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Physicists edge closer to 'God particle' discovery (+video)

Scientists in Europe and the United States indicate that they have strong evidence for the existence of the so-called God particle, the Higgs Boson, which, if discovered, would help explain why matter has mass. 

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Scientists have hinted that the LHC has come close to finding the Higgs boson, but that they aren't quite ready to announce its discovery.

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"I know that 2012 is the year; I can't tell you that July is the month," said Tom LeCompte, a physicist at Illinois' Argonne National Laboratory, and a member of LHC's ATLAS experiment.

Last December, LHC scientists announced that they'd seen hints of what could be the Higgs boson in an excess of particles weighing around 124 or 125 GeV. Yet the researchers hadn't collected enough data to say for sure if the blip represented the Higgs particle or if the pattern could have been a statistical fluke.

To claim a true discovery in science, physicists wait until their statistics reach the level of "five sigma," meaning there is a one in 3.5 million chance the signal isn't real.

Currently, the Tevatron results suggest the existence of the Higgs, but aren't quite that certain.

"We're close to 3 sigma," said Fermilab research Rob Roser, a cospokesperson for Tevatron's CDF experiment."What that means is I'd be willing to bet your house, but not mine. At 5 sigmas, I'll bet my own house."

Still, the Fermilab team's findings are enough to qualify as the strongest claim to date for the existence of the Higgs. While the LHC was able to reduce the possible mass range for the particle to an even narrower window, it did so with less certainty.

However, that could change come Wednesday.

The LHC results will be announced July 4 at 3 a.m. EDT (9 a.m. CEST), and will be webcast live here: http://webcast.web.cern.ch/webcast

Follow Clara Moskowitz on Twitter @ClaraMoskowitz or LiveScience @livescience. We're also onFacebook & Google+.

Copyright 2012 LiveScience, a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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