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Fermilab Experiment Hints At Multiple Higgs Particles 271

Posted by kdawson
from the so-many-particles-mister-fermi dept.
krou writes "Recent results from the Dzero experiment at the Tevatron particle accelerator suggest that those looking for a single Higgs boson particle should be looking for five particles, and the data gathered may point to new laws beyond the Standard Model. 'The DZero results showed much more significant "asymmetry" of matter and anti-matter — beyond what could be explained by the Standard Model. Bogdan Dobrescu, Adam Martin and Patrick J Fox from Fermilab say this large asymmetry effect can be accounted for by the existence of multiple Higgs bosons. They say the data point to five Higgs bosons with similar masses but different electric charges. Three would have a neutral charge and one each would have a negative and positive electric charge. This is known as the two-Higgs doublet model.'" There's more detail in this writeup from Symmetry Magazine, a joint publication of SLAC and Fermilab. Here's the paper on the arXiv.
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Fermilab Experiment Hints At Multiple Higgs Particles

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  • by TinBromide (921574) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:22PM (#32585442)
    Simply because you or I cannot find an immediate use for something does not mean that it is not useful. Who knows, in 15 years, knowledge gained through these experiments could lead to a better method of harvesting energy from some unknown source, or coming up with a better means of propulsion or medicine for a problem that we thought was mundane (subatomic cure for the common cold? who knows).

    It is for this reason that science should be pursued so that when someone infinitely smarter than you combines this bit of knowledge with another bit, mankind sees a tangible benefit.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:25PM (#32585494)

    This is great and all, but does this mean we'll finally get some great new technologies like artificial gravity, FTL propulsion or communication, quantum-fluctuation energy, or interdimensional travel?

    We're still getting new technologies out of the strange sub-atomic stuff others started discovering c. 120 years ago.

  • by john83 (923470) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:33PM (#32585574)
    When Einstein wrote about the stimulated emission of light in 1917 (The paper is called "Zur Quantentheorie der Strahlung"), there was (a) no example of it known in nature (still isn't, I think) (b) no known way to produce it and (c) no known application. Welcome to LaserFest [laserfest.org]
  • Re:Ironically (Score:3, Informative)

    by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:44PM (#32585690)
    Well, they were making a bet that they'd either need the additional power or that they'd get there first eliminating things more quickly. The problem though was that there wasn't any definitive evidence that they needed the extra power and the technology was sufficiently advanced that they screwed up in a few places, giving the guys over in the US the chance to keep plugging away at it. Since technically speaking the Higgs Boson still hasn't been found, the LHC still might do it, but they've lost a lot of time in the search.
  • Re:Ironically (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArbitraryDescriptor (1257752) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:02PM (#32585840)
    To be fair, they didn't actually "find" any Higgs-boson particles. They found "a one percent difference between the production of pairs of muons and pairs of antimuons in the decay of B mesons produced in high-energy collisions." And I started digging through wikipedia and some really hairy PDFs to find out why that matters and then my head exploded. Did you know muon's can displace electrons? Or that they can actually take an electron and create an element called muonium, that is effectively really light (1/9th mass) hydrogen, for a fraction of a second? Fuck, man. I hate my job, why can't I do that?

    Anyway, from the Symmetry write up:

    While the Tevatron can perform these indirect searches, it is too early to tell yet if the Higgs bosons would have masses the Tevatron can detect or would only be within reach of the higher-energy LHC.

  • by mbkennel (97636) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:05PM (#32585872)

    not the portentious/pretentious "God Particle".

    Leon Lederman called it The Goddamn Particle because finding it---or them---is so vexatious.

    His editor changed the title of the book, removing the -damn, to make it more commercially successful.

    quoth Peter Higgs: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/jun/30/higgs.boson.cern [guardian.co.uk]

    Shall y'all moderate this "Informative" or "Funny"?

  • Re:Ironically (Score:3, Informative)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:06PM (#32585878) Homepage

    The LHC wasn't built just to find the Higgs.

  • Purely Mathematical (Score:3, Informative)

    by dlenmn (145080) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:23PM (#32586072) Homepage

    I'm not a historian of science, but my understanding is that it was purely mathematical -- invented before the relevant quantum mechanics was known. As my undergrad QM text (Griffiths, p 356) says, "Einstein was forced to 'invent' stimulated emission in order to reproduce Plank's formula [wikipedia.org]." I believe he justified it with a fairly abstract thermodynamics argument (he didn't identify a mechanism, he just showed it had to be true or else thermodynamics would be violated). Sorry that I can't cite sources -- I don't have them handy.

  • by LeDopore (898286) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:26PM (#32586098) Homepage Journal

    Mods: granted this is off-topic, but I'd like to indulge the parent post's questions. I am a biophysicist.

    Let me have a stab at explaining the history of stimulated emission and lasers.

    Einstein predicted stimulated emission based just on two things: the fact that atoms can absorb light and the fact that thermodynamically, as you approach infinite temperature all possible arrangements of particles become equally likely. Consider a collection of atoms that have a ground and an excited state. As temperature (and black-body radiation) increases, more and more photons will pump atoms into the excited state. Excited states naturally decay after a certain lifetime, but without stimulated emission, at higher temperatures more and more atoms would get pumped into the excited state, until an arbitrarily large fraction of atoms would be in the excited state at arbitrarily high temperature. However, from thermodynamics we know that as you approach arbitrarily high temperature there will be a 50/50 mix of ground state and excited atoms, since high temperature favors disorder (entropy) and 50/50 mixes are maximally disordered. Therefore, there must be a process whose rate is proportional to the intensity of the thermal radiation in the system that takes an atom from the excited to the ground state; this is stimulated emission.

    Different people give credit to different inventors of the laser, but you can make a good case for Charles Townes' input being timely and critical. He figured out that putting a gain medium (a material with population inversion - more atoms in the excited than the ground state) in an optical resonator would produce coherent light through stimulated emission. He turns 95 next month, and is still going strong last I heard.

  • by alexo (9335) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:47AM (#32587360) Journal

    I believe the GP is arguing about the lost opportunity of that $10 billion. There is a finite pool of cash, and many other projects that are asking for funding. Something else got the axe so the super collider could get built... given the light of the debt crises in the western nations, maybe that cash would have been better spent later rather than right now.

    Fair enough, let's address those claims.

    The construction of LHC was approved in 1995, way before there was a crisis in Europe. The total project cost (about half of the $10B figure according to this [web.cern.ch]) is therefore spread across more than 15 years (assuming not all experiments have been run) and 20 countries [wikipedia.org]. CERN's budget for last year was about $1B (see previous link) and a similar figure in 2008 and I fully expect them to spend that money on nuclear research, as per their charter; there are other organizations that concern themselves with world hunger, bank bailouts, etc.

    Now, let's put the numbers into perspective.
    There are *individuals* [forbes.com] that can finance the LHC 5 times over. Speaking about countries, in 2009 Germany was the largest contributor to CERN with ~$200M, which was roughly 0.006% of their GDP [imf.org].

    Oh, and by the way, the discovery was made at Fermilab's Tevatron, which is both older and significantly cheaper than the LHC.

  • Re:E8? (Score:3, Informative)

    by The_Wilschon (782534) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @01:04AM (#32587454) Homepage
    No. It appears that Lisi's theory (as well as the Pati-Salam GUT upon which it is partially based) contains a single Higgs doublet, rather than the 2 Higgs doublets suggested by this D0 result.
  • by wanax (46819) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @01:28AM (#32587552)

    If you're interested in a very well written history of early nuclear physics and the atomic bomb, I'd highly recommend Richard Rhodes book The Making of the Atomic Bomb [wikipedia.org]. It does a phenomenal job of covering the theory, experiments and engineering involved in big chunk of nuclear research. It is very well written and has compelling mini-biographies of several of the scientists. No Einstein lasers though.

  • by Geirzinho (1068316) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @02:21AM (#32587818)

    That is Douglas Adams theory, one of many brilliant theories in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (http://www.amazon.com/Hitchhikers-Guide-Galaxy-Douglas-Adams/dp/0345391802).

  • by pipedwho (1174327) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @03:50AM (#32588184)

    At a certain energy, the particle will eventually be torn apart into its constituent subatomic particles. This is effectively what the super-colliders and particle accelerators do.

  • by FrangoAssado (561740) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @04:52AM (#32588438)

    When particles are entangled, if you move one the other moves with no outside influence - the action is instantaneous and distance doesn't matter.

    No -- if you move one particle, the other doesn't move instantly. Entanglement is much more subtle than that; in fact, it's hard to explain what exactly is shared between the particles without using math. One point is important, though: it's not possible to send information faster than light using quantum entanglement. So, all that talk about "instantaneous" reaction is a little misleading.

    The hard part right now is keeping them entangled at a distance - the further apart you move the particles the harder it is to keep them from losing their entanglement.

    The difficulty in maintaining (quantum) coherence has nothing to do with the distance between the particles. It's just that the particles must be kept completely isolated from everything else -- any interaction with anything else breaks the entanglement.

    So long as they are actually entangled, though, distance doesn't introduce any kind of delay in the reaction of one particle to another.

    Well, sure, for a suitable definition of "reaction". And remember it's a one time deal: once you interact with one of the particles, the other one suffers the "reaction" and then the entanglement is broken.

    If they could get it to work across the world it would be phenomenal, but so far they've only managed a few feet.

    Actually, it has been done over a few kilometers, see for example this paper [arxiv.org].

  • by inamorty (1227366) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @09:16AM (#32589666)
    Electricity and magnetism are one force [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:That's awesome. (Score:3, Informative)

    by atamido (1020905) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @10:34AM (#32590358)

    Sorry guy. The only country ever to actually drop the bomb on someone else has been the United States. And as far as the rest of the world is concerned, the US is just as if not more likely than any of the aforementioned basket cases to drop one again. All it would probably take is another relatively minor terrorist outrage.

    I know it's really fun to wave your hands in the air and yell about how the US is the only country that has ever used a nuclear bomb offensively, but it just makes you look like a goober.

    The truth is that the nuclear bombs used on Japan were nothing like later bombs. The highest estimated yield for the Fat Man is 22kt, while Tsar Bomba is 50,000kt, or about 23,000 times the power. Please go educate yourself:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapon_yield [wikipedia.org]

    The US did far more damage in a single raid against Tokyo using conventional weapons than both the nuclear weapons combined. Dropping nuclear weapons was less effective from a destruction standpoint, but that wasn't their point. The whole point of dropping them was "shock and awe", and bluffing they could drop them all month long.

    Dropping a modern nuclear weapon is in no way comparable to what was done 65 years ago.

  • by pclminion (145572) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @02:09PM (#32592766)

    Not theorized, demonstrated. We can easily achieve electroweak unification energies in the accelerators. It's a known thing.

    The "unification" of the electric and magnetic force is a different type of unification from electroweak. There truly is just one force, the electromagnetic, which seems to split into two forces because of relativity. The unification of the other forces is of an inherently different kind.

    The electric and magnetic forces are both mediated by the same particle -- the photon. This literally means they are the same force.

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen

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