Image: The main ring of the Tevatron accelerator at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
After 40 years, more evidence is being reported Wednesday that the end of the biggest manhunt in the history of physics might finally be in sight.
Physicists from the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., say they have found a bump in their data that might be the long-sought Higgs boson, a hypothesized particle that is responsible for endowing other elementary particles with mass.
The signal, in data collected over the last several years at Fermilab’s Tevatron accelerator, agrees roughly with results announced last December from two independent experimental groups working at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, outside Geneva.
“Based on the current Tevatron data and results compiled through December 2011 by other experiments, this is the strongest hint of the existence of a Higgs boson,” said the report, which will be presented on Wednesday by Wade Fisher of Michigan State University to a physics conference in La Thuile, Italy.
None of these results, either singly or collectively, are strong enough for scientists to claim victory. But the recent run of reports has encouraged them to think that the elusive particle, which is the key to mass and diversity in the universe, is within sight, perhaps as soon as this summer.
Beate Heinemann, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been deeply involved in analyzing data from the Large Hadron Collider, said recently of the CERN results, “This very much smells like the Higgs boson.” But, she noted, the signal could also go away when more data is obtained. …