Hunt for Higgs Boson
Given the rarity of Higgs boson particles, CERN will only be able to reward 10 lucky winners. Reuters

Researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) may be close to answering one of life's greatest mysteries.

The organization recently announced by the end of 2012, researchers will know whether or not Higgs boson, or the "God Particle" truly exists and caused the creation of the stars and planets. The Higgs boson may be the particle that explains The Big Bang, a piece of flying debris that turned into the stars and planets. It is named after British physicist Peter Higgs who first mentioned the particle was responsible for The Big Bang, which occured 13.7 billion years ago.

The researchers recently fired streams of protons through the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) particle accelerator and accumulated unusual results. The data spikes may represent the existence of the Higgs boson. Scientists did caution these fluctuations could simply be misreadings or passing phenomena that will be explained later. Others are certain the existence of the Higgs will be figured out sooner rather than later.

"Discovery or exclusion of the Higgs particle, as predicted by the Standard Model, is getting ever closer," said CERN's Director for Research and Scientific Computing, Sergio Bertolucci. "Both occurrences will be great news for physics, the former allowing us to start the detailed study of the Higgs particle, the latter being the first proof of the incompleteness of the Standard Model, requiring new phenomena to be happening within the reach of the LHC."

Rolf Heuer, director-general of the CERN research center, made an even firmer announcement the International Europhysics Conference.

"We can settle this Shakespearean question -- to be or not to be -- by the end of next year," Heuer said.

Heuer can make this prediction with certainty because of the speed in which experiments have been able be analyzed. The Worldwide LHC Computing Grid has been able to process 200,000 physics analysis jobs concurrently.

"With the data we have analyzed already, and building on our extensive measurements of Standard Model processes, we are beginning to explore much of the available mass range for the Higgs and many scenarios of new physics," said Fabiola Gianotti, spokesperson for the A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS (ATLAS) experiment at CERN.

The Higgs boson gained certain notoriety in the scientific community when Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon M. Lederman and science writer Dick Teresi wrote a book called The God Particle: If the Universe Is the Answer, What is the Question? The book goes over the history of particle physics and leads up to discussions on the God particle.

[MUST READ] Volcanoes Found on Far Side of Moon