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In 2005, at a festive midsummer night’s banquet at Uppsala Castle in Sweden, I chose a seat across the table from two of the world’s leading experts on particle physics: the theorist Frank Wilczek, the previous year’s winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, and Janet Conrad, a leading experimentalist.

As the northern sun lingered late into the evening, they talked animatedly about the origin of mass. And that conversation led to a bet about an elusive, long-sought, much theorized particle, with me as the bet’s keeper.

Now, with the Large Hadron Collider up and running at a lab outside Geneva, we may be close to settling that bet.

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