'Dark universe' beckons as research target after Higgs boson wins Nobel

Tue Oct 8, 2013 2:54pm EDT
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By Robert Evans

GENEVA (Reuters) - With the Higgs boson in the bag, the head of the CERN research center urged scientists on Tuesday to push on to unveil the "dark universe" - the hidden stuff that makes up 95 per cent of the cosmos and is still a mystery to earthbound researchers.

Rolf Heuer spoke after the Nobel physics prize went to Briton Peter Higgs and Belgian Francois Englert for predicting the existence of the Higgs boson particle, which explains how fundamental matter got the mass to form stars and planets.

"We have now completed the Standard Model," Heuer told reporters, referring to the portrait of the known universe drafted in the 1980s.

"It is high time for us to go on to the dark universe," added the director general of the world's main institution focusing on the basic particles of nature, based near Geneva.

The Higgs boson and its associated force field were among the last major building blocks of that model of how the cosmos works.

Their existence was confirmed, after three decades, when the particle was seen last year in CERN's underground particle smasher, the giant Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

The LHC, now in the middle of a two-year refit and upgrade, is due to resume operations in early 2015 with its power doubled.

"That will open promising territory into new physics," Heuer's deputy Sergio Bertolucci said. New physics is the term used by scientists for the realms beyond the Standard Model that currently remain as elusive as science-fiction.   Continued...

British physicist Peter Higgs (R) shakes hands with Belgium physicist Francois Englert before a scientific seminar to deliver the latest update in the search for the Higgs boson at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin near Geneva July 4, 2012. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse