London: A particle believed to have played a key role in the creation of the universe might not exist after all, a media report said Tuesday quoting experts.
Scientists said last month that they were close to cornering the elusive Higgs boson or `God particle` - a tiny but vital element in the construction of life as we know it.
But hope is now fading after the disappearance of signals scientists had hoped would lead them to it, the Daily Mail reported.
The CERN research centre, whose giant Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has been carrying out the work under the mountains on the French-Swiss border, announced its scepticism at a conference in Mumbai.
Guido Tonelli, from one of the two LHC detectors chasing the Higgs, said: "Whatever the final verdict on Higgs, we are now living in very exciting times for all involved in the quest for new physics."
CERN said new results, which updated findings that caused excitement at another scientific gathering in Grenoble last month, "show that the elusive Higgs particle, if it exists, is running out of places to hide", the Mail reported.
The centre`s research director Sergio Bertolucci told the conference at Mumbai`s Tata Institute of Fundamental Research that if the Higgs did not exist "its absence will point the way to new physics".
Under what is known as the Standard Model of physics, the boson - named after British physicist Peter Higgs - is posited as having been the agent that gave mass and energy to matter just after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago.
As a result, flying debris from that primeval explosion could come together as stars, planets and galaxies.
In the subterranean LHC, which began operating in March 2010, CERN engineers and physicists have created billions of miniature versions of the Big Bang by smashing particles together at just a fraction under the speed of light.
The results of those collisions are monitored by hundreds of physicists, not just at CERN but in linked laboratories around the world which sift through the vast volumes of information generated by the LHC, the Mail said.
For some scientists, the Higgs remains the simplest explanation of how matter got mass. It remains unclear what could replace it as an explanation.