'God Particle' Could Be Found in Time for Christmas

Researchers at the Large Hadron Collider, who have been searching for proof of the Higgs Boson, say that they should be able to confirm or refute its existence as early as Christmas 2011.

The Higgs Boson, more commonly known as the "God Particle," is an elusive elementary particle thought to be the building block of all other sub-atomic particles and is what allows them to obtain mass.

Scientists have been searching for the Higgs Boson for over 40 years. If discovered, it would complete what scientists call the "Standard Model" of physics, which essentially explains how everything in the universe came to be.

Earlier this year, scientists reported that they expected to be able to confirm the existence of the Higgs Boson by the end of 2012. But more speedy development of the LHC's CMS experiment have led many scientists to believe they will be able to locate the particle before the year's end.

"We could discover the Standard Model version of the Higgs Boson or exclude it earlier than expected. Could we discover it by Christmas? In principle, yes," LHC spokesman, Professor Guido Tonelli, told BBC News.

The Large Hadron Collider works by crashing protons together and reviewing the wreckage in order to discover the characteristics of their makeup. Scientists hope to find new particles that can possibly be identified as the "God Particle."

Thus far, the LHC has already collected half of the data scientists expected to collect in two years. Measuring units called "inverse femtobarns," which scientists use to determine the number of proton collisions they observe, they planned to collect five inverse femtobarns by the end of 2012.

However, Tonelli has stated that 2.5 inverse femtobarns have thus far been collected, which is equal to approximately 175,000 billion collisions.

While many are optimistic that this advancement means the "God Particle" will be found in the foreseeable future, some are not quite sure the discovery will come as an early Christmas present.

"It's a bit optimistic. If the Higgs had been in an easy to find area then yes, we may have been able to have discovered it by Christmas," Richard Hawkings told BBC.

Hawkings is involved with the Atlas experiment, an alternative experiment aimed at discovering the Higgs Boson.

However, Tonelli says the completion of the CMS experiment would be a success even if the "God Particle" were found to not exist.

"This would be the first time that we would have scientific evidence that this theory which has been so successful in the last 40 years must be definitely abandoned and we should look for another theory," he said.

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