A spokeswoman for a U.S. laboratory has denied that the lab has found the "God particle," a sub-atomic particle that should exist to make theoretical physics valid but that so far has not been discovered.
"There's no factual basis" for the rumour published July 8 on a European physics blog that the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., found the particle, spokeswoman Rhianna Wisniewski said Tuesday.
She was responding to media reports based on a blog by Tommaso Dorigo, an experimental particle physicist who works at the European nuclear research centre and on an experiment at Fermilab.
He wrote, in a posting he described as speculative, that "it reached my ear from two different, possibly independent sources, that an experiment at the Tevatron (part of Fermilab) is about to release some evidence of a light Higgs boson signal."
The Higgs boson is the proper name of the God particle.
'Wild speculation' beats work
Dorigo then went on to write that he does not follow the work of Higgs researchers at Fermilab closely, and while he could work through their research to try and nail down the rumour, it's "too much work — while wild speculation is more fun!"
He wrote that "several 'serious' physicists and colleagues … have questioned this carefree attitude of mine in the past. What good does it do to shout 'Higgs' every second week?"
But physics needs publicity, he said.
"Suffices to say that, in a nutshell, keeping particle physics in the press with hints of possible discoveries that later die out is more important than speaking loud and clear once in 10 years, when a groundbreaking discovery is actually really made, and keeping silent the rest of the time."
There are three comments on his July 8 blog, but none adds any additional information about the rumour.
Fermilab's Wisniewski said if its researchers had found the elusive particle, they would have announced it.
Higgs boson key to Standard Model
The Higgs boson is supposed to impart mass to other particles and is seen as the last piece of the puzzle to prove the Standard Model of particle physics.
The Standard Model — with its familiar particles like electrons and photons, and less intuitive particles like muons and Higgs bosons — has proved accurate in experiments, but there are gaps in the theory that the Higgs boson would fill, if it existed.
The Large Hadron Collider in Europe, and the Tevatron collider at Fermilab, are thought to be able to do the experiments to test for the Higgs boson.
Dorigo's blog is part of a group of posts by "a distinguished group of blogging high-energy physicists" who are writing about the International Conference on High Energy Physics, to be held in Paris July 22-28.
Fermilab is the only U.S. laboratory dedicated to high-energy physics.
There has been at least one wrong rumour before, in 2007, suggesting Fermilab's Tevatron accelerator might have discovered the Higgs boson.