New data to be shared in hunt for elusive particle

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GENEVA (AP) ? Scientists involved with the world’s largest atom smasher prepared Tuesday to unveil the latest data in their hunt for a subatomic particle believed to be a basic building block of the universe ? information that may narrow the region the elusive particle can be found.

The data about the so-called Higgs boson has generated much buzz among researchers, who believe it could help explain many scientific mysteries. The particle was named for British physicist Peter Higgs, who theorized its existence more than 40 years ago to explain the puzzle of how atoms ? and everything else in the universe ? have weight.

Although it would be an enormous scientific breakthrough for the physics world if the Higgs boson was found, officials at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research near Geneva, have ruled out making any such announcement this year.

However, CERN scientists have told The Associated Press that the latest information from the $10-billion Large Hadron Collider under the Swiss-French border helps narrow the region of the search for the particle.

The physicists said the data would exclude some of the higher energy ranges where the Higgs might be found and show some intriguing “events” ? hints, glimpses, or possible sightings ? at the lower energy ranges that remain unconfirmed.

Joe Incandela, a top CERN physicist, has described the data from one of the two main experiments as being “right at the boundary of where you might get a vague hint of something.”

Leaders of the two main experiments, ATLAS and CMS, are to present their data Tuesday. To provide more certainty about what is being found, the teams work independently of each other at the collider ? a 17-mile (27-kilometer tunnel) where high energy beams of protons are sent crashing into each other at incredible speeds.