GENEVA, Switzerland, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- The hunt for the elusive Higgs particle is well ahead of schedule, researchers at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland say, and could be over this year.
Scientists had said earlier in the year that either the discovery of the Higgs, or confirmation that it didn't in fact exist, would come by the end of 2012. But the collider is working so well the answer could be known much sooner, LHC spokesman Guido Tonelli told the BBC Thursday.
In the space of a few months, he said, the machine has collected half the data it was expected to require two years to collect.
"We could discover the Standard Model version of the Higgs boson or exclude it earlier than expected. Could we discover it by Christmas? In principle, yes," Tonelli said.
The Higgs boson is the proposed particle that in the current "standard model" of physics allows other particles to have mass.
Put forward in theory in 1964, the Higgs boson remains the only major particle in the standard model yet to be observed.