Confirmation that scientists have found the Higgs boson, the greatest trophy in particle physics, could come "very soon" in the new year, it was claimed on Tuesday.
Latest results from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) show "strong hints" of the subatomic particle which is believed to explain the mystery of mass. Dubbed the "God Particle", the Higgs boson is the last missing piece in the leading theory - known as the Standard Model - that describes how particles and forces interact to make the world we see around us.
Professor Tony Doyle, one of the LHC physicists from the University of Glasgow, said: "It's fair to say that strong hints are what we're getting right now. My perspective is that this is our Apollo 10 moment. We've shown we've done everything needed to land on the Moon, or in our case, find the Higgs boson.
"Confirmation should be very soon in the New Year. I absolutely think we'll find the Higgs boson next year."
The discovery of the Higgs boson particle at a massive research lab in Switzerland would be the culmination of work begun by an Edinburgh-based scientist.
Scientists at CERN, the £5bn European Organisation for Nuclear Research facility near Geneva, had been working to prove a theory developed almost 50 years ago by Peter Higgs, an emeritus professor at Edinburgh University.
He developed a theory while working at the university that a subatomic particle existed that caused particles to have mass, their weight. Published in 1964, the theory has become a cornerstone of modern physics.
However, while the theory was almost universally accepted, the particle has never been detected in practice. The Higgs boson has been though of as so significant it has become known as the God particle, responsible for phenomena such as gravity.
The Higgs boson has been described as "the most sought-after particle in modern physics" and has eluded scientists for years.
The LHC facility developed by CERN allowed the scientists to investigate some of the fundamental issues in physics that have not been possible to address before.
At the facility subatomic particles are accelerated and contained within electromagnetic fields. They could then be collided together to reveal their constituent parts.
Speaking to STV News in 2008, Professor Higgs was asked about the prospect of being proved right after 44 years, and said: "That's a very nice prospect, of course."
On whether he was confident he would be proved correct, he said: "Pretty confident. I'll be very surprised and disappointed if it turns out not to be so.
"It would mean I no longer understand things which I now understand well."
Professor Higgs has already received awards for his work in the field of physics. The discovery of the particle that he anticipated may well put him in line for more honours.
Scientists have been looking for the particle by smashing protons, the "hearts" of atoms, together at enormous energies in the LHC.
The £4bn particle accelerator, which weighs more than 38,000 tonnes and straddles the Swiss-French border, fills a 27-kilometre circular tunnel sunk 100 metres into the ground.