The Higgs boson is thought to be central to understanding the universe. It’s function is to give mass to the particles that make up atoms, in turn creating gravity, without which there would be no universe.

Scientists at CERN – the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, which co-ordinates the LHC project – have spent years hunting for the Higgs boson and will give an update on their findings at a seminar today.

It is though that scientists will still not be able to confirm whether the particle exists but will report on “significant” discoveries.

In 1964, Peter Higgs proposed a theoretical field, spread across the universe, from which atoms get their mass. If its existence could be proved, it would provide the final piece of evidence in the most commonly accepted scientific theory of how the universe is composed.

At the CERN lab in Switzerland, scientists have been using the  Large Hadron Collider in an attempt to recreate the Big Bang and generate Higgs particles.

The collider, housed in an 18-mile tunnel housed deep underground, smashes beams of protons together at close to the speed of light, recreating the conditions that existed a fraction of a second after the Big Bang.

The theory is, a few Higgs bosons should be created in every trillion collisions, leaving behind a “footprint” that would show up as a bump in their graphs.

If today’s announcement reveals that the Higgs boson may not, in fact, exist, this could turn traditional models of how the universe was created on their heads, forcing physicists to come up with new theories.

An announcement on Cern’s website said: “These results will be based on the analysis of considerably more data than those presented at the summer conferences, sufficient to make significant progress in the search for the Higgs boson, but not enough to make any conclusive statement on the existence or non-existence of the Higgs.”