CERN researchers say that they have all but proven the existence of the elusive Higgs boson, the so-called God particle that is thought to impart the property of mass to matter.
Scientists working at the world's biggest atom smasher plan to announce Wednesday that they have gathered enough evidence to show that the long-sought "God particle" answering fundamental questions about the universe almost certainly does exist.
But after decades of work and billions of dollars spent, researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, say they aren't quite ready to say they've "discovered" the particle.
Instead, experts familiar with the research at CERN's vast complex on the Swiss-French border say that the massive data they have obtained will essentially show the footprint of the key particle known as the Higgs boson — all but proving it exists — but doesn't allow them to say it has actually been glimpsed.
It appears to be a fine distinction. Senior CERN scientists say that the two independent teams of physicists who plan to present their work at CERN's vast complex on the Swiss-French border on July 4 are about as close as you can get to a discovery without actually calling it one.
"I agree that any reasonable outside observer would say, 'It looks like a discovery,'" British theoretical physicist John Ellis, a professor at King's College London who has worked at CERN since the 1970s, told The Associated Press. "We've discovered something which is consistent with being a Higgs."