Powerful symmetry principles have guided physicists in their quest for nature's fundamental laws, The successful gauge theory of electroweak interactions postulates a more extensive symmetry for its equations than are manifest in the world. The discrepancy is ascribed to a pervasive symmetry-breaking field, whicti fills all space uniformly, rendering the Universe a sort of exotic superconductor. So far, the evidence for these bold ideas is indirect. But soon the theory will undergo a critical test depending on whether the quanta of this symmetry-breaking field, the so-called Higgs particles, are produced at the Large Hadran Collider (due to begin operation in 2007).
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