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Rumors of Higgs Boson Discovery At LHC 225

Posted by samzenpus
from the maybe-maybe-not dept.
Magnifico writes "LiveScience is reporting that scientists are abuzz over a controversial rumor that the 'God particle' has been detected by a particle-detection experiment at LHC at CERN. The Higgs boson rumor is based on what appears to be a leaked internal note from physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17-mile-long particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland. It's not entirely clear at this point if the memo is authentic... The buzz started when an anonymous commenter recently posted an abstract of the note on Columbia University mathematician Peter Woit's blog, Not Even Wrong. This could be a flat-out hoax or a statistical anomaly or... confirmation of the particle that bestows mass on all the other particles."
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Rumors of Higgs Boson Discovery At LHC

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  • by Joe The Dragon (967727) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @08:54AM (#35920748)

    crowbar

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 24, 2011 @09:22AM (#35920910)

    The Higgs-Boson is a predicted but until now unobserved particle (entity smaller than an atom) that is expected to have high mass.

    The problem is that detection of this particle is very costly, involving a particle accelerator the length of nearly 35 football fields and a matching scale beneath it. Other particles are crammed together with great force many times per second using this accelerator, and if a heavy Higgs-Boson particle is created, the building weighs a little more than normally expected for a short time.

    As you might have guessed, any sort of event that causes things to weigh slightly more or less, such as tectonic plate movement, tidal forces, or the rising of the sun must be anticipated and corrected for lest the system produces a false positive. A false positive is an ion (or particle) that looks positive at first, but is actually not. This leads to the occasional and premature celebration of the discovery of the Higgs-Boson, which is why this story is currently considered a rumor.

  • Wired article (Score:4, Informative)

    by philj (13777) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @09:24AM (#35920922)
    Here's a Wired [wired.com] article about the rumoured Higgs sighting: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/04/higgs-rumor/ [wired.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 24, 2011 @10:32AM (#35921214)

    Someone left a copy of the note on the printer in my office building. (I work on CDF at Fermilab, but there are others in the building who work on ATLAS at CERN.) The gist of the article is that they found a bump in the diphoton mass spectrum at a mass of ~115 GeV. If the Higgs exists, it is expected to produce a bump in that spectrum, and 115 GeV is a very probable value for the mass of the Higgs. (Experiments at LEP ruled out masses up to 114 GeV, but a mass as low as possible above that fits best with other measurements.)

    Now, the inconsistencies: The bump that they found is ~30 times as large as the Higgs mass peak is expected to be. However, due to field theory that I don't want to get into here, the Higgs peak in this spectrum could be larger than expected if there exist new, heavy particles that we haven't discovered yet. The latest published result from CDF sets a limit of about 30 times the expected rate at 115 GeV in the diphoton channel. (Yes, this means that, if you're optimistic enough, there's just enough wiggle room to fit a Higgs in there while accommodating both measurements.)

    The internal note is very preliminary and uses a crude background estimate; I'll have to see a more thorough analysis before I make any judgment on it. We shouldn't have to wait very long; I expect that after this leak, they'll be working overtime to push out a full published result as soon as possible.

  • by bmuon (1814306) on Sunday April 24, 2011 @11:37AM (#35921770)

    Yup, further analysis is needed to confirm it is the Higgs or something completely new. The Resonaances blog [blogspot.com] has good speculation cover as usual.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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