(CBS/AP) GENEVA - One of the two independent teams at the world's biggest atom smasher said Wednesday it has found strong evidence of a new subatomic particle that looks like the one believed to give all matter in the universe size and shape.
Joe Incandela, leader of one of the teams known as CMS, told scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, that his team of 2,100 scientists has "observed" a new particle that is a boson the same type of particle as the long-sought Higgs boson, popularly referred to as the "God particle."
He described the data as consistent with the elusive Higgs boson, whose existence was predicted decades ago to help explain how the universe works, but stopped short of definitively declaring discovery of the Higgs boson.
The second team was just starting to present its evidence before a packed auditorium, where scientists broke into applause intermittently.
Fabiola Gianotti, leader of the second team of some 3,000 scientists, known as ATLAS, said it also has observed some "beautiful" events in CERN's atom smasher, the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider on the Swiss-French border.
It has been creating high-energy collisions of protons to investigate dark matter, antimatter and the creation of the universe, which many theorize occurred in a massive explosion known as the Big Bang.
(Below, watch CBS' "60 Minutes" visit the Large Hadron Collider for a story broadcast in 2008)
The phrase "God particle," coined by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman, is used by laymen, not physicists, more as an explanation for how the wonders of the subatomic universe work than how it all started.