Last July, scientists announced that had discovered what they strongly believed to be the Higgs Boson -- but quirks in the data suggested that might not be the case. Now, however, CERN has announced that the observed particle is "looking more and more like a Higgs boson".
Since the announcement in July, scientists at CERN have had the chance to crunch through two and a half times more data than was originally available. That's enough for Joe Incandela, a particle physicist working on the project, to claim that "it is clear that we are dealing with a Higgs boson".
However, it still remains uncertain what kind of boson it is: while it could be the Higgs boson of the Standard Model, it could still be the lightest of several other bosons predicted in some alternative physical theories. CERN explains how it will work that out:
To determine if this is the Standard Model Higgs boson, the collaborations have, for example, to measure precisely the rate at which the boson decays into other particles and compare the results to the predictions. The detection of the boson is a very rare event - it takes around 1 trillion (1012) proton-proton collisions for each observed event. To characterise all of the decay modes will require much more data from the LHC.
Still, it's great to hear that the mythical God particle is looking less and less mythical every day. [CERN]