Scientists at Cern say they are running out of places to look for the Higgs boson, an elusive particle that has been theorised but never proven to exist.
Finding the Higgs boson would confirm the Standard Model of particle physics and provide further understanding of mass. Cern has been trying to find it using the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), an enormous experiment under the Alps, since 2008.
On Monday, at the biannual Lepton-Photon conference in Mumbai, Cern provided an update from its Atlas and CMS projects, which are taking place at the LHC facilities. The research organisation said they had now excluded the existence of a Higgs boson over most of the mass region 145 to 466 GeV, where it is most likely to be found, with 95 percent certainty.
"These are exciting times for particle physics," Cern research director Sergio Bertolucci said in a statement. "Discoveries are almost assured within the next twelve months. If the Higgs exists, the LHC experiments will soon find it. If it does not, its absence will point the way to new physics."
In July, the scientists at Cern said they had found possible hints of a Higgs boson in the data they had compiled, but stressed that they needed more data to be sure. They are now almost sure that the statistical fluctuations they had seen were not significant.
"Thanks to the superb performance of the LHC, we have recorded a huge amount of new data over the last month," Atlas spokeman Fabiola Gianotti said. "This has allowed us to make great strides in our understanding of the Standard Model and in the search for the Higgs boson and new physics."