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Scientists one step closer to identifying 'God particle'

Based on two ongoing particle detector experiments, scientists at CERN have made progress in finding proof for the existence of an elementary particle that would explain a lot about the way the universe works.

An illustration showing the collision of atomic nuclei

Elementary particles can reveal physical mysteries

Physicists at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research near Geneva, have revealed the latest status of their research into the possible existence of the Higgs boson - a hypothetical elementary particle nicknamed the "God particle" - at a seminar held at the CERN headquarters in Geneva on Tuesday.

The findings are based on the ATLAS and CMS experiments, but at this stage summarized as inconclusive.

According a statement released on the CERN Web site, the key conclusion is that the Standard Model Higgs boson, if it exists, is most likely to have a mass constrained to the range 116-130 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) by the ATLAS experiment, and 115-127 GeV by CMS. One GeV is a unit of energy equal to one billion electron volts.

Further research is necessary

The statement emphasizes that the discovery of this likely mass range is not enough to declare the particle as discovered.

"We have restricted the most likely mass region for the Higgs boson to 116-130 GeV, and over the last few weeks we have started to see an intriguing excess of events in the mass range around 125 GeV," explained ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti in the statement. "This excess may be due to a fluctuation, but it could also be something more interesting. We cannot conclude anything at this stage."

The scientists have been using the $10-billion Large Hadron Collider (LHC) - the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator - for their research. The particle's existence was first predicted by British physicist Peter Higgs in the 1960s, as part of the Standard Model of particle physics. If found, it would help explain why other particles can have mass.

According to CERN, a definitive statement on the existence or non-existence of the Higgs boson will require more data, and is not likely until later in 2012.

Author: Eva Wutke

Editor: Cyrus Farivar

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