The physics world was abuzz Monday with early reports that the elusive "God particle" had been detected at Europe's premier physics lab.
Discovering the particle, formally called the Higgs boson, would finalize physicists' understanding of how subatomic particles have mass, which gives an object weight.
Two international physics teams at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, in Geneva will present their results Wednesday. Their data should reveal a definitive signature that the particle exists as seen in the atom-smasher experiments at CERN.
Physicists have been pursuing the Higgs boson for three decades to understand how particles create forces, such as electromagnetism.
To physicists, mass isn't what we carry around on our waists, but the amount of resistance that matter produces as it's being moved, or inertia.
In theory, the God particle, a term coined by physicist Leon Lederman to capture its elusiveness, interacts with the other particles to give them inertia.
CERN researchers reported in December they were close to discovering the particle, but the new results are built on twice as much data.
Ahead of the expected announcement, the journal Nature reported "pure elation" Monday among physicists searching for the Higgs boson. One team saw only "a 0.00006% chance of being wrong," the journal said.
Officially, the lab is mum about the results until Wednesday. CERN technology official Steve Myers reported only that data collection for the experiments ended last month.
"We don't actually know the answer yet. We are still doing the calculations," said physicist Paul Padley of Rice University in Houston, who is on one of the physics teams presenting the findings.
"It's endless fun for us to read all these news reports about the results, before we even have finished the calculations," he said.
By Dan Vergano