Yesterday the rumour mill appeared to be slowing down when it became clear that a simple Higgs excess from combined Tevatron data was unlikely. Now it is spinning up again with a report on the Reference Frame pointing out that some plots for a Higgs+bottom signal have mysteriously not been presented yet. Once again we need to wait for the Tevatron talk on Monday which has been pushed back to about 16:30 due to the address by Sarkozy at noon.
But is there something else going on? Why would a head of state turn up at a physics conference unless there is something news worthy about to happen? Perhaps he wants to be there when the God particle discovery is revealed to the world, but that does not really add up. The announcement can only come from a US lab and it is unlikely that the US would even alert the French president that something is to be announced.
Another clue is an ICHEP press conference scheduled for 1pm, shortly after the presidential speech. This was scheduled before it was known that the president was dropping by. This could just be a routine press conference to say what a great time everyone has had at the conference but I think there must be a little more than that. Could the press conference be another clue that an important physics result is to be announced? Well, it will take place before any talks that could describe anything new. I don’t think that possibility is right.
So who will be at the press conference? There will be Guy Wormser who chairs the ICHEP organization committee, Rolf Heuer who is the Director general of CERN, Mel Shochet who is chairman of HEPAP in the US and Atsuto Suzuki who is chairman of the International Committee for Future Accelerators. Are these people just dropping by to tell us that as representatives of experimental particle physics on three continents that they think ICHEP was great and they are looking forward to the next one, or do they have something specific to announce?
Of course the rather obvious clue is that the three main people at the press conference are the international representatives for the US, Europe and Asia for committees looking at the future particle accelerators. Their appearance suggests that they are about to announce some news about an international initiative, such as the International Linear Collider. My guess is that a deal has been reached on funding for the ILC and it will be built at CERN, and Sarkozy will announce this in his short address.
Update: There was no specific announcement about the ILC in the Sarkozy speech but he spoke extensively of French committment to funding for science in general and international projects for big physics in particular.