At a seminar at CERN in Geneva Tuesday, two groups using independent means for seeking the Higgs boson reported seeing tantalizing hints of the presence of the 'God particle.'
In the search for what some have dubbed the "God particle," physicists have gotten a whiff of something interesting, but they aren't close to claiming discovery yet.
The quarry: the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle associated with a universal field permeating space that imparts mass to other particles as they encounter it.
At a two-hour seminar at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva Tuesday, two groups using independent means for seeking the Higgs boson reported seeing tantalizing hints of the Higgs' presence.
But the data were barely distinguishable from the signals one could expect from random noise.
"What we see right now is in agreement with what you would expect if there is a Higgs, or if there is not – the data are in agreement with both at this point," says Pauline Gagnon, a senior research physicist with Indiana University at Bloomington and currently at CERN.
Yet both groups saw their faint signals in multiple channels their detectors cover and within the same narrow range of masses.
"That's where it becomes interesting," Dr. Gagnon says.
It's as though two breeds of hunting dogs caught the same faint scent, just enough to send them baying down the same trail.