Physicists at a U.S. laboratory said on Monday they have come very close to proving the existence of the elusive subatomic Higgs boson – often called the “God particle” because it may bring mass and order to the universe, according to Reuters.
Results from the US Tevatron, a smaller cousin of Cern’s Large Hadron Collider, “strongly point” towards the existence of a Higgs Boson.
The announcement by the Fermi National Accelerator Lab outside Chicago came two days before physicists at CERN, the European particle accelerator near Geneva, are supposed to unveil their own findings in the Higgs hunt.
Researchers at CERN say that they have compiled vast amounts of data that show the footprint and shadow of the particle, even though it has never actually been glimpsed, reports The Huff Post.
Due to the fact that the Tevatron and LHC use very different methods of searching for the Higgs Boson, the fact that their signals match up greatly reduces the chance that either could have happened by chance.
According to The Telegraph, Professor Dan Tovey, Professor of Particle Physics at the University of Sheffield, said: “These intriguing hints from the Tevatron appear to support the results from the LHC shown at CERN in December.”
He adds: “This gives us more confidence that what we are seeing is really evidence of new physics rather than just a statistical fluke. We will need to wait until Wednesday and the latest results from the LHC before getting the full picture however.”
Discovering the particle, called the Higgs boson, would finalize physicists’ understanding of how subatomic particles have mass, which gives an object weight.
“This is the best answer that is out there at the moment,” said physicist Rob Roser of Fermilab, which is run by the U.S. Department of Energy.
“The Tevatron data strongly point toward the existence of the Higgs boson, but it will take results from the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe to establish a firm discovery.”
Finding the particle, first proposed by Peter Higgs in 1964, would prove the existence of the Higgs Field, a mysterious force which interacts with particles to give them their mass.
However, physicists not connected to Fermilab expressed cautious optimism that the long-sought particle had finally been found.
“These intriguing hints from the Tevatron appear to support the results from the LHC shown at CERN in December,” said Dan Tovey, professor of particle physics at the University of Sheffield in Britain.
He added: “The results are particularly important because they use a completely different and complementary way of searching for the Higgs boson. This gives us more confidence that what we are seeing is really evidence of new physics rather than just a statistical fluke,” Tovey added.
If Wednesday’s results prove to be definitive, the data from the Tevatron and LHC will be reanalysed to characterise it more precisely and establish exactly what has been found.
CERN is to present its evidence this week at a physics conference in Australia but also plans to accompany the announcement with meetings in Geneva.
The two teams, known as ATLAS and CMS, then plan to publicly unveil more data on the Higgs boson at physics meetings in October and December.
CERN spokesman James Gillies said Monday that he would be “very cautious” about unofficial combinations of ATLAS and CMS data.
“Combining the data from two experiments is a complex task, which is why it takes time, and why no combination will be presented on Wednesday.” he said.
“We don’t actually know the answer yet. We are still doing the calculations,” said physicist Paul Padley of Rice University in Houston, who is on one of the physics teams presenting the findings.
“It’s endless fun for us to read all these news reports about the results, before we even have finished the calculations,” he said.