SEATTLE -- Physics professors and students at the University of Washington were thrilled with Wednesday's announcement that scientists had identified a subatomic particle called the Higgs boson -- dubbed the God particle by some.

For me, this is the discovery of a lifetime, said UW professor Anna Goussiou. We are a big step closer to understanding the beginning of the universe.

UW's particle physics program actually works on Higgs boson experiments at the giant particle collider in Geneva. And during the next several years, researchers here will play a role in studying the newly identified particle.

We are, for the first time, seeing how it is that the universe generates mass, said UW professor Gordon Watts. It's a fundamental piece of how the universe works. If you don't know how mass is generated, you know that much less about the universe.

About 150 people filled a Seattle bar late Tuesday (into early Wednesday) to watch the announcement from Switzerland.

The whole bar burst out, Watts said. There were oohs and ahhs, and there was clapping.

Watch the video above to view an illustration of the Higgs boson particle.

See a photo gallery here.

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