Friendly competition?

December 21, 2000

The hunt for the Higgs boson is a race only in the mind of the media, particle physicists insist. They label the rivalry between Europe's Cern and the United States' Fermi Lab as friendly competition. So the Europeans' decision to shut down the large electron-positron collider, despite claims that it was on the brink of unveiling the particle, must have been mourned by their US counterparts?

Er, not exactly. Fermi Lab spokesman John Womersley described two years of watching LEP get close to Higgs thus: "It was like standing outside the restaurant, looking through the window and watching others have dinner. Now it is our turn."

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