Get ready for some scientific fireworks on July 4: Scientists at CERN intend to announce Wednesday that they have found proof that the so-called "God particle" does indeed exist—even though they haven't actually seen it, sources tell the AP. Experts say the massive amount of data the Large Hadron Collider has collected essentially shows the "footprint" the Higgs boson has left. It's not enough to claim they've discovered the particle, but it's about as close as they could come without doing so, senior scientists say.
"Any reasonable outside observer would say, 'It looks like a discovery,'" says one theoretical physicist. The Higgs boson is the theoretical particle on which the entire standard model of particle physics hinges. It explains what gives mass to matter, and hence how the universe was formed. "Particle physicists have a very high standard for what it takes to be a discovery," the head Higgs hunter at Fermilab explains. He says CERN's results are like a dinosaur fossil. "You see the footprints and the shadow of the object, but you don't actually see it."