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Has LHC Seen a Hint of the Higgs? 96

Posted by Soulskill
from the or-did-ted-drop-his-sandwich-in-the-machine-again dept.
gbrumfiel writes "Researchers at two detectors at the Large Hadron Collider are seeing something unusual. The signal is faint, but it could be from the long-sought Higgs particle. The Higgs is part of the mechanism that gives other particles mass, and it also unifies the electromagnetic and electroweak forces. No one is willing to declare it found just yet, but the new data from the CMS and ATLAS detectors are an independent, 'tantalizing' hint of what's to come. The results were presented today at HEP-2011 in Grenoble, France."
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Has LHC Seen a Hint of the Higgs?

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  • Well (Score:2, Funny)

    by shoehornjob (1632387)
    It hasn't opened a wormhole to another dimension yet.... I remain unimpressed.
    • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:29PM (#36851134) Journal

      It hasn't opened a wormhole to another dimension yet...

      We also have not found the Higgs yet there is not enough data to distinguish this from a fluctuation in the background. Frankly I'm appalled at Nature for printing wild, inflammatory speculation like this. If their editors have this level of ignorance of science you have to question what sort of decisions they are making regarding the journal itself...not that many particle physics papers are typically submitted there: perhaps this is why!

      • Well if I hadn't already posted you would get my mod points.
      • by forand (530402)
        I believe they posted this because CMS and ATLAS both reported seeing a 2.5 sigma bump today in a variety of venues. It is not in the peer reviewed portion of the journal only in the news section.
        • by JamesP (688957)

          Never mind there are several things that can be different, like electrical charge, decay patterns, etc from the Higgs.

          Sincerely, if they find the Higgs, then I would consider it a failure of modern science. Unless it's significantly different from the theory.

          You see, the Higgs mechanism is like a patch over a mostly great theory. Electroweak is great, but Higgs seems like a kludge. QCD has its problems as well, but the Higgs is like a sore thumb.

          More and more it seems people will only find what they've been

          • by Maritz (1829006)
            Nothing CMS or Atlas have said so far seems anything other than appropriately cautious and skeptical language. They're sharing some tantalising glimpses of something that may turn out to be nothing. All seems fair enough to me.
      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        They didn't say they found the Higgs and acknowledged there wasn't enough data for it to be conclusive. However at the reaction rates at the LHC they should have enough data within months to confirm -- one way or another -- whether the Higgs exists. Some of the first data in that set shows events in the right range. Tantalizing, exciting, and thus newsworthy, but not a conclusion. This is what the article says, and it's all correct.

        So I'm questioning your questioning of the Nature editors and this "igno

        • Well I'm questioning your questioning of his questioning!

          I can't help myself, I'm a Lisp programmer and this level of nesting is compulsory for me.

          • Well, I'm questioning all of the questionable questioning -- without nesting or overflowing a stack!

            quest_t questions = initialQuestion();
            do { questions = question( questions ); }
            while ( questionable( questions ) );

            I can't help it, I'm a C programmer who never uses recursion or nesting where simple iteration will do.

            • by JamesP (688957)

              Pathetic

              Functional programmers can poke into the infinite without the need of such earthly constructs as loops.

              But of course they need the C programmers to make their programs run in real hardware =P

        • They didn't say they found the Higgs and acknowledged there wasn't enough data for it to be conclusive.

          True but only after the headline claiming "tantalizing evidence" (which is wrong - we have no evidence yet) and hyping the whole thing up to be way more than the "no clear evidence" result. Hence the article is dishonest and unscientific in that it gives a false impression to attract the reader and only when they get to the small print does it actually admit that there is no evidence yet. Frankly when the mainstream media, like the BBC, write an article with a far better explanation of what the results mea

          • by Chris Burke (6130)

            True but only after the headline claiming "tantalizing evidence" (which is wrong - we have no evidence yet)

            Nonsense! The data they've collected already is evidence! It's just not sufficient evidence to satisfy the agreed-upon heuristic standard for drawing a positive conclusion. Evidence that doesn't meet that standard is still evidence. If and when they do have enough evidence to meet the standard, that won't change the findings in the article from not-evidence to evidence. It's evidence today! Just not enough. We want our evidence to be exceedingly unlikely to have been simply random chance, whereas the

      • by bcrowell (177657)

        We also have not found the Higgs yet there is not enough data to distinguish this from a fluctuation in the background.

        Right. The Nature article has no quantitative description of the statistics, but this blog [profmattstrassler.com] does. Note the stuff about the "look elsewhere effect." To understand what this means, imagine that you have a histogram with, say, a thousand channels in it, and let's imagine the null hypothesis, which is that in truth the histogram has nothing in it but a smoothly varying background, no peaks. But there is noise, and statistically a one-in-a-thousand fluctuation is about 3 standard deviations. That means that out

  • Uh Huh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:00PM (#36850726) Journal

    I'll hold my breath on this one. We've been fed the "we think we've seen Higgs" enough times now that until some repeatable data comes down the line, I'm just going to assume its screwy instrumentation or glitches.

    • by Flyerman (1728812)

      This is actually a feature of the VP of PR's calendar. It has informed him that it's time to make some more noise and let everyone know that the LHC is still there.

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        he timed the press release to be after greek debt re-arrangements, quite suitably.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        That works until you make too much noise and nobody can distinguish them apart, or care to anymore.

    • Re:Uh Huh (Score:5, Informative)

      by The_Wilschon (782534) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:10PM (#36850888) Homepage
      Nobody who is a scientist (except possibly for inflammatory gossip addicts like Dorigo) is claiming anything remotely resembling a discovery. Nature is, in my opinion, highly irresponsible for posting things like this, precisely because it leads to reactions like yours. It isn't screwy instrumentation or glitches, it isn't a discovery, it isn't an exclusion, it isn't a bird or a plane or superman, it's just a result that is not yet conclusive.
      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        It isn't screwy instrumentation or glitches, it isn't a discovery, it isn't an exclusion, it isn't a bird or a plane or superman, it's just a result that is not yet conclusive.

        Yes, which is exactly what Nature is reporting. They aren't reporting a result, they're reporting the news that a signal has been seen that fits in the Higgs range. If in the coming months they see more of the same enough to rule out random chance, then what they're reporting today will be in the set of data via which we found the Higgs.

        This is news for anyone interested in the search -- in as much as people are interested in the progress of science, not just its conclusions. This isn't conclusive, but i

      • Collider sees tantalizing hint of Higgs

        TANTALIZING: mockingly or teasingly out of reach
        hint: a slight indication of the existence, approach, or nature of something.

        I don't think Nature was that irresponsible, their wording was well chosen; but I hope they haven't found Higgs yet, that would be like finding out that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42

        • it isn't?

          BTW: I do support M theory as an idea but would like the theory of everything to be a bit more elegant ie: creating an infinite regression or scaling loop... So I'm quite happy that this was just a false alarm

    • so... if you will hold your breath, then you believe there is credible evidence that this could be an initial discovery that leads to the Higgs... right? Otherwise you are just a moron who does not know his/her idioms.

    • I'll hold my breath on this one. We've been fed the "we think we've seen Higgs" enough times now that until some repeatable data comes down the line, I'm just going to assume its screwy instrumentation or glitches.

      I agree, until we have solid evidence I think these "Maybe we saw the Higgs Boson!" stories are a needless wasting many of Laming's & Stoney's electrons.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm not interested until I can buy Higgs Bosons with my Bitcoins.

  • by mtinsley (1283400) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:06PM (#36850820) Homepage

    it also unifies the electromagnetic and electroweak forces

    Doesn't electroweak already encompass electromagnetic? Should that be 'unifies the electromagnetic and weak forces'?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mswhippingboy (754599)
      I believe you are correct. Electroweak IS the unified description of the electromagnetic and weak forces.
      • by Chris Burke (6130)

        Yeah, but then you re-unify them and you get the electromagnoelectroweak force.

        • by dmartin (235398)

          The electromagnetic and weak forces are combined into the electroweak force, but the theory predicts that in order to combine them (and be compatible with experiments) that you have to have an extra particle or particles to break the electroweak symmetry. That is the role of the Higgs. So our current theory of an electroweak description is accurate assuming that the Higgs or something that plays its role exists.

          If there was no Higgs (or replacement) then we have a theory that still works phenomologically, b

          • by zevans (101778)

            "or something that plays the Higgs role" - which doesn't need to be a particle, necessarily. It could emerge from the dynamics, like Cooper pairs in superconductivity.

        • by JamesP (688957)

          So, the final unification force of the universe is the gravitoelectroweakmagneticstrong force!

    • by Urkki (668283)

      Doesn't electroweak already encompass electromagnetic? Should that be 'unifies the electromagnetic and weak forces'?

      Electroweak breed is getting a bit too weak, with a few nasty hereditary diseases. They hope to strengthen the breed by adding more electromagnetism to it.

    • by jfengel (409917)

      That's right. The Higgs is necessary to explain how the electroweak carriers W and Z have mass. It also applies to strong forces (i.e. it also interacts with quarks), but it pops first out of electroweak theory.

  • If we've never found it? I'm sure the theory is provable, but this is wayyyy too premature to care.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It has to be a spin-0, charge-0, parity-even, weakly-interacting particle with 115 GeV <= mass <= 180 GeV (to agree with already known electroweak constraints from Fermilab and LEP). So if you find a resonance in a collision channel with those quantum numbers and interactions, then you might suspect you've seen a sign of the standard model Higgs.

      • by rubycodez (864176)
        Don't forget the known lifetime and decay branching ratios. Could say everything is known about Higgs except mass if standard model correct, and mass must be in certain range, perhaps a little larger than what you gave (say less than 20 GeV more at each end)
  • I've seen the Higgs.
    He's a little old bald Englishman.

  • So, when we do find the Higgs (if we do) will we be able to start taking advantage of the Mass Eeffect? If not, what's to be gained from the discovery?
    • by Dunbal (464142) *
      The same thing we've gained from all those other particle discoveries - a request for more funding and a promise that fusion is just 20 years away.
      • Don't you see; fusion or more specifically cold fusion is just a red haring used by the science community to get the people with the money to invest it in projects.
      • by modmans2ndcoming (929661) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:31PM (#36852784)

        considering the national ignition facility has achieved fusion using laser beams and deuterium pellets and has been moving toward net positive energy rates that indicate they will reach ignition with in the next year save for mechanical malfunctions, I would say, we have fusion.

        • by m50d (797211)
          Sounds more like "we will have fusion in the next year save for mechanical malfunctions" to me.
          • Fusion is a specific nuclear reaction... they have achieved that already... they are going to break even shortly on the energy consumption/production ratio and soon after that, they will have a usable surplus of energy.

            • by m50d (797211)

              Fusion is a specific nuclear reaction... they have achieved that already...

              Sure, but we'd achieved that back in 1970. When we talk about fusion being 20 years away, we're talking about useful energy from it.

    • by jfengel (409917) on Friday July 22, 2011 @04:32PM (#36851192) Homepage Journal

      Seeing its existence is an important confirmation of the Standard Model. In that sense, nothing happens when you find it, since we've been using the Standard Model for decades. It's not like we waited to confirm the whole thing before making predictions with it.

      It would mean that we could STOP doing other things, i.e. looking at some alternatives to the Standard Model that don't incorporate the Higgs. (Or rather, incorporate different variations of the Higgs, including multiple Higgses.)

      Once you find it, you can work on narrowing down its mass, which is something the Standard Model doesn't predict. Once you know that, you can start producing Higgs and see how it interacts with other particles. Again, when it confirms what you already suspect, it closes off some avenues of alternative research. Even better, when you find something unexpected, you start looking down that route.

      • by steelfood (895457)

        What'd be more exciting is if they couldn't find it. Then there'd be something worthwhile to talk about.

    • You get confirmation of the Standard Model, and more basic research, whose dividends you probably cannot perceive ahead of time. Unless, of course, you're one of those fucktards who actually believes basic research is useless.

    • by Chris Burke (6130)

      If not, what's to be gained from the discovery?

      As far as practical applications, nobody knows what it could mean. It could be 100 years before your grandkids are using a device every day that depends on what we learned about the Higgs, without even knowing or caring that this is so.

      For instance, nobody working on Quantum Mechanics early last century would have had any clue whatsoever that this would enable the computer revolution. But without that basic research, there wouldn't be a computer on your desk right now.

      • "For instance, nobody working on Quantum Mechanics early last century would have had any clue whatsoever that this would enable the computer revolution."

        Most of the applications of quantum mechanics were quite evident at the moment the theory was created. Specificaly computers were already available for a long time when solid state physics came out, and they were one of the obvious applications of the transistor, that was one of the obvious application of the theory (that is, of course, after the theory wa

        • by Chris Burke (6130)

          Yeah, by the time the transistor was invented the application was obvious. That was in the late 1940s. The people laying the groundwork and doing basic research in Quantum Mechanics in the 1900s and 1910s had no clue that their research would lead to the transistor's invention.

          Today, we have no idea if in fifty years someone will invent a "Higgsistor", if it's possible or what it would do, and what it could be used for. Probably whoever actually invents it will know these things.

          And then someone will say

  • Greetings from the LHC!
    At this point in time, with the amount of data that we have, the answer is: "perhaps, perhaps not". There is not enough evidence to cut it either way.

  • I read this in Morgan Freeman's voice.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Damn those researchers--I just got my hands on "A Dance with Dragons" and they are already reading "A Hint of Higgs!"

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