Physicists plan to announce soon that they've found enough evidence to prove the existence of the Higgs boson, also known as the God particle, but will stop short of saying they've actually observed the particle itself, according to news reports.
The European Organization for Nuclear Research, also known as CERN, will be presenting new data from work at the organization's large particle accelerator on Wednesday morning in Geneva and at a meeting in Australia this week. An Associated Press report characterizes the data as showing the footprint of the Higgs boson rather than describing the particle itself.
Rob Roser, a scientist working at Chicago's Fermilab and another seeker of the Higgs boson, told the AP the results are akin to being on the hunt for a dinosaur and discovering the creature's fossilized tracks.
You see the footprints and the shadow of the object, but you don't actually see it, Roser said, according to the AP.
The Higgs boson is thought to factor into how other subatomic particles like protons, neutrons and electrons have mass.
As the Atlantic notes, physicists are particularly shy about trumpeting discoveries before they're absolutely sure they're right. The ideal threshold is something called 5-Sigma proof, meaning there's a less than one in one million chance that the result described is the result of some random fluctuation.
There were rumors that experiments of the Higgs resulted 4-sigma signals (one notch down), and scientists were speculating whether or not these multiple 4's would trump a 5-sigma and perhaps trigger discovery and how exactly CERN would spin it, the Atlantic's Alexander Abed-Santos wrote.