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Search for Higgs "God Particle" Gets Interesing 392

Posted by kdawson
from the putting-the-standard-model-to-bed dept.
holy_calamity writes "The Large Hadron Collider is in trouble again. It will start work sometime in spring 2008, not November this year as planned. The delay has been blamed on an 'accumulation of minor setbacks,' and comes on top of a 'design fault' that saw breakdown of magnets supplied by the competing Fermilab. Yesterday Slate nicely rounded up increasingly loud rumors among physicists that Fermilab may already have seen the Higgs particle, the 'holy grail of particle physics' the LHC was build to find."
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Search for Higgs "God Particle" Gets Interesing

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  • god? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dmitrygr (736758) <dmitrygr@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:18PM (#19400685) Homepage
    "God"? What has god got to do with this?
    • Re:god? (Score:5, Informative)

      by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:25PM (#19400795) Homepage Journal
      They are undoubtedly talking about the still-only-theoretical Higgs boson [wikipedia.org], that's supposed to explain the difference between massless particles like the photon and other particles that have mass. Basically, if the Higgs boson is found, it goes along way to proving various Grand Unified Theories (GUTs) of cosmological physics.

      • Re:god? (Score:4, Informative)

        by physicsnick (1031656) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:50PM (#19401195)
        Actually the Higgs won't prove anything about GUTs. It's part of the Standard Model.
        • Re:god? (Score:5, Informative)

          by morgan_greywolf (835522) * on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:31PM (#19401863) Homepage Journal
          The problem with most GUTs is that they make assumptions that certain things, like the Standard Model of particle physics, are true. The problem is that the Standard Model is unproven, as the Higgs boson has never directly been observed.. If the Higgs boson can be observed, it goes a long way towards proving the Standard Model, which in turn, helps to support various GUTs that depend on the Standard Model.
          • Re:god? (Score:4, Interesting)

            by ZombieWomble (893157) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:52PM (#19402173)
            You're giving the Standard Model a bit of a hard rap there, aren't you? While it's technically true to state that it's "unproven" (as are all physical theories, pretty much by definition), it is among the most thoroughly tested scientific theories in history, and has been validated to extremely high degrees of precision. This gives most people some degree of confidence in the theory, even if it may not be fully fleshed out yet.

            The Higgs boson is basically the last untested facet of the theory - if it shows up in the expected region without any additional fuss, the model is pretty much entirely successful within present experimental limits and particle physicists are back to digging through the last few orders of decimal places to discover new effects.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              Einstein once criticized quantum physicists for building unproven theories on top of other unproven theories, and I believe the Standard Model was one of them. Yes, it has since withstood the rigors of many other experiments and observations. But direct observation of the Higgs boson, which has been indirectly observed, would be a great symbolic and psychologically significant victory for particle physics.

              So, yes, I agree in principle, but in spirit, direct observation of the Higgs boson would be quite sig
              • Re:god? (Score:5, Interesting)

                by onx (956508) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @11:23PM (#19406859)
                morgan_greywolf

                The problem with most GUTs is that they make assumptions that certain things, like the Standard Model of particle physics, are true.
                Additionally, all GUTs make assumptions. Not only that, but all of science and mathematics are based on assumptions. You see, at some point assumptions are required. These assumptions aren't exactly outlandish, far from it! You would have an extremely hard time proving that the assumptions they are using are wrong, or incomplete and coming up with new and better ones. It has happened quite a few times (Copernicus for example), but it isn't very often, and it can result in unbelievable fame. Einstein was one of those guys who challenged assumptions and conclusions. Einstein was, partially of course, responsible for the birth of quantum mechanics.

                Not only that, but people constantly challenge and check these assumptions as technology progresses. For example, physicists as recently as 2003 (and probably even more recently than that) used an astronomical technique to experimentally determine the weak equivalence principle, an idea originating to Newton way back in 1687 with Principia, to an accuracy of 1 + or - 10^-18. Astonishing!
                (The weak equivalence principle is the assumption that when you write F=ma=-G[(M*m)/(r^2)] the little "m" in the middle equals the little "m" on the right.)

                These are things that ZombieWomble pointed out when he tried to explain why popular GUTs assume that the Standard Model is true, as I have reproduced below.

                ZombieWomble

                While it's technically true to state that [the Standard Model is] "unproven" (as are all physical theories, pretty much by definition), it is among the most thoroughly tested scientific theories in history, and has been validated to extremely high degrees of precision. This gives most people some degree of confidence in the theory, even if it may not be fully fleshed out yet.

                I would like to add to this. The reason that physicists pursuing a GUT (such as string theory) assume that the Standard Model is correct, is because it is, Higgs boson or no*. A GUT must "reduce to" the predictions of the Standard Model in its limit just as The Special Theory of Relativity (relativistic kinetic energy) reduces to (or does not conflict with) the Newtonian formulation in the classical limit. *The predictions made by the Standard Model, to the limits explored thus far by the Tevatron, agree with experiment.

                You responded to ZombieWomble with:
                morgan_greywolf

                Einstein once criticized quantum physicists for building unproven theories on top of other unproven theories, and I believe the Standard Model was one of them.
                To this I just have to ask, what's your point? Remember ZombieWomble talking about how all physical theories are unprovable "pretty much by definition"? Einstein publicly criticized a lot of things. To me this criticism is not very interesting, or insightful. Physics is about building the best model we can to describe the universe. If talking about particles being points, strings, or even tiny little Jesus dolls makes the math work out awesomely, who cares that our awesome new GUT that makes novel and accurate predictions says that a photon is actually a little Jesus doll? I sure don't.


                One more thing that might interest you: physics is circular. How do you like that?
      • Re:god? (Score:4, Funny)

        by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @03:02PM (#19402347)

        They are undoubtedly talking about the still-only-theoretical Higgs boson

        The fools! Most type-13 planets destroy themselves when they attempt to determine the mass of the Higgs boson and accidentally shrink the planet to the size of a pea.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by slashthedot (991354)
      Perhaps it has to do with the assumption of this particle having some god-like properties.
      The Wikipedia article says it was mentioned in the movie "Solaris". Anyone remember what this particle did in the movie?
      • Solaris (Score:2, Informative)

        by iknownuttin (1099999)
        The Wikipedia article says it was mentioned in the movie "Solaris". Anyone remember what this particle did in the movie?

        I saw the original Russian version made in the '70s (yeah, queue the "In Soviet Russia, movies make you!", jokes) . It was a very original movie.

        Basically, these cosmonauts go to a space station orbiting Jupiter, I think, or one of the outer solar planets. Anyway, on the station, anything their thinking of, will manifest. For instance, the protagonist really misses his wife who died a nu

        • Or read the book, by Stanislaw Lem. When my roommate in college lent me this book, I got so wrapped up in it, I read it in one night! (It's fairly short.) I haven't seen the original movie, but the newer movie was "meh" at best (didn't have half the cool stuff that the book did).

          To make this post quasi-on topic, though, I don't recall any mention of the particle. (Doesn't mean it doesn't exist, I just don't recall.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The Wikipedia article says it was mentioned in the movie "Solaris". Anyone remember what this particle did in the movie?

        It replaced SunOS?
      • Re:god? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by HexRei (515117) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:59PM (#19401311)
        I can't remember if it was specifically mentioned in the Russian "Solyaris" (subtitled movies don't seem to stick as well in my memory) but in the American remake it was suggested by one character that the "visitors" were a result of a "Higgs field". Later a device is constructed based on that assumption that is able to destroy at least one visitor.
      • by Amouth (879122)
        better yet.. can someone tell what happened in that movie.. i remember watching it.. but i can't remember what it was about - nor do i think i knew when i watched it
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jonny_eh (765306)
      God has as much to do with this as Zeus.

      This whole 'God Particle' term is an embarrassment to science, it sounds catchy but just gets the religious believers excited. Maybe we should've called stem cells 'god' cells, and maybe Bush wouldn't have cut its research funding.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by dougman (908)
        I like your jab at Bush, but here's a couple of facts:

        An appropriations rider was passed by Congress in 1996 (the Dickey Amendment) forbidding federal funding for any research that creates, injures or destroys human embryos. Clinton signed it into law. Bush sought to relax that law.

        "The President's answer was that there ought to be no restrictions on the private sector but that federal subsidies should be limited to lines that had already been harvested and should not be used to encourage the destruction of
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by plague3106 (71849)
          I agree that the other crap can go, but given the choice between publicly funded medical research which anyone could use the results of, and privately funded that will find a 'cure' and sell it for a mere $10 million a pop, I'd take the former. Also, I don't think we need more pills to help rich old white men get it up... but that's what we're getting when greed decides what research is 'worthy.'
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by lgw (121541)
            I'm trying to follow you here: you'd rather see no cure than a cure that costs $10 million a pop (and presumably $10 a pop in fifty years, technology being what it is)? Here's a hint: rich people willing to spend absurd amounts of money to extend their lives by 6 months fund most of medical research. What do you propose: "no, no, you don't deserve to live another 6 months, so you're not allowed to spend your money, meanwhile we'll take everyone's tax dollars instead"?

            As for "greed deciding": the only true
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mashade (912744)

      Search for Higgs "God Particle" Gets Interesing
      I don't know what God has to do with it, but what's this Interesing stuff, and where can I get it?
      tags: interesting ;)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by UbuntuDupe (970646)
      That he doesn't exist.

      *please mod informative, please mod informative*
    • Re:god? (Score:5, Informative)

      by WaZiX (766733) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:39PM (#19401031)
      "God"? What has god got to do with this?

      It's often referred to as the God particle because of its significance in physics, it would explain why matter has mass.
      It probably also has a lot to do with the fact that the existance of the Mass-Free Higgins Boson particle was theoretically predicted, but has never been observed (until now?). This elusiveness to be observed and hence proven it existed is probably the reason why it got this nickname...
      • blame Mr. Lederman (Score:3, Informative)

        by slew (2918)
        I think it was Mr. Lederman [wikipedia.org] that originally coined this phrase in his pop-sci book, The God Particle...

        I think he's also attributed to the wiki-quote...

        My ambition is to live to see all of physics reduced to a formula so elegant and simple that it will fit easily on the front of a T-shirt.
      • Error (Score:3, Informative)

        by WaZiX (766733)
        I thought the Higgs-Boson was mass free because of it's nature as the particule responsible for mass...

        Upon reading wikipedia, I was wrong: link [wikipedia.org]

        The Standard Model does not predict the value of the Higgs boson mass. If the mass of the Higgs boson is between 115 and 180 GeV, then the Standard Model can be valid at energy scales all the way up to the Planck scale (1016 TeV). Many theorists expect new physics beyond the Standard Model to emerge at the TeV-scale, based on unsatisfactory properties of the S
    • Re:god? (Score:5, Funny)

      by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:41PM (#19401061) Homepage Journal
      "God"? What has god got to do with this?"
      Well it could be the use of God in the scientific way meaning that all other particles come from this one particle.
      Or it could be using the term God as in the creator of all things which is pretty much the same as the first.

      So the real question is are you ask because you are an extreme theist nut case that takes offense at the idea of a God particle because it is an affront to God, or are you an Extreme atheist whack job that takes offense at any use of the word God because it infringes on not having the idea of a supreme being mentioned in your presence?

      Notice that is really is hard to tell the nut job from the wack job.
    • What does... God... need... with a particle?
    • Re:god? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chemicalscum (525689) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @12:03AM (#19407139) Journal
      The term "god particles" was pushed by the Nobel prizewinning particle physicist Leon Lederman (though he may not have invented the term) he even wrote a popular book with this name. He was Director of Fermilab back in the early nineties during the push to get congressional funding for the Superconducting Super Collider which was designed to find the Higgs Boson.

      I think he pushed the term to try to get approval from the religious right in congress who were typically suspicious about funding big science. They SSC ended not getting funding anyway. Primarily because of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the congressman no longer felt the need to pony up for any big project the physicists proposed as which they thought would give them technical superiority over the Soviets (and maybe the new super weapon of mass destruction). So the funding motion fell.

      The religious right was certainly not going to fund the cathedrals of science. Anyway Lederman was not really using the term in the sense that Christians or religious Jews would, but rather in the same way that Einstein used the word "God" to mean the totality of physical law.

  • Is it me... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    or does this sound like the beginning plot to DOOM 3?
  • by wizardforce (1005805) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:28PM (#19400837) Journal
    From the article:

    The current rumor, which comes in time for the summer conference circuit, may be different. It claims an experiment at the Tevatron has found a peak twice as high as the previous rumors' bumps. And unlike the other rumors, this one includes details: the new particle's mass, for instance, which fits within theoretical bounds on the standard model Higgs. Some versions include a decay chain, which describes what the new particle turned into as the experiment progressed, and which may be consistent with the standard model's predictions.

    the higgs particle is one of the last yet undiscovered predictions of the standard model.

    But what happens if the Higgs turns out to be just right? Well, then the standard model predicts that you'd need a machine roughly a quadrillion times more powerful than the LHC to find anything new.

    if we find the higgs it makes the standard model more convincing as far as its predictive power but by no means means it is correct.
    • by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:52PM (#19401245) Homepage

      Looking at this blog [wordpress.com] linked to from the Slate article, one thing that seems inconsistent with the Slate article's interpretation is that they're saying that the observations aren't consistent with a standard-model Higgs; it would have to be something outside the standard model, like, e.g., a supersymmetric Higgs. (Actually, I'm not really clear on what a "supersymmetric Higgs" means; is it two particles, a Higgs plus its supersymmetric partner?) The Slate article, however, raises the idea that the observations might simply confirm the standard model, and that would be it. Am I misunderstanding something?

      Is the Tevatron still running? If so, could it be the sort of thing where the collaboration might just be trying to collect more data, so as to make it an 8-sigma observation instead of a 4-sigma one?

      • by The_Wilschon (782534) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:25PM (#19401761) Homepage
        Supersymmetric Higgs is the equivalent particle (actually 5 particles, IIRC) to the Standard Model's Higgs boson which is predicted by a Quantum Field Theory which includes supersymmetry and predicts all of the particles that we have already seen.

        IIRC, the standard model Higgs has not been excluded yet. But a whole lot of people are expecting to see SUSY (supersymmetry) at the LHC, so those same people also expect to see a SUSY Higgs rather than a standard model Higgs.

        The Tevatron is still running, and running better than it ever has been before (higher luminousity). Well over 2 fb^-1 of data have been taken so far, and by the end in 2009, about 8 fb^-1 are expected. A few months ago, CDF published a new measurement of the W boson mass, which is coupled to the Higgs mass, which suggested that the Higgs mass ought to be fairly low. A fairly low mass Higgs might be observable at the Tevatron, so a whole lot more people than before are looking for the Higgs a whole lot harder than before. This W mass measurement is probably the "rumor" referred to in TFSummary.

        Of course, we can't just look at one event and say "Oh look! I saw the Higgs boson!" There are a lot of other processes that have signatures very similar to the Higgs signature (I've worked on measuring one of those processes, Z + b jet), so we need to have a lot of Higgs events in order to distinguish them from background events. The top quark discovery was announced with, IIRC, 22 top pair events. I'd guess that we'll need even more than that number of Higgs events to have a decent Higgs discovery measurement.

        Even if the Tevatron does discover the Higgs, don't worry, there will still be plenty for the LHC to do. Measure the properties of the Higgs, for one. But more importantly, within a few months of LHC startup, we should see SUSY.

        Also, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Fermilab and CERN are not in competition. CDF and D0 might be considered to be in competition, as might ATLAS and CMS. But not really even with those pairs. It is science, and it is scientists. We are concerned with getting science done, wherever it is done. An enormous number of the people at Fermilab now are either already also working at CERN or are planning to start CERN work soon. The fact that a Fermilab designed system failed is not indicative that Fermilab is trying to sabotage CERN, but rather just that people make mistakes. Fermilab has no incentive to sabotage CERN.
        • by bcrowell (177657)
          within a few months of LHC startup, we should see SUSY.
          I'm not a particle physicist. Can you explain more about why you're so confident? AFAICT, supersymmetry could be false, and even if it's true, it's clearly a broken symmetry. If it's broken, and the symmetry breaking leads to masses for the supersymmetric particles that are much higher than those of their standard model counterparts, is there some reason to think that the masses are within a certain range, accessible to the LHC?
        • by geekoid (135745)
          "Fermilab has no incentive to sabotage CERN."

          actually, they do. From your post:

          "An enormous number of the people at Fermilab now are either already also working at CERN or are planning to start CERN work soon."

          Does Fermilab want to loose the brain power?

          Not that they are sabotaging, and I don't think they are, but there is incentive.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by vondo (303621)
            Many of the people the GP is referring to work for Fermilab. They are paid by Fermilab to work on one of the CERN experiments. In fact, after CERN itself, I suspect Fermilab is the single largest contributor to the CERN experiments. Fermilab is going to do this kind of physics whether it is done using their own accelerator or not. Of course, they would rather it be done with their own accelerator, but some time (say a year) after the LHC turns on that's not really feasible anymore.

            So they won't lose the bra
        • A few corrections (Score:5, Informative)

          by Roger W Moore (538166) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:42PM (#19403891) Journal
          Supersymmetric Higgs is the equivalent particle (actually 5 particles, IIRC) to the Standard Model's Higgs boson which is predicted by a Quantum Field Theory which includes supersymmetry and predicts all of the particles that we have already seen.

          A few corrections. a SUSY Higgs is NOT the equivalent of adding 5 new particles to the SM but, infact involves doubling the number of particles and then adding 4 new Higgs bosons (since the SM already has one). What you are thinking of is a two Higgs doublet model which does NOT require SUSY i.e. we can have 5 Higgs bosons without Supersymmetry.

          But more importantly, within a few months of LHC startup, we should see SUSY.

          Woa! Nobody should expect to see SUSY ANYWHERE! For all we know, although it is a beautiful theory, it may be completely wrong! Even if it does occur in nature it may not occur within reach of the LHC energies. While the solution to the fine tuning problem would require SUSY at a "low" energy (compared to the GUT scale!) the upper limit is very rough. If SUSY occurs at 10TeV it is somewhat unnatural but by no means a huge problem even 100Tev is probably not out of the question - and this is assuming that nature uses SUSY to solve finte tuning - it may well not. Don't get me wrong - I'm someone looking for SUSY - and I hope to see it but it is by no means expected no matter how keen theorists get about it!
    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by ZombieWomble (893157)

      if we find the higgs it makes the standard model more convincing as far as its predictive power but by no means means it is correct.

      It makes it rather harder to convince governments to fund massive facility budgets though: "We have this theory which has proven almost exactly right in every test we've thrown at it, and now we're out of ideas. Can we have $80 billion to build a system ten times bigger to see if we can just brute force some new phenomena?"

      There is a distinct lack of a focus in the near future for particle physics if the Higgs is found and doesn't raise even a little question. All that's left to do is bigger numbers and h

  • So, they're messing about with the Higgs Boson--that means the planet is about to collapse into the size of a pea, if I remember things correctly.
    • I've long held (mostly out of sheer amusement) that the reason we haven't been contacted by space aliens is that every intelligent species proceeds through roughly the same sequence of scientific discovery, and they all get to an inevitable point of trying an experiment which invariably wipes out their entire planet & civilization.

      We almost had it with the first nuke test, when scientists allegedly acknowledged there was a non-trivial chance that detonating the first fusion bomb would set the planet on
      • Actually no, civilization progressed in three stages: 1) How can we eat?, 2) Why do we eat?, and 3) Where shall we have lunch?

        The lack of space aliens is owing to the lack of eight star restaurants. They cannot abide hearing "Do you want fries with that?"

        SETI requires closing down McDonalds which is why Clinton refused to fund it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Phroon (820247)

        Maybe the Higgs boson test will, like other species that tried to make one, turn us into merely a dark stain on the space-time fabric.

        Discovery != Production.

        The thing is, there is a good probability that we've already created at least one Higgs boson at Fermilab. The problem with this kind of science isn't making one, it's that you have to make 3000 (or more). The problem then is that you lose 3000 of them because the decay chains of the Higgs boson turns into something you can't separate from backg

  • Not (Score:5, Funny)

    by OSS_ilation (922367) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:32PM (#19400907)
    as interesing (sic) as the search for a Slashdot spellchecker!
  • Bizarre (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iamacat (583406)
    Why should any scientist hope that standard model will or will not turn out to be true? Nature doesn't care how many billions was spent on a new particle accelerator. Just be happy that we may have discovered something new and move on to a million things that we still don't understand, including much of what's happening on our own planet.
    • Re:Bizarre (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dreamchaser (49529) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:39PM (#19401021) Homepage Journal
      They care about finding out one way or another so they can move on to other investigations. Many scientists are just as happy to find out the theory they are testing is *disproven* as they are when it's *proven*. It's about advancing the body of knowledge.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Phat_Tony (661117)
        Yes, this is a nice idea. Scientists don't have egos, or personal investments in being right about things. Experiments showing negative results have equal chances of being published as papers showing positive results. Funding sources won't consider a scientist's past success record, their publication record, or how many new theories of theirs were proven versus disproven in determining funding. And even if they did, scientists are pure and don't care about money or funding or prestige for themselves or thei
    • by cowscows (103644)
      That's just standard human behavior. Nobody wants to spend years or decades working on something that ends up not really accomplishing anything. While the greater good of science might have been served by someone else making the discovery, it doesn't mean that these people won't be disappointed that they'll miss out on the thrill of making that discovery themselves. Maybe it's ego, maybe it's worry about their funding, maybe they just hate those physicists over in the US... but don't pretend that just becau
    • by Chris Burke (6130)
      Why should any scientist hope that standard model will or will not turn out to be true? Nature doesn't care how many billions was spent on a new particle accelerator. Just be happy that we may have discovered something new and move on to a million things that we still don't understand, including much of what's happening on our own planet.

      Because that affects what science is done in the future. Just like when the first experiments were done to verify relativity, when shown to make accurate predictions furth
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Dan Ost (415913)
      If we run a bunch of tests and they all agree with the current model, then that doesn't prove anything. However, if we run a single test and it disagrees with the model, then we've proved that there is something wrong with the current model and the model is either adapted or replaced.

      This is how science progresses.
  • by RMB2 (936187) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:34PM (#19400939)
    I'm getting rather bothered by continuously seeing these /. posts implying that scientists are so non-cooperative. The last few stories about LHC have even nearly insinuated that it was somehow Fermilab's fault that there were design issues with the magnet structures, almost as if the mistakes had been intentional.

    Perhaps the men and women working in the more news-worthy branches of accelerator physics have to try and defeat each other. My experiences have only ever been constructive and helpful; contemporaries offering knowledge, insight and advice to help my research succeed, rather than breaking the equipment so they can steal the glory.

    I hope that /. editors become aware of the slant they have continuously put on the LHC setback stories.
    • Moo ha ha! (Score:3, Funny)

      by HiggsBison (678319)

      I'm getting rather bothered by continuously seeing these /. posts implying that scientists are so non-cooperative. The last few stories about LHC have even nearly insinuated that it was somehow Fermilab's fault that there were design issues with the magnet structures, almost as if the mistakes had been intentional.

      The scientists are not to blame. Fermilab has a herd of bison. We fiddled with the magnet structures. We're not so dumb as we look.

  • by zmollusc (763634) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:35PM (#19400961)
    ... are these large hadrons anyway? Couldn't they have built a small prototype machine for colliding tiny hadrons first, then scaled up when they had got it all sorted out? Idiots!
    • by Yetihehe (971185)
      They have. It's called tevatron.
    • by WaZiX (766733)
      They are particle accelerators...

      And yes, they started small and grew bigger and bigger (although I recently read that they found a way to minatiurize the process dramatically by using plasma if I remember correctly).
    • by stox (131684)
      Screw the Large Hadrons, I'm interested in those compact muons. Have you seen how huge the compact muon solenoid (CMS) is? I wonder just how large the non-compact muon solenoid would be?
  • While many top people set their sites on the LHC, a core of dedicated scientists have stuck by their guns and continued their research at Fermilab. Now they may be having the last laugh.

    Commendations for their dedication and hard work!!!

    Maybe someone can convince our politicians to continue work at Fermilab instead of shutting it down in the near future.
    • by rubycodez (864176)
      heheh, but let's not forget a Fermilab screwup has delayed the LHC, scandalous accusations might be part of the fun
  • lynx -dump http://tinyurl.com/2hfsqq |sed -n '12p'|sed 's/\[//;s/12\]//g'
  • God particle (Score:5, Interesting)

    by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:46PM (#19401153) Homepage
    Because if this particle exists, and behaves as described, that would mean that you'd find enough energy for a "big bang" in, say, a cubic meter of empty space.

    In short, this particle has enough energy for massive events, and it's omnipresent.

    Also it decays, meaning that (minute quantities of ...) matter are constantly being created, due to the off chance that a higgs boson would decay into a top and bottom quark and one of the top quarks decays into an electron and a few other things that will combine into a proton and voila ... a hydrogen atom ... out of nowhere. Literally out of nowhere.

    Eventually, gravity (in short : by passing through a black hole, yes through, you read correctly), it will recombine into the original higgs boson.

    So basically this will reduce "God"'s role in the creation of the universe further back before the big bang, by essentially verifying another prediction by the standard model, which will probably result in the following "creation" facts :
    1) the universe has always existed, it neither came into existance, nor will it "ever" end (which is a bogus question anyway, since time only exists INSIDE the universe, it's pointless to ask what was there before the beginning of time, like it's pointless to ask where the moon is on the surface of the earth : it just isn't a location)
    2) there are many, many, many big bangs, ours was neither the first, nor will it be the last, a big bang will occur "spontaneously" every x (trillion trillion) years.
    3) the reason we haven't heard from people created in other big bangs is simple : it's not possible due to the massive distances involved, which are uncrossable, even by mere (massless) light.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by HexRei (515117)
      But Jesus and the Bible and Heaven.
    • Re:God particle (Score:4, Interesting)

      by zCyl (14362) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:44PM (#19402051)

      So basically this will reduce "God"'s role in the creation of the universe further back before the big bang, by essentially verifying another prediction by the standard model, which will probably result in the following "creation" facts :

      In such debates, people always miss the deeper question. If you have a spectacularly wonderful description of all the laws of physics which completely describe how the universe was created, then how did those laws of physics come into being?

      If you explain that with more laws which create the next set of laws, then how did those laws come into being? Surely it's not turtles all the way down.
      • Re:God particle (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:53PM (#19402191)
        You have the same exact problem with "God" explanations, as well.

        How did the God come into being?

        If God were self-existent, why not the Universe? Wouldn't it be more sensible to have a self-existent universe, than a self-existent God, who is by definition separate from the Universe? (by def: if not by def, then why use another term than "Universe" or "Nature"?)
      • Yes, turtles (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mdsolar (1045926)
        However, they are reflections of the original turtle as when you have two mirrors face each other. In other words, self-similarity allows a kind of rolled out recursion that likely resolves your paradox.

        But, you are treading on dangerous theological ground. You would equate the creation with the act of creation (logos) and you are not up to comprehending the act. If you take, say, designing and building a house as an analogy, you ultimately find that there is no unique creation that has occured because
    • So, eh, does this mean that the universe is infinite, and can we harness a small boxful of this stuff to provide enough energy for our civilisation for all eternity?

    • Re:God particle (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @03:09PM (#19402459) Homepage

      So basically this will reduce "God"'s role in the creation of the universe further back before the big bang

      Why must we use physics to support atheistic antagonization of religious people? What relation does one thing have to another? I'll give you a tip here: If someone believes in God today, the discovery of a new particle tomorrow won't make the stop believing.

      There's no room for argumentation; if you posit the existence of an all-powerful god, then it would be within that god's power to make the universe however he chose. He could have made it so that all scientific evidence and all possible human understanding would imply that the universe had always existed. If you held this belief, it would not be the sort of belief that science deals with, and therefore no amount of scientific discovery could take away from it.

      And before you start flaming me, calling me a crazy zealot or whatever you like, it may be worthwhile to note that I don't hold the sort of belief I'm describing. I just wish that people wouldn't waste all this energy antagonizing each other for no reason. If your grand hope for science is to refute some religion's particular creation myth, then you'll only waste your own time and try other people's patience.

      • Simple (Score:3, Insightful)

        by geekoid (135745)
        The more we understand the universe around us, the bigger God gets.

        Of course the bigger Gods gets, the more the bible becomes a collection of stories by men, and then edited by a council of people, and not the direct word of God. Something some people can not handle.

        But the heart of your post is correct-If someone believe Pink Invisible Ponies created the universe, then no amount of logic will change that.

    • Re:God particle (Score:5, Interesting)

      by bcrowell (177657) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @04:09PM (#19403413) Homepage

      You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about.

      Because if this particle exists, and behaves as described, that would mean that you'd find enough energy for a "big bang" in, say, a cubic meter of empty space.
      No, the existence or nonexistence of the Higgs doesn't imply any particular value for the zero-point energy of the vacuum [wikipedia.org] or the cosmological constant. Actually, nobody has the faintest idea how to calculate the cosmological constant from first principles. When they try, they get answers that are something like 10^100 times bigger than what's actually observed. In any case, the cosmological constant is already known, with fairly small error bars (as things like these go in cosmology). The Higgs is part of the standard model, and the standard model fails miserably to explain the observed value of the cosmological constant. One of the attractive features of supersymmetry (which may or may not be true, independently of the existence of the Higgs) is that it helps to explain how a lot of the vacuum energy could cancel out neatly.

      Also it decays, meaning that (minute quantities of ...) matter are constantly being created, due to the off chance that a higgs boson would decay into a top and bottom quark and one of the top quarks decays into an electron and a few other things that will combine into a proton and voila ... a hydrogen atom ... out of nowhere. Literally out of nowhere.
      No, if the Higgs exists, then it exists in nature only as a virtual particle. In this respect, it's no different from the W and the Z. The W and Z exist as virtual particles in any vacuum, and they have certain decay modes, but those decay modes aren't observed in a vacuum, because they're virtual particles.

      So basically this will reduce "God"'s role in the creation of the universe further back before the big bang
      No. The (standard) big bang model says that the big bang was a singularity where time began. According to the standard big bang model, there was no "before." The rest of your list (points 1-3) show a complete failure to understand basic ideas about the big bang model, such as the fact that the big bang was not an explosion that took place within a preexisting spacetime.

  • A few questions for those in the know... Why is the Tevatron scheduled to shut down in 2009? Couldn't there be more science performed there? What ever happened to the 26 mile radius accelerator that was planned for New Mexico? It seems that a particle accelerator can do more than just find weird particles. $8EU seems extravagant for one tiny little thing. Any thoughts or answers? Peace
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rubycodez (864176)
      You mean the SSC which was to be built in Texas, 54 mile circumference and only 15 miles of tunnel bored built before funding pulled in 1993. I worked on part of the design SSC (haha yeah, me and hundreds of other engineers and physicists, my job at Fermilab was a very very minor) Sure, accelerators can be used by schools (indeed Fermilab for example is run by consortium of universities), but they're very very expensive. If standard model is verified there really isn't much more to be learned in high ene
  • by Henry V .009 (518000) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @01:57PM (#19401293) Journal
    There's a good wrap-up of this at http://dorigo.wordpress.com/2007/06/05/the-higgs-r umor-spreads-again/ [wordpress.com]

    He's been following it since the rumor first surfaced. Imagine how the LHC folks will feel if this turns out to be accurate. Billions spent to search for a particle that is found before their collider is even complete.
  • Purpose of the LHC (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sidb (530400) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @02:34PM (#19401897) Homepage
    The LHC is not being built for the express purpose of finding the Higgs boson. It's being built to find whatever there is to find at very high energies, and the Higgs boson is simply one of the most anticipated possibilities. There are four main detectors around the acceleration ring, and each contains a bewildering array of instrumentation to detect all sorts of things that might occur. Even if Fermilab beats LHC to this particular confirmation, there is plenty of purpose to continuing LHC, contrary to the /. summary's implication.
  • by perturbed1 (1086477) on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @05:03PM (#19404109)

    This week is "the Trigger and Physics week" for ATLAS [atlas.ch], which is one of the two major experiments at the LHC. The opening talk by the head of the collaboration clearly laid out the LHC schedule, but on slides that are not published on the agenda. The original article that is referred in the /. gist has gotten it wrong!

    The LHC schedule can not be publicly released until it is approved by the CERN council, which is meeting on the 18th of June. Presumably, once approved, CERN will make a public statement about the plans.

    Currently, the plan is to close the experiments for "bake-out" and readying towards a full LHC cool-down and vacuum test around end of March. "Closing the experiments" means that the beam-pipe is one sealed throughout the 27km ring, which seriously limits the movement, fixing and other assembly tasks of the detector communities, so this is a "deadline" for detectors to be "ready for data-taking".

    It takes anywhere between a month or two to ready the ring for insertion of *a* beam. It is looking likely right now, that *a* beam will be inserted into the ring around mid-May. However, that is not enough for the operation of the LHC. The LHC is a Collider, so it needs *two* beams to collide. Colliding two beams within an average design beam spot of 16 microns, is no easy task after having them traveling around 27km. (Before the beams are steered the collide, they are "squeezed" to a smaller radius so that the "density" of collisions are higher. This density of collisions, is what determines the luminosity, or, the number of interactions that happen between two beams, and gives the effective high resolution power of the collider.)

    Once "one" beam is commissioned inside the LHC, the other beam, traveling opposite to the first one, will be commissioned. Noone really knows how long it will take to really understand and fine-tune the path (or orbit) of the beams inside the ring, but that is what determines when the LHC will get collisions and the first real data will start flowing, if the detectors, can actually time-in and calibrate, and move/push the data off of the detectors into the Grid for analysis. Now, Lyn Evans, who is the head of the LHC commissioning has repeatedly said that he imagines that is will take at least 3 months to get collisions, once a single-beam is commissioned..

    So FALL 2008 is the earliest any realist is expecting to see collisions from the LHC. Then the ball is in the detectors' courtyard to collect data continuously and efficiently, to be able to calibrate all detectors in a timely fashion, to identify and fix detectors problems, and to push the (high bandwidth) data out to the analysis farms...

    First physic results out of the LHC will not be before Summer 2009... The first paper will be a boring "foo is the multiplicity of events" and the next will be "bar is the cross-section for Drell-Yan/mininum bias processes" paper. The one after that might be interesting though!!

  • by CFD339 (795926) <<moc.htroneht> <ta> <pwerdna>> on Tuesday June 05, 2007 @06:35PM (#19404995) Homepage Journal
    Tell him we've already got one. It's very nice.
  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday June 06, 2007 @01:43AM (#19407673)
    "God particle" is an affectionate term for the particle use by Actual Scientists. Stop whining about its.

    Hard core pendantry can be really ugly, kids.

    But if you must: the term was coined by Leon Lederman, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1988. That scientific enough for you?

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