But no story has been more of a head-scratcher than that of the Higgs boson, the name for a theoretical particle that physicists at CERN said they have come closer to discovering.
As Brian Vastag and Joel Achenbach report, “Confirmation of the Higgs boson would solve the mystery of why matter has the property that physicists call mass — the resistance to being shoved around. If the Higgs is declared non-existent, on the other hand, there would be a gaping hole in physicists’ explanation of nature’s deepest structure.”
Scientists have speculated about the particle’s existence since theorist Peter Higgs first predicted its existence in 1964, but proof has been a long time coming. The latest announcement offered hope to scientists at the announcement — who broke out into a loud and sustained applause — but the physicists working on the project said no definite conclusions could be drawn yet.
While it may be the most perplexing story of the year, the Higgs particle is by no means the the only major scientific advance in 2011. What are the others? Check out the photo gallery below:
Here’s coverage from the Post’s Brian Vastag and Joel Achenbach of each of these key stories: