CERN physicists now pretty sure they've found Higgs boson

Researchers can't say for certain that a particle they discovered is the so-called "God particle," but the information they have "strongly indicates" it is.

Proton-proton collisions at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva show events consistent with Higgs boson. CERN

It's looking more likely that a particle CERN physicists discovered last year is the Higgs boson, researchers said today.

They cautioned it's not yet certain the particle is in fact the so-called "God particle" that can help explain how masses in the universe were formed. But this morning the leaders of the experiments running through the giant Large Hadron Collider said the analysis of more data -- two and a half times more, to be precise -- shows that the "new particle is looking more and more like a Higgs boson."

They also noted that it's still unclear whether the particle is the Higgs boson of the standard model of particle physics or possibly the lightest of several bosons predicted in some theories that go beyond the standard model.

Whether or not it's a Higgs boson is demonstrated by its quantum properties and how it interacts with other particles. For example, a Higgs boson is believed to have no spin, and in the standard model, its parity -- the measure of how its mirror image behaves -- should be positive. The CMS and ATLAS experiment teams, which are working with CERN, have found information that "strongly indicates that it is a Higgs boson."

"The preliminary results with the full 2012 data set are magnificent, and to me it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson though we still have a long way to go to know what kind of Higgs boson it is," CMS spokesman Joe Incandela said in a statement.

The researchers said they will have to evaluate "much more data" to determine if the particle is the standard model Higgs boson.

The Higgs boson, thought by some to endow other particles with mass, is a key missing ingredient in physicists' understanding of what makes the universe tick. It's predicted by the standard model of particle physics, but no one has been able to confirm its existence or nature. The Higgs boson was predicted by Edinburgh-based particle physicist Peter Higgs in the mid-1960s.

CERN said in 2011 that it had found traces of the Higgs boson, but was not sure. The facility ramped up the power of the Large Hadron Collider early last year, a move they said would speed up the search for the elusive particle. In July 2012, they revealed that the particle they found was almost certainly the Higgs boson. The two teams at the collider at that time had independently observed a particle consistent with Higgs boson.

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