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Science

Higgs Range Narrowed; Hunt Enters Final Stage 80

Posted by timothy
from the next-is-the-challenging-stage dept.
gbrumfiel writes "For forty years, the Higgs boson has remained a theoretical construct, but by Christmas, scientists may have a pretty good idea of whether it's real or not. Nature News reports that a new analysis has further narrowed the Higgs range, and data gathered this autumn at the LHC should be enough to show a faint signal from a Higgs, if it's there. (Already one signal has disappeared earlier in the year.) Physicists hope to finish their analysis of the autumn data by the year's end, but even if they come up empty-handed it won't be the end of the story. The Higgs is commonly referred to as the particle that endows others with mass, but its real appeal is the ability to unify the weak nuclear force with electromagnetism. If there is no Higgs, some other mechanism for creating a unified 'electroweak' force should be found inside the LHC."
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Higgs Range Narrowed; Hunt Enters Final Stage

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @10:47AM (#38108648)

    I'm still in awe every time I see any pictures of the LHC.

  • by iggymanz (596061) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:18AM (#38108836)

    No, I predict we will find nothing, and have to invent a new standard model. That would be more fun and more interesting.

  • What is "real" ? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:50AM (#38109056)

    Serious question here: What does it mean to say that Higgs bosons are "real" ?

    Physicists often go out of their way to point out that theory is under-determined by data. If you have two theories that account for all our data, but one theory contains a Higgs bosons and the other theory does not, do we still say that Higgs bosons are "real"?

    Or, does saying they're "real" assume some standard model of physics as the context for the statement?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @11:59AM (#38109130)

    Real in this case means independently measurable and not just a construct to compensate for the difference between the mathematical model and the data.
    If it is real the model works, if it isn't real the model only works in certain circumstances.
    The end goal is to find a model that can explain the universe without dark matter made out of handwaveium and explains why neutrinos shows up too early and stuff like that.
    When the model works without footnotes that says "Only applies to macroscopic numbers" and stuff like that then whatever it descirbes can be called "real enough"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 19, 2011 @02:00PM (#38109968)

    No. They said "hmmmm this could be explained by real thing with the following properties...". Followed by "let's see if we can find such a thing".

    The point of these experiments is precisely to find out whether it's real because so far nobody knows for sure. it's looking more and more likely that the answer is "no".

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

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