With the Large Hadron Collider still in the repair shop, the race to find the Higgs boson particle has become a lot tighter, thanks to the older and less powerful - but nonetheless working - Tevatron collider near Chicago.
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"The Tevatron definitely has a chance," says Greg Landsberg of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, who works on one of the LHC's detectors.
With the LHC due to restart only in November at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, the Tevatron has been gaining ground in the search for the Higgs, the particle thought to give mass to other elementary particles. At last week's Lepton Photon conference in Hamburg, Germany, Tevatron physicists said that by early 2011 they will have recorded enough data to allow them to either find or rule out the Higgs as predicted by the standard model.
Tevatron physicists said that by early 2011 they will have the data to either find the Higgs or rule it out
The LHC will have to sprint to catch up, and it won't be easy. While the LHC's higher energies should produce more Higgs particles, it will also boost the production of other particles that can mimic a Higgs, says Gordon Kane of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Telling between the two will require a precise understanding of how the LHC's detectors are working, which takes time to develop.
The LHC, however, could become the first to find particles of dark matter, a search for which the Tevatron is not well suited.