Scientists may be preparing to announce Wednesday that they've found proof that the God particle, considered a key to understanding the great mysteries of the universe, exists.
If that's the case, scientists will have taken a huge step in understanding what is considered to be a key component of what makes up everything from humans to stars and planets, as well as the vast majority of the universe that is invisible.
"I agree that any reasonable outside observer would say, 'It looks like a discovery,'" British theoretical physicist John Ellis, a professor who has worked at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) since the 1970s, told the Associated Press. "We've discovered something which is consistent with being a Higgs."
Scientists appear to have found evidence that the particle exists but have not actually found the particle itself.
The Higgs boson, a subatomic particle, has long been a scientific mystery and a cornerstone of physics.
The particle is thought to be part of the explanation of why matter has mass, which, combined with gravity, gives objects weight. The Higgs particle, also known as the God particle, would give scientists a better understanding of the nature of the universe.
Researchers at CERN are set to announce their findings Wednesday. The physicists at the research are more reticent about the extent of their findings.
"We now have more than double the data we had last year," said Sergio Bertolucci, CERN's director of research and computing, in a statement. "That should be enough to see whether the trends we were seeing in the 2011 data are still there, or whether they've gone away. It's a very exciting time."
Late last year, researchers working at the CERN-run Large Hadron Collider, the world's largest particle collider located astride the Swiss/French border, said they had found "intriguing" signs that they were closing in on proving that the Higgs boson exists.
Last December, the scientists said they had not found definitive proof of the particle's existence. However, they said they might be able to prove it within a year.
Scientists working at the Hadron Collider, which went online in September 2008, are on a quest to answer some of the great mysteries of the universe, including proving the existence of Higgs boson, finding new dimensions and understanding dark matter and black holes.
Smashing subatomic particles inside the 17-mile underground collider creates showers of new particles is believed to replicate conditions in the universe just moments after its conception.
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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