal is it? here is mara schiavocampo.

>> reporter: the announcement in geneva, hailed as one of the biggest scientific discoveries in our time.

>> this is big.

>> reporter: the long sought holy grail of subatomic world.

>> we physicist believes we have finally found the higgs boson .

>> the what?

>> we think a particle like the higgs boson was actually the match that set off this cosmic explosion which created everything we see around us including the earth and even us.

>> reporter: the higgs boson , unscientifically named the god particle . the missing piece to a theory of the university receive and the payoff to one of the most extensive searches in scientific history . thousands of physicists, billions of dollars, and the world's biggest machine. the large hadron collider , 27 miles long outside geneva. the particle's existence was first theorized by peter higgs in 1964 . now 83, an emotional higgs was there for today's announcement.

>> it's really an incredible thing that it's happened in my lifetime.

>> reporter: the world of science is celebrating today's announcement, many of the rest of us are just trying to understand it.

>> i'm assuming from the look on your face, $1,000 on the table you couldn't tell us what matter is.

>> i had four years. there's a lot of knowledge out there. i may have missed some things.

>> reporter: there are plenty of internet videos that try to be helpful.

>> reporter: hoping to make what's complicated simple.

>> now, let's take another empty universe and fill it with our higgs field . here is our higgs field .

>> reporter: even the experts are still fixing it out.

>> it means there could be other universes. there could be a multi-verse of universes and that's what the next generation of physicists are going to look into.

>> reporter: a discovery that has opened a door. scientists now hope to find out what's on