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Science

LHC To Narrow Search For Higgs Boson 99

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-it's-with-all-those-moon-rocks dept.
New submitter mraudigy sends this quote from Physorg: "CERN scientists say their data from two main experiments using CERN's $10-billion Large Hadron Collider under the Swiss-French border will be made public next Tuesday, but any firm discovery will have to wait until next year. They say the data helps narrow the region of the search because it excludes some of the higher energy ranges where the Higgs boson might be found, and shows some intriguing possibilities involving a small number of 'events' at the lower energy ranges."
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LHC To Narrow Search For Higgs Boson

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  • You know what, it's pretty damn cool.
    • Re:Physics (Score:5, Funny)

      by peragrin (659227) on Friday December 09, 2011 @05:27PM (#38319286)

      actually at the energies involved it is pretty damn hot.

      • by jd (1658)

        I dunno. An electronvolt is about 1.6 x 10^-19 J, which means a teraelectronvolt is still only 1.6 x 10^-7 J, which Wikipedia helpfully says is the kinetic energy of a flying mosquito (the bug kind, not the WW2 aircraft). The energy of a mosquito, distributed over the entire collision chamber, doesn't seem to be a lot.

        • But but but but...what if it is an effing MASSIVE ROOM-SIZED MOSQUITO?!

        • Re:Physics (Score:4, Informative)

          by ceoyoyo (59147) on Friday December 09, 2011 @06:27PM (#38320028)

          That's the kinetic energy of a flying mosquito per proton. The whole beam is supposed to have the kinetic energy of an aircraft carrier.

          But you're thinking heat. Temperature is different. According to the conversion on Wikipedia, 1 TeV is just over one thousand trillion degrees. That's pretty hot.

          • by Mick R (932337)

            The whole beam is supposed to have the kinetic energy of an aircraft carrier.

            So when can we expect this in a hand held, beam weapon form? Or should we just be welcoming our new mosquito overlords?

          • Ah, "one" thousand trillion degrees. Is that degrees Kelvin, Celsius or Fahrenheit?

            • Nobody uses Fahrenheit for scientific stuff. Kelvin doesn't have degrees. So it's Celsius, although the difference between Kelvin and Celsius is negligible OVER 9000!!!!

            • by ceoyoyo (59147)

              Take your pick. There's enough rounding in there that the difference between Kelvin and degrees C is irrelevant. True, it didn't strike me that anyone might think it was in Fahrenheit. Nor any of the other weird old temperature scales.

      • by RockDoctor (15477)

        actually at the energies involved it is pretty damn hot.

        The motion of the particles in the beam is mostly collimated, so doesn't count as thermal energy. To be considered "thermal" energy, it's the random motion of the particles about the object's centre of mass that is considered, not the net motion of the particles as a whole.

        Consider this thought experiment : prepare a couple of Dewar flasks, one filled with liquid helium at a couple of Kelvin, and the other containing liquid zinc at about 600K. Sittin

        • Nope they just travel through time a bit slower.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      Yes, but I think this announcement is that "we haven't found anything." The positive spin is that "this is exciting because now there are fewer places to look."
      • by Snotman (767894)

        Maybe we haven't identified all the places to look in our limited understanding of nature. So, sure we have axed a few "known" anthropomorphic places, but maybe we don't know WTF anyway. Socrates would say that we know nothing and this is really a search for nothing. For instance, what if the effect we attribute to a particle is responsible when hundreds of particles interact in aggregate? Maybe this is all being handled, but one particle to rule them all seems like it is an idea out of fantasy.

        • Re:Physics (Score:5, Insightful)

          by andre.david (1373517) on Friday December 09, 2011 @06:40PM (#38320168)

          For instance, what if the effect we attribute to a particle is responsible when hundreds of particles interact in aggregate? Maybe this is all being handled, but one particle to rule them all seems like it is an idea out of fantasy.

          We understand different things at different levels. And when we do not have some fundamental understanding, we build what we call effective theories. It may very well be that the Higgs boson is composed of other particles. Even if it is, this entity has a role in interactions, which is not diminished whether it is composite or fundamental.

          Take the atom. It was indivisible for a long long time. Then we figured out there was a nucleus, 99.9% empty space and electrons. Then the nucleus turned out to have protons and neutrons. And then it turned out that protons and neutrons are made of quarks and gluons.

          At each level, we can have a working tool that explains to a good level of accuracy what is happening at that level. Take the example of gravity: Newton's laws work for 99% of what we do. There is no need to go for Special or General Relativity until you really consider gravity in scales which are not human: galaxies, etc.

          So, no one is looking for a particle to rule them all. And no one is claiming that we have finally reached a final understanding of matter. Or energy.
          In fact, finding the Higgs boson predicted by the Standard Model would fill in a piece in the puzzle, but not finish all puzzles.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          You should look up what anthropomorphic means, or sometime try searching the web for "anthropomorphic fantasy" as you've used in other posts. You might be mixing up anthropocentric and anthropomorphic.

          And all the "Is it real?" stuff on a deeper level is outside the realm of science. If two descriptions are physically indistinguishable, science won't differentiate between them and picking one or the other is a matter of what is easier to work with or for pedagogical purposes. What scientists assume about

        • by XiaoMing (1574363)

          Maybe we haven't identified all the places to look in our limited understanding of nature. So, sure we have axed a few "known" anthropomorphic places, but maybe we don't know WTF anyway. Socrates would say that we know nothing and this is really a search for nothing. For instance, what if the effect we attribute to a particle is responsible when hundreds of particles interact in aggregate? Maybe this is all being handled, but one particle to rule them all seems like it is an idea out of fantasy.

          I'm sorry, but blindly applying the zeroth order concept of epistemology and then namedropping Socrates really doesn't give you the pass to blindly comment on something that you can't remotely grasp...

      • Re:Physics (Score:5, Interesting)

        by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay@nOSpAm.gmail.com> on Friday December 09, 2011 @05:53PM (#38319586) Homepage Journal

        Not finding the higgs may be the most exciting thing the LHC does. Finding it will be boring.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Well, yes.

          Finding the Higgs boson would confirm current models. Not finding it opens up for a possibility that the universe is even more interesting than previously thought.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          If they do find it, I will look for your post calling it "boring."
          • It is almost as boring as a huge discovery that shapes an entire area of knowledge can be. The only except is that we'll know the actual mass.

        • Re:Physics (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Greyfox (87712) on Friday December 09, 2011 @09:25PM (#38321832) Homepage Journal
          Yeah except then we'll have to re-design physics. That would be a huge pain in the ass! It mostly worked for us, except for that ONE THING those guys couldn't find. But nope, going to have to throw it all out and re-design it!
      • The positive spin is that "this is exciting because now there are fewer places to look."

        You call that spin? I call it scientific advance. Is there anything else you can do with science other than exclude hypothesis? Before the LHC, the Higgs boson could not exist below 114 (let me gloss over the units) nor between 150 to 170 or so.

        The last results from the LHC excluded it from 140 to more than 500. That means that any theory predicting a Higgs boson in that range just went out the window.

        Let's see what comes up on the 13th.

      • One of the first things we were taught in undergrad physics was that reporting negative results was a perfectly valid and valuable thing to do.
  • by residieu (577863) on Friday December 09, 2011 @05:20PM (#38319198)
    It's been awhile since I've checked. hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com [hasthelarg...rldyet.com] Looks like we're still safe.
    • by _0xd0ad (1974778)

      It's been awhile since I've checked.

      You haven't added the atom feed [hasthelarg...rldyet.com]?

    • by disccomp (1454521)
      Ha ha, Viewing the source code is even funnier: if (!(typeof worldHasEnded == "undefined")) { document.write("YUP."); } else { document.write("NOPE."); }
      • Ha ha, Viewing the source code is even funnier: if (!(typeof worldHasEnded == "undefined")) { document.write("YUP."); } else { document.write("NOPE."); }

        That code obviously isn't peer reviewed. Shouldn't it say if(!(typeof theWorld == "undefined")) ...? The variable worldHasEnded will require updating to indicate that it has ended, which will be impossible once it actually ends.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I'm sure some divine spaghetti entity will take care to flip the variable on the way out.

        • by disccomp (1454521)
          Dropping the double negative and adding while loop would be nice, but browsers appear to lockup when you loop continually. theWorld = 1; while(typeof theWorld != 'undefined') { document.getElementByID('main').innerHTML = 'NOPE'...
        • I'm glad I wasn't the only one who opened the page and immediately looked at the source. You missed the comment at the bottom of the source:

          <!-- if the lhc actually destroys the earth & this page isn't yet updated
          please email mike@frantic.org to receive a full refund -->
    • by Belial6 (794905) on Friday December 09, 2011 @09:00PM (#38321670)
      Your source is always going to be behind. A much better source is to just check the live feed fromt he LHC. http://www.lhc-live.com/ [lhc-live.com]
  • by peter303 (12292) on Friday December 09, 2011 @05:37PM (#38319414)
    I presume at the magic energy level you'll see an increase in particles detected. These would be decay particles of new particle created. Then these decay particles would have to be of the right kind that could decay from a Higgs, deduced by charge, energy, direction, lifetime ... They record trillions of candidate collisions which will have to be sifted for various hypotheses.

    I read recently they are still studying an energy bump in the final runs of the Tevatrron. Whether it really exists and possibly a new particle.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by andre.david (1373517)

      You are bang on.
      A Higgs boson in our detectors (disclaimer: I am one of the people searching for that darn thing in one of the LHC experiments) is borne out starting by saving the "right" combination of particles detected in a given collision. Then we see if the particles detected (leptons, photons, etc) in each event resemble what the Standard Model theory predicts. In most cases we need to accumulate a lot of collisions until we can say that there is something.

      It's a rare beast. Patience is needed and som

  • by PPH (736903) on Friday December 09, 2011 @05:43PM (#38319486)

    ... this means the TSA [slashdot.org] won't be finding any either if they have to turn down the energy on their X-ray scanners.

  • I think a survey should be taken if we really believe that a Higgs particle exists. What if a Higgs effect is made up of hundreds of particles that when considered in whole look like Higgs? Because our anthropomorphic models predict the particle does not mean we will find it in nature. Gravity is a similar concept, but very useful despite not knowing what gravity is.

    • by jd (1658)

      Been done [guardian.co.uk] and the consensus is that Nobel-winning physicists like ponies and limericks but not Higgs bosons.

    • by rasmusbr (2186518)

      I think a survey should be taken if we really believe that a Higgs particle exists.

      That's not how science works. Science is about collectively investigating different models in the quest for one that fits with experimental data. Ideally a single scientist with a better model ought to be able to overthrown the consensus of the global community. In practice that sort of thing often takes a long time. Einstein famously won his Nobel prize for his down to earth discoveries about the photoelectric effect, not for relativity, because back then a lot of the science community hadn't had time to a

    • Actually there are models that do that, and it would be called a "composite Higgs". If there's a composite Higgs I pay out less in my bet than if it's a single Higgs. It's still a Higgs though.

    • by jo_ham (604554)

      We don't "believe" a Higgs particle exists any more then we "believe" oxygen is a bi-radical molecule with two unpaired electrons that occupy a pair of orbitals...

      As scientists, we form theories and models to explain the observations we make and find the ones that fit. When we found that G = H -TS we didn't set it as immutable fact, merely that the equation has stood the test of time over many repeated experiments and observations of real world experiments.

      I say "I believe" in an imprecise manner - it's mer

  • Both CMS and ATLAS are seeing bumps in certain Higgs channels around 125 GeV. While the bumps aren't big enough to be press-release worthy (2-3 sigma), a lot of particle physicists think that this is it. There will be an announcement on Dec 13th, and from now on it'll just be a matter of waiting till the bumps are 5 sigma and we can say for sure sure.
  • The Dec 13th seminar (Score:3, Informative)

    by andre.david (1373517) on Friday December 09, 2011 @06:13PM (#38319838)

    Page where the Dec 13th talk material will appear:
    http://indico.cern.ch/conferenceDisplay.py?confId=164890 [indico.cern.ch]

  • They say the data helps narrow the region of the search because it excludes some of the higher energy ranges where the Higgs boson might be found

    "We haven't failed a thousands times. We've just found a thousand ways NOT to make a Higgs Boson"

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