Early Wednesday morning, researchers at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) announced they’ve almost certainly discovered the Higgs boson particle. That’s the so-called “God particle” physicists have thought existed, but have had trouble proving. A local graduate student had a hand in the research: Jamie Saxon. He and his roommates waited in line for eight hours at a CERN auditorium in Geneva to make sure they had seats for the big announcement.
“So I slept one hour last night and I need to take a nap,” laughed Saxon. The Swarthmore native and University of Pennsylvania graduate student has been working on Higgs boson research since he was 15 years old. Now 24, he’s been living full-time at CERN for the last year. “When I first knew that we had the Higgs it was incredibly exciting,” said Saxon. “To see it presented in all of its glory today was just absolutely overwhelming.”Saxon says it’s not exactly a done deal, though. The findings are “consistent” with a Higgs boson, but there’s more work to do. “Imagine if you’re looking for a friend in the woods,” Saxon said. “You’ll see that there’s a person approaching, and you’ll see that there’s something there long before you can distinguish the specific features.” In the science world, and certainly in Saxon’s world, this discovery is a big, big deal. But what about for the rest of us?
“The discovery is not going to change your life,” Saxon said. “It didn’t really change your life when we landed on the moon, either. So my hope for today is just that the average Joe thinks that this is awesome.”