MELBOURNE will be the accidental centre of the universe next week, ground zero for what could be the greatest announcement in physics for half a century.
More than 700 leading physicists are gathering for their biannual conference amid feverish speculation that the almost mythical sub-atomic particle that gives the universe its mass - the Higgs boson, or the so-called "God particle" - has been found.
Science buffs are calling it Higgsteria. It took a meltdown by the world's biggest machine, CERN'S Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland, to put Melbourne in the spotlight.
The discovery was expected to be announced at the last conference, in Paris, but the chance was missed when 50 giant magnets blew up, setting research back.
"That's how we got lucky, by accident," conference deputy chairman Prof Ray Volkas said.
The "God particle" has been a mystery for almost 50 years and the $9 billion collider was built to find it by smashing particles together at near light speed to create Big Bang conditions.
It has been the longest and most expensive search in the history of science.
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