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LHC Homes In On Possible Higgs Boson Around 126GeV 210

Posted by timothy
from the abundance-of-caution dept.
New submitter Ginger Unicorn writes "In a seminar held at CERN today, the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented the status of their searches for the Standard Model Higgs boson. Their results are based on the analysis of considerably more data than those presented at the summer conferences, sufficient to make significant progress in the search for the Higgs boson, but not enough to make any conclusive statement on the existence or non-existence of the elusive Higgs. The main conclusion is that the Standard Model Higgs boson, if it exists, is most likely to have a mass constrained to the range 116-130 GeV by the ATLAS experiment, and 115-127 GeV by CMS. Tantalising hints have been seen by both experiments in this mass region, but these are not yet strong enough to claim a discovery."
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LHC Homes In On Possible Higgs Boson Around 126GeV

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  • by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @12:23PM (#38356252) Homepage Journal

    The announcement today just narrows the mass. The /. summary is perfectly adequate, and is a complete summary of the situation!

    There is also a small point, about a candidate mass just under 127GeV, with less than 3 sigma. The /. title is talking about that, but doesn't clarify it. Of course, some information with less than 3 sigma can change any time.

  • Re:No they can't (Score:1, Insightful)

    by twotacocombo (1529393) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @12:25PM (#38356290)
    Science dictates that you cannot prove something doesn't exist; only that it does.
  • by Remus Shepherd (32833) <remus@panix.com> on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @12:34PM (#38356418) Homepage

    The fascinating thing about the energy they're talking about (125-126 GeV) is that it's too low. So low, in fact, that the equations predict vacuum instability at about that range. [vixra.org]

    What does vacuum instability mean? It means that vacuum might have a half-life, after which it decays into energy. This is a cool concept until you realize that the Universe is mostly made of vacuum. If the Universe were to spontaneously disintegrate, that would be Bad.

    Of course since that doesn't happen, there must be new physics that keeps everything from fizzling out. That means that if the Higgs boson is found at 126 GeV then we're not done searching. There will be new questions to answer and possibly a new particle, the Higgsino [wikipedia.org], to look for.

    Exciting stuff if you're a physics nerd. Or really for anyone who has a vested interest in the Universe continuing to exist.

  • by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @01:05PM (#38356792) Homepage Journal

    I don't understand why everybody seems to have a problem with vacuum instability. Ok, not with instability per se, but what is the problem with meta-stability? Wouldn't it explain inflation?

  • Re:No they can't (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rising Ape (1620461) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @01:40PM (#38357240)

    To take someone else's example, imagine the flying teapot in orbit some where in the solar system, you cannot disprove that it is there.

    If your teapot has certain properties (minimum size, interacts with electromagnetic radiation for example), you could scan the solar system with apparatus known to be sensitive enough to detect such an object. If, after scanning the entire solar system in this way, you find nothing, then you have proved that the teapot isn't there.

    Similarly, the Higgs has certain properties (otherwise it wouldn't be the Higgs), and we know that the LHC is ultimately sensitive enough to detect particles with those properties.

  • Re:No they can't (Score:5, Insightful)

    by StikyPad (445176) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @01:56PM (#38357482) Homepage

    You can't prove a negative.

    Sure you can. You can prove that a number is not even. "You can't prove a negative" is an oversimplification of the axiom that "absence of evidence" != "evidence of absence". But even that is not saying that there's no such thing as "evidence of absence." A properly designed experiment *can* provide evidence of absence just as reliably as a properly designed experiment can provide evidence of existence. What it cannot do is speak to conditions outside the scope of the experiment, but neither can any experiment. There is always a non-zero probability that any inference is wrong, which is why scientists speak in terms of confidence levels instead of absolutes. And even then, it's easy to make the mistake that a high degree of confidence is the same as an absolute truth, when it could be that an experiment was biased in a way that no one had noticed.

  • by dotancohen (1015143) on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @02:20PM (#38357876) Homepage

    If the Universe were to spontaneously disintegrate, that would be Bad.

    I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean "bad"?

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Tuesday December 13, 2011 @03:26PM (#38358994) Homepage Journal

    If the Universe were to spontaneously disintegrate, that would be Bad.

    No, I don't think anyone would complain. You have to die from something, the universe spontaneously ceasing to exist probably wouldn't be a bad way to go considering the alternatives (fire, drowning, cancer...)

    Or really for anyone who has a vested interest in the Universe continuing to exist.

    From my perspective it's only existed for 59 years and its destruction is always and has always been imminent. The universe stops existing for people every single day. Nobody has a vested interest in the universe's existance; we're only visitors here. Nobody stays forever.

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