The Large Hadron Collider will soon resume its search for new particles, and it's kicking its energy levels up a notch to do it. CERN's research director promises we will know the truth about the Higgs boson by the end of 2012.
In a CERN statement, research director Sergio Bertolucci made this exciting prediction about the Large Hadron Collider's search for the Higgs:
"By the time the LHC goes into its first long stop at the end of this year, we will either know that a Higgs particle exists or have ruled out the existence of a Standard Model Higgs. Either would be a major advance in our exploration of nature, bringing us closer to understanding how the fundamental particles acquire their mass, and marking the beginning of a new chapter in particle physics."
To aid in the search, the Large Hadron Collider is increasing its beam energy from 3.5 to 4 TeV. CERN had used the lower energy level in the LHC's first two runs in 2010 and 2011, and the results were encouraging enough to try a higher, and potentially more revealing, energy level in 2012. Once these experiments are completed, the Large Hadron Collider will go offline for 20 months to prepare for experiments at its full design energy of 7 TeV.
The past two runs have shown some evidence of the Higgs boson at a mass range between 124 and 126 GeV, and we recently passed the 4-sigma level of confidence that the Higgs does indeed exist. Another year's worth of data should be enough to either push that figure to the 5-sigma level needed for an official discovery, or to show conclusively that the Higgs just isn't there.