A newfound particle discovered at the world's largest atom smasher last year is indeed a Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that plays a role in giving other particles their mass, scientists reported Thursday at the annual Rencontres de Moriond conference in Italy.
Physicists announced on July 4, 2012, that, with more than 99 percent certainty, they had found a new elementary particle weighing about 126 times the mass of the proton that could be the long-sought Higgs boson. The Higgs is sometimes referred to as the "God particle," to the chagrin of many scientists, who prefer its official name.
But the two experiments, CMS and ATLAS, hadn't collected enough data to say the particle was, for sure, the Higgs boson, the last undiscovered piece of the puzzle predicted by the Standard Model, the reigning theory of particle physics.
Now, after collecting two and a half times more data inside the Large Hadron Collider -- where protons zip at near light-speed around the 17-mile-round (27-kilometer-round) underground ring beneath Switzerland and France -- physicists say the particle is "a Higgs boson." But they can't yet rule out the possibility that other Higgs bosons exist as well. [In Photos: Searching for the 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 spokesperson Joe Incandela said in a statement.
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