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'God particle' data falls short of proof, say Fermilab researchers (+video)

Physicists at the Fermi National Accelerator Lab say they have strong evidence of the existence of the Higgs boson, the so-called God particle that could explain the existence of mass. But their evidence falls short of absolute proof, they say. 

By Andrew SternReuters, Sharon BegleyReuters / July 2, 2012

In this 2011 photo, a physicist explains the ATLAS experiment on a board at the European Center for Nuclear Research, CERN, outside Geneva, Switzerland. Scientists at CERN plan to make an announcement on Wednesday about their hunt for the elusive sub-atomic particle.

Anja Niedringhaus/AP/File

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Batavia, Ill,

Physicists at Fermi National Accelerator Lab announced Monday that they had seen the strongest evidence yet of the subatomic "God particle" - more properly known as the Higgs boson - in the debris of collisions at the now-shuttered particle accelerator called the Tevatron.

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Fermilab scientist Don Lincoln describes the nature of the Higgs boson. Several large experimental groups are hot on the trail of this elusive subatomic particle which is thought to explain the origins of particle mass

The evidence still fell short of proof, however. Because the same debris hinting at the existence of the Higgs could also come from other subatomic particles, the physicists could rule out other explanations with a confidence of only 550-to-1; that is, there is less than a 0.2 percent chance that the collision debris is not from the Higgs. But by international convention, the odds have to be closer to 0.14 percent.

On Wednesday, physicists at CERN, the European particle accelerator located on the Swiss-French border, are scheduled to announce their own findings in the Higgs hunt.

(Editing by Will Dunham)

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