The Large Hadron Collider's ATLAS detector under construction in 2005. ATLAS is one of the tools physicists are using to try and understand how the universe works. Maximilien Brice/CERN hide caption

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Maximilien Brice/CERN

High-energy physics in action: an image of an event in CERN's CMS detector during the search for the Higgs boson. CERN hide caption

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If you know the signs to look for, it becomes clear that the Earth itself is breathing. Reto Stockli/Alan Nelson/Fritz Hasler/NASA hide caption

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Reto Stockli/Alan Nelson/Fritz Hasler/NASA

Don't panic! The end of the Universe (as we know it) isn't likely to hit us for billions of years, if it comes at all. Pictured: the Milky Way rises above the ESO's ALMA facility in Chile. José Francisco Salgado/ESO hide caption

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José Francisco Salgado/ESO

One way we make sense of the cosmos is to study what's in it, objects like this brown dwarf (artist's impression) observed by the ESO's ALMA project. Another way is to watch what happens when tiny particles are smashed together in "labs" such as the LHC at CERN. M. Kornmesser/ALMA/ESO/NAOJ/NRAO hide caption

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Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Sean Carroll Tells A Story Of Humanity In The Hunt For The Higgs Boson

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The Universe of Particles exhibition at CERN in 2011. Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

This visualization shows the electron density in a quantum dot, an artificial atom. Wei Qiao, David Ebert, Marek Korkusinski, Gerhard Klimeck/NCN, Purdue University hide caption

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Wei Qiao, David Ebert, Marek Korkusinski, Gerhard Klimeck/NCN, Purdue University