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Recent hints of a featherweight Higgs boson don't just take us nearer to a complete standard model of physics. The results affect a possible link between the Higgs and dark matter, the invisible stuff making up 80 per cent of the universe's matter.

The Higgs is the last remaining hole in the standard model, the leading theory for how particles and forces interact. On 13 December, physicists at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland, presented data from the Large Hadron Collider suggesting Higgs bosons with a mass of 125 gigaelectronvolts (GeV) were made.

The Higgs is detected by looking for suspicious excesses of particles that it might decay into. Before the recent finding, some theorists had speculated that the Higgs hadn't shown up yet because it decayed into two dark matter particles, or WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles), which would be invisible to the LHC's detectors. If that was the case, each WIMP would have to be less than half the mass of the Higgs.

Now Yann Mambrini of the University of Paris-Sud in Orsay, France, and colleagues point out that the new Higgs results suggest that the particle isn't decaying into dark matter. "The new discovery would show the Higgs is not invisible," says Mambrini.

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"Indeed, that's what my theory predicts because dark matter is simply the virtual closed fermion loops inside the vacuum making it impossible for the Higgs to decay into "dark matter particles". Instead the Higgs energy would pull ordinary virtual particles out of the vacuum when it decays." - Jack Sarfatti