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Science

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 Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @07:19PM (#32585420)

    That at least 2 of the 5 mass inducing bosons have electrical charge makes the possibility of elecronically controlling the phenomenon more practical/plausible.

    This is because they HAVE a charge, and thus, can be manipulated using the EM force.

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @07:32PM (#32585560) Homepage Journal

    If we are going to get time travel out of it we would already be neck deep in time travelers and it would be impossible to get tickets to the world cup. Neither of those things is happening so this result will not give us time travel.

  • by uranus65 (837545) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @07:34PM (#32585590)
    What is it about a particle that makes it have a particular charge? What is charge fundamentally? Are these known things or just stupid questions on my part? It seems to me if two particles can be different (positive or negative) then they must consist of something smaller that makes them that way.
  • by Grishnakh (216268) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @07:43PM (#32585684)

    I apologize in advance for my ignorant questions, but you seem like you might know the answers and be able to break it down for a layman like myself.

    First, how did Einstein postulate the existence of stimulated emission of light? Did he have some type of lab where he did experiments leading him to this conclusion, or is it all purely mathematical?

    Second, who figured out how to produce it, and how?

    As an engineer, this is the part I'm most interested in in this subject area: getting from some theorized effect in physics to being able to create and control this effect at will, and then coming up with useful applications for it. Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like schools gloss over all this stuff; they talk about Einstein coming up with E=mc^2, briefly mention some guys working on the Manhattan Project, and boom, next thing you know there's atomic bombs exploding.

    I wonder what other interesting properties in physics have been written about, perhaps even verified experimentally, but no one's yet devised a way to harness them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @07:50PM (#32585744)

    Not stupid at all. The whole idea of a "particle" is kind of misleading. What is really going on at this scale (quantum field theory) is far more terrifying and mind bending that basic quantum mechanics (which is by itself very disturbing).

    To simplify it slightly (or a whole lot actually), there are fundamental fields (like the electric and magnetic fields, for instance) which which have some associated energy density. Fields can also interact, (that is, if the fields are both nonzero at some point, there is additional energy due to them both being nonzero).

    This is all fine and dandy (no particles yet). What we have described is classical field theory. Once we quantize these fields (i.e.,
    bring in the quantum in QFT) the discrete steps these fields can take on become the "particles." The interactions between the fields become the force carriers, etc. These notions of "charge" correspond to how the fields couple.

    Physics is hard. :(

  • Re:That's awesome. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:01PM (#32585838) Journal
    I'm not sure that the people with cash would really want an even more nuclear than nuclear option floating around...

    Being the only kid on the block with nukes has its perks; but that state lasted for about 20 minutes, back in the late 40's. Since then, anybody who has them has to contend with the fact that, if they actually do anything, pretty much everybody else will freak out and glass them. This has virtually obviated the theoretical killing potential. From their invention to the present, nukes probably trail machetes(never mind Kalashnikovs and assorted knockoffs) in terms of body count. You still have to have a collection of them on the mantle, kept polished and dusted, if you want to be part of the great powers club; but you don't actually get to use them, and you can't really stop uncouth little upstarts from collecting their own. Worse, you have to deal with the fact that, although you cannot use them, non-state, covert, or just plain nihilistic actors can. Back when you could be pretty certain that only real countries had nukes, you could rely on MAD. If some nutjob, or untraceable tool of somebody's intelligence apparatus goes and blows up something expensive, the incumbents lose, and don't have any good way of retaliating.

    Some sort of uber-nuke super-superweapon would, at best, bring you back to the late 40's situation(minus the enviable economic position of being the only major industrialized nation not squatting in a pile of its own rubble). At worst, it would just antagonize the other nuclear powers.

    There will certainly always be money to keep the existing stock dusted and polished, and react to any threats to its efficacy; but I suspect that, if you want military money, you'd do much better by developing weapons that they will be able to use without excessive diplomatic trouble. Drones, precision munitions, vehicles that can't be destroyed by explosively formed penetrators that can be fabricated by anybody with a supply of ammonium nitrate and metal forming skills somewhere between "early modern blacksmith" and "1850's machine shop", etc.
  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:05PM (#32585860)

    Einstein was purely a theoretical physicist. He knew the state of the current experiments (Young's, various astronomical observations), and the state of the current math (specifically Maxwell and Boltzman). Beyond that, he managed to figure out brilliant thought experiments that pointed his math in the right direction, and was able to work with new interpretations of existing phenomena (such as his statistical interpretation of light phenomena). Actual lasers were first demonstrated in 1960.

    The reasons schools gloss over the engineering aspect are that it takes a very long time, a lot of people and a lot of tedious, small increments to go from a new physical effect to a working application. There's very little to be consistently learned about the engineering process that isn't already known.

    As for an interesting property that hasn't found an application: quantum entanglement. Yeah, we're kinda seeing baby steps, but consider how long people have been working on it, and how many supposed breakthroughs we've had. There isn't a gadget you can buy at radioshack that uses this.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:18PM (#32586010)

    First, how did Einstein postulate the existence of stimulated emission of light? Did he have some type of lab where he did experiments leading him to this conclusion, or is it all purely mathematical?

    Perhaps it was just a "hunch".

    Do you know why Kepler thought the Sun had to be at the centre of the solar system, and what he kept working at his planetary model until he got the math to work? He believe that the physical order followed the divine order: that God, as the source of all Truth and Light, was orbited by all other entities. The Sun, as the source of light in our realm of reality, therefore had to be orbited by all the entities in the sky:

    As he indicated in the title, Kepler thought he had revealed God’s geometrical plan for the universe. Much of Kepler’s enthusiasm for the Copernican system stemmed from his theological convictions about the connection between the physical and the spiritual; the universe itself was an image of God, with the Sun corresponding to the Father, the stellar sphere to the Son, and the intervening space between to the Holy Spirit. His first manuscript of Mysterium contained an extensive chapter reconciling heliocentrism with biblical passages that seemed to support geocentrism.[15]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Kepler

  • by gweihir (88907) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:35PM (#32586600)

    Whenever you look more closely, the universe is immediately replaces by something more complex and even more bizzare...

  • by khallow (566160) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:34PM (#32586952)

    I guess that Gauss et al. should not have wasted their time on pure mathematics fields (such as number theory) that had absolutely no practical applications at the time.

    I'm sure someone wasted their time on pure mathematics fields that had absolutely no practical applications at the time. Gauss wasn't one of those people. He wasted his time on fields, including pure mathematical fields, that had considerable application then and now. For example, his experience with number theory carried over to make a computation for the position of Ceres that was vastly simpler than existing methods and which since has become the "least squares method", one of the fundamental computing tools for many fields of science.

    This myth that one need not consider the value of the science that is researched is pervasive yet it fails to describe how science has actually been done. Yes, Gauss worked on a number of problems (such as the planar geometry problem of constructing a 17-sided polygon with straight edge and compass) that didn't have application (some still don't). But it's worth noting that as a result of his effort, he became knowledgeable about a great deal of mathematics, very proficient with computations, and discovered many other things during his lifetime that he wouldn't have, if he hadn't had been so aggressive in exploring mathematics. Nor would he have been a decent teacher of research mathematics with a number of important students.

    To be very blunt, any person who works on a field where there is no value returned in their lifetimes has never made it into the history books as a serious scientist. Every so often, you might find someone who anticipated a future development, but because it didn't catch on in their lifetimes, it's just of historical interest with no relevance to the development of the field (for example, the steam engine was invented in ancient Greece yet it has no relevance until the 17th or 18th century).

    In practice, now as then, scientists generally had important problems that they were trying to solve. And many, if not most of those scientists also worked on less importance, sometimes nearly irrelevant problems. But that latter work was low cost. You didn't have to sink ten billion dollars to play with quaternions or zap someone with a Leyden jar.

    Even if we grant your point quoted above, do you really think you can justify multi-billion dollar projects on the grounds that extremely cheap mathematicians puttered around centuries ago? A billion dollars is probably more than adequate to fund several thousand potential Gausses over their lifetimes. Maybe something like 20,000 mathematician years, if you spent it all now rather than through careful financing. Using your logic, that seems a lot bigger investment to me than pushing the envelop slightly on certain energetic particle collisions. I bet you'd be hard pressed to find any science that has a cost to scientific quantity comparable to mathematicians. So why not spend it all on mathematicians? My take is that any rebuttal of that argument has to take into account the value of the science involved.

  • by nametaken (610866) * on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @12:43AM (#32587624)

    These particular scientists (or rather all the employees there) let us motorcycle riders cruise around the facility surrounding the Tevatron whenever we want, and never greet us with anything but smiles and friendly conversation. Even when a bunch of biker looking guys decide to stop in and press our faces to the glass at the Fermi+CERN room or pull off on one of the access roads to take photographs of their small herd of bison, the many tanker trucks marked "Liquid Nitrogen" in big letters, or one of their many bizarre looking buildings (even the ones with the little radioactive signs on them). It's particularly amazing how open they are with unsupervised visitors given the ridiculous "fear of teh turrorists" mentality that's so prevalent now. In my mind, they really can do no wrong. I hope the ridiculously smart people there find whatever it is they're looking for... it's just a shame I'm too dumb to understand their work.

    To give you an idea...

    http://www.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Fermi+National+Lab+Library,+Batavia,+IL&sll=41.846547,-88.248367&sspn=0.07225,0.154324&ie=UTF8&hq=Fermi+National+Lab+Library,&hnear=Batavia,+Kane,+Illinois&ll=41.840856,-88.253002&spn=0.036128,0.077162&t=h&z=14&iwloc=A [google.com]

  • by Bacon Bits (926911) on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @04:45AM (#32588644)

    First thing I thought of when I read this is that there are five fundamental forces in the universe:

    1. Electricity
    2. Magnetism
    3. Gravity
    4. Weak Nuclear
    5. Strong Nuclear

    Considering that the Higgs boson was, in part, supposed to help explain how mass worked, it makes me wonder if this is the reason for the number they're arriving at.

  • Re:Ironically (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @10:36AM (#32591016)
    What is even cooler about muons displacing electrons is that, because the muons are so much heavier, they tend to sit much closer to the core of the atom. This massively reduces the amount of energy needed to get two nuclei close enough together to produce fusion. This is called muon-catalyzed fusion.

    Unfortunately, muons are very short lived. Kind of dashes our hopes for cold fusion :(

The tree of research must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of bean counters. -- Alan Kay

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