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But after decades of work and billions of dollars spent, researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, say they aren't quite ready to say they've "discovered" the particle.
Instead, experts familiar with the research at CERN's vast complex on the Swiss-French border say that the massive data they have obtained will essentially show the footprint of the key particle known as the Higgs boson -- all but proving it exists -- but doesn't allow them to say it has actually been glimpsed.
It appears to be a fine distinction. Senior CERN scientists say that the two independent teams of physicists who plan to present their work at CERN's vast complex on the Swiss-French border on July 4 are about as close as you can get to a discovery without actually calling it one.
"I agree that any reasonable outside observer would say, `It looks like a discovery,"' British theoretical physicist John Ellis, a professor at King's College London who has worked at CERN since the 1970s, told The Associated Press. "We've discovered something which is consistent with being a Higgs."
CERN's atom smasher, the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider, has been creating high-energy collisions of protons to help them understand suspected phenomena such as dark matter, antimatter and ultimately the creation of the universe billions of years ago, which many theorize occurred as a massive explosion known as the Big Bang.
For particle physicists, finding the Higgs boson is a key to confirming the standard model of physics that explains what gives mass to matter and, by extension, how the universe was formed.
Rob Roser, who leads the search for the Higgs boson at the Fermilab in Chicago, says "particle physicists have a very high standard for what it takes to be a discovery" and thinks it is a hair's breadth away.
Rosen compared the results scientists are preparing to announce Wednesday to finding the fossilized imprint of a dinosaur: "You see the footprints and the shadow of the object, but you don't actually see it."
Thursday, September 20 2012, 07:43 AM CDT
Man pleads guilty to Memphis officer's murder
May 21, 2013 22:22 GMT
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- A former death row inmate is set to be released from prison after he pleaded guilty to second-degree murder of a Memphis police officer.
Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said Tuesday that she has accepted Timothy McKinney's guilty plea.
McKinney was convicted of first-degree murder for the fatal shooting of Officer Don Williams. The officer was killed outside a comedy club in December 1997.
McKinney appealed and won a new trial, which ended with a deadlocked jury. A third trial earlier this year also ended in a hung jury.
The Commercial Appeal reports that McKinney was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Since he's already served more than 15 years -- including 11 on death row -- McKinney will be released this week.
Williams' family opposed the settlement.
BC-US--Dow Record-Three Personal Stories, 1st Ld-Writethru,1173
Dow Record: Three tales of ups, downs and changes
AP Photo FX102, FX103
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By SCOTT MAYEROWITZ
AP Business Writer
NEW YORK (AP) -- When the Dow first crossed 14,000, investors were overjoyed. ...
IN THE NEWS: iPHONE RECOVERED AFTER THEFT IN OREGON
MEDFORD, Ore. (AP) -- A smartphone, plus a not-so-smart criminal -- equals an arrest in Oregon.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- George Washington University students will soon be walking all over the White House and the Capitol, too.