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The Top 10 Science Stories of 2012

A devastating storm, a new phase of Mars exploration, a recipe for a pandemic flu--these and other events highlight the year in science and technology

The Top 10 Science Stories of 2012, Higgs Boson, ATLAS, CERN
Image of particle decay tracks left by purported Higgs courtesy of ATLAS Experiment/CERN

The Higgs Boson Is Detected

This year the best Fourth of July fireworks took place in Europe. On that warm summer’s day, in a conference room not far from the shores of Lake Geneva, physicists representing two experiments at the Large Hadron Collider celebrated the news four decades in the making: The Higgs boson had been found.

The next day’s front-page headline of The New York Times read “Physicists Find Elusive Particle Seen as Key to Universe,” but the Higgs discovery is about much more than enhancing our understanding of the subatomic world. The Higgs represents the final chapter in the story of 21st-century particle physics. It completes the Standard Model, the theoretical description of all the known particles and forces (and by some metrics the most successful theory in the history of science). From here, hopes are that scientists at the LHC will make discoveries that illuminate the universe beyond the Standard Model, providing fireworks for years to come. —Michael Moyer

More:
» In-Depth Report: The Higgs Boson at Last?
» Why Do Physicists Care So Much about Finding the Higgs Boson?

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