'God Particle' Discovered, Say CERN Scientists

Scientists announced Thursday that they believe a subatomic particle discovered last year is indeed the Higgs boson, or "God particle," they have been searching for.

"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," said Joe Incandela, spokesperson for the CMS physics team, in a statement.

The findings were announced during the Moriond Conference, a gathering of physicists in the Italian Alps.

CMS and ATLAS, two teams at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, have analyzed two and a half times the data that was available back in July when an announcement about the possible discovery was made. Researchers say the particle fits the characteristics of Higgs bosons in terms of both its quantum properties and the way it interacts with other particles.

What is unclear, however, if it is the Higgs boson of the Standard Model, which explains how matter's basic building blocks interact, or if it is just one of several bosons as predicted by other theories. To determine whether or not it is the Standard Model particle, scientists must measure the rate at which the boson decays into other particles.

"The beautiful new results represent a huge effort by many dedicated people," Dave Charlton, ATLAS spokesperson, said. "They point to the new particle having the spin-parity of a Higgs boson as in the Standard Model. We are now well started on the measurement program in the Higgs sector."

The particle was discovered using CERN's Large Hadron Collider, a massive scientific instrument used to accelerate particle beams to close to the speed of light before colliding them into one another.

The Higgs boson was named after physicist Peter Higgs, who introduced the theory of the particle's existence, in 1964. The particle, it is believed, plays a role in giving other particles their mass, and by doing so allows them to bind together to form atoms.