gbrumfiel writes: "For forty years, the Higgs boson has remained a theoretical construct, but by Christmas, scientists may have a pretty good idea of whether it's real or not. Nature News reports that a new analysis has further narrowed the Higgs range, and data gathered this autumn at the LHC should be enough to show a faint signal from a Higgs, if it's there. (Already one signal has disappeared earlier in the year.) Physicists hope to finish their analysis of the autumn data by the year's end, but even if they come up empty-handed it won't be the end of the story. The Higgs is commonly referred to as the particle that endows others with mass, but its real appeal is the ability to unify the weak nuclear force with electromagnetism. If there is no Higgs, some other mechanism for creating a unified "electroweak" force should be found inside the LHC."