Chasing the Higgs
Vivek Sharma missed his daughter.
A professor at the University of California, San Diego, Dr. Sharma had to spend months at a time away from home, coordinating a team of physicists at the Large Hadron Collider, here just outside Geneva. But on April 15, 2011, Meera Sharmaâ€™s 7th birthday, he flew to California for some much-needed family time. â€œWe had a fine birthday, a beautiful day,â€ he recalled.
Then Dr. Sharma was alerted to a blog post. There it was reported that a rival team of physicists had beaten his team to the discovery of the Higgs boson â€” the long-sought â€œGod particle.â€
If his rivals were right, it would mean a cascade of Nobel Prizes flowing in the wrong direction and, even more vexingly, that Dr. Sharma and his colleagues had missed one of natureâ€™s clues and thus one of its greatest prizes; that the dream of any physicist â€” to know something that nobody else has ever known â€” was happening to someone else.