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Scientists may have found Higgs boson. What next?

Physicists working at CERN's Large Hadron Collider say it's possible they've discovered the long-sought 'God particle'.  The Higgs boson could lead to 'new physics', they add.

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British physicist Peter Higgs, right, congratulates Fabiola Gianotti, ATLAS experiment spokesperson, after her results presentation during a scientific seminar to deliver the latest update in the search for the Higgs boson at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Meyrin near Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday.

Denis Balibouse/AP

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Two teams of researchers say they have found a new, fundamental subatomic particle with a handful of traits that are consistent with those predicted for a long-sought Higgs boson – a particle linked to the mechanism that gives mass to other fundamental particles.

The results, presented Wednesday, are preliminary. Still, the data the teams presented drew thunderous applause and a standing ovation from physicists packed into a lecture hall at the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, where the results were presented.

In December, the same teams unveiled results that hinted they'd found a particle. But this time each team, using independent ways of hunting for Higgs bosons, found their results matched for a few key measurements, each set carrying literally a 1 in a million chance of being wrong.

"As a layman, I'd say we have it," said CERN Director-General Rolf Heuer. As a scientist, however, he added that researchers now have to figure out what "it" is.

The particle's mass, for instance, falls within the range predicted for a Higgs boson that would fit into the so-called standard model – a description physicists have painstakingly built of the fundamental particles that make up matter and the forces that govern their interactions.

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