Heartened by a glimpse of what may have been the Higgs boson, researchers at the CERN physics lab continue to smash particles in a quest to understand how the Universe works at a submolecular level, why do particles have mass, and many other such cosmic riddles.

But rather than the end of the line, the July 4th unveiling of a boson with Higgs-like characteristics opens new scientific frontiers and raises even more questions. But in order to proceed in this line, researchers first have to find irrefutable proof that the particle they found is indeed the Higgs boson – and they have a lot of time to do this.

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An artist rendition of the Higgs boson emerging after a collision

“The LHC is made to last another twenty-odd years, exactly to allow us to immerse ourselves in this field of research, of which we have barely scratched the surface,” said Bernard Ille, research director of France’s CNRS institute.

Confirming the Higgs boson would validate the Standard Model, a theory that identifies and pinpoints the characteristics of the building blocks of matter and the particles that convey fundamental forces. It’s indeed great to see that researchers are fully motivated to pursue the quest.

“Once we understand this, there are many other avenues that open up because the boson itself posed a serious theoretical problem,” said Yves Sirois, one of the CMS’ directors. “Truly, it opens the door to a new level of physics” — understanding such physics mind-benders as supersymmetry. “It is likely that by raising the energy levels in the LHC in a few years we shall be capable of discovering dark matter,” said Sirois.