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Precise W Boson Mass Measurement Helps Lead the Way To the Higgs Boson 82

Posted by Soulskill
from the over-the-river-and-through-the-woods dept.
New submitter SchrodingerZ writes "'The world's most precise measurement of the mass of the W Boson, one of nature's elementary particles, has been achieved by scientists from the CDF and DZero collaborations at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.' This new number (80387 +- 17 MeV/c^2) puts more constraint on the mass of the theorized Higgs Boson, which is theorized to give mass to all other things, supporting the standard model. 'Scientists employ two techniques to find the hiding place of the Higgs particle: the direct production of Higgs particles and precision measurements of other particles and forces that could be influenced by the existence of a Higgs particle.'"
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Precise W Boson Mass Measurement Helps Lead the Way To the Higgs Boson

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  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Monday March 05, 2012 @04:56PM (#39253443)
    ....routinely measure such esoteric things, but still can't devise a test to determine my girlfriends mood?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2012 @05:07PM (#39253613)
      We can either determine her mood or determine that she is your girlfriend, not both.
    • by _merlin (160982)

      You really just need a calendar for that, unless she's irregular.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2012 @05:10PM (#39253641)

      Because people are much more complex than particle physics. Why that might seems strange, physicists are so very successful in part because the phenomena they seek to explain are the simplest possible, i.e. the fundaments of reality.

      Not that it's easy, no. But very much easier, or at least possible, than mathematically model, in any degree, a person.

      We cannot really even measure the mass of person to the degree of precision we can measure particles. Much in the same sense that measuring the shoreline of Norway is non-trivial if we want mm precision.

      • +1 informative/insightful

        this is a basic difference between the physical sciences and the social sciences

    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      She's a woman? OK, advanced scientific instruments have determined that her current mood is:

      BITCHY

      That wasn't so hard now, was it? Also, while this may look like a comment, it's actually an advanced Web 3.0 application. Any time you want to know your girlfriends mood, just refer back to this post, as it will continually update as her mood changes.

    • A better question is when did Pierce Brosnan become a physicist?

      I guess we know why he turned James Bond down.

      • by slew (2918)

        A better question is when did Pierce Brosnan become a physicist?

        I guess we know why he turned James Bond down.

        Pierce Brosnan became a physicist in The World is not Enough... Of course the better questions are why did he quit doing that physicist gig to go sing ABBA songs and how in the hell did Denise Richards become a physicist?

    • by pinfall (2430412)
      I thought the title read Pierce Brosnan Male Measurements
    • First off, she has to be real.

    • The better question is what is Science's answer for why women who live in the same house have their periods synchronized ?

  • 80387? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So each W Bozon is a math coprocessor in and of itself?

    Imagine a beowulf cluster...

    • by hal2814 (725639)
      Is it SX or DX? The post isn't explicit on that point.
      • You don't add a 80387 to a DX processor. You must be confusing it witha a 80386.

        But it is ok, everybody is confused. Take a look at the error margin.

        • by hal2814 (725639)
          There were two 80387s. The 80387DX (originally just called the 80387) which was designed to work with the 80386DX (originally just called the 80386) and the 80387SX designed to work with the 16-bit data bus of the 80386SX. You could tell them apart because the 80387SX had edge-connector pins while the 80387DX had pins on the bottom. Maybe you are confusing this with the 486DX (which had an integrated math-coprocessor) vs. the 486SX (which had no integrated math-coprocessor)? But I can assure you that bo
  • by crt (44106) on Monday March 05, 2012 @05:00PM (#39253515)

    If all other things get their mass from the Higgs Boson, where does the Higgs boson get its mass from?

    • by ch-chuck (9622) on Monday March 05, 2012 @05:05PM (#39253577) Homepage

      It's Higgs Boson's all the way down.

    • by xlsior (524145)
      It's turtles, all the way down.
    • by rfioren (648635)
      From Boson Massachusetts?
    • by elfprince13 (1521333) on Monday March 05, 2012 @05:30PM (#39253893) Homepage
      The Higgs Mechanism is thought to give particles mass, and the Higgs boson is the particle that we anticipate to be the carrier particle for the Higgs field. Your question is a little bit like asking "if all other things get their light from photons, where do the photons get their light from?", which is to say, it reveals a bit of a misunderstanding about what's actually going on. That's okay though, because hardly anyone bothers to explain these things.
      • by BitterOak (537666) on Monday March 05, 2012 @05:54PM (#39254247)

        The Higgs Mechanism is thought to give particles mass, and the Higgs boson is the particle that we anticipate to be the carrier particle for the Higgs field. Your question is a little bit like asking "if all other things get their light from photons, where do the photons get their light from?", which is to say, it reveals a bit of a misunderstanding about what's actually going on. That's okay though, because hardly anyone bothers to explain these things.

        No, that's not a good analogy, because Higgs particles do indeed have a mass of their own, while photons don't tan. Higgs particles can interact with themselves, and that's why they can have a mass while also giving other particles their mass. A better photon analogy would be this: photons carry the electromagnetic force and so they can be said to give charged particles their charge. But photons don't self-interact, so photons themselves don't have charge.

      • by mikael (484)

        "Of course the universe is finite, where else do all the photons go?"

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is a misunderstanding and misexplanation. What happens is that "Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking" gives particles their mass. The vacuum lowest energy ) state of must obey the same symmetry. Usually this is not a problem because the symmetry maps the vacuum state into itself. However with gauge symmetries this is not generally the case. Instead there are a set of states which are all symmetric to the each other as a vacuum. For the dynamics to be determined uniquely a vacuum state must be chosen. The pro

        • I was trying to give the particle-physics short answer (carrier particles), rather than the gauge-theory long answer (symmetry groups), but thanks for the extra detail :)
    • They get their masses from the Higgs Field. The W Boson is like a ripple in the W-Field. An electron is like a ripple in the electron-field (not the electrical field). Et cetera. So a Higgs Boson is like a ripple in the Higgs Field. But it still gets is mass by interacting with that field, like most other elementary particles with mass. Here's a good article that explains that: If the Higgs field were zero [profmattstrassler.com].
      • Whoops. Allow me to correct my own post. Not all of the Higgs particle's mass is from the Higgs Field:

        In particular, as you can see in Figs. 3 and 7, the Higgs particle itself does not get all of its mass from the non-zero Higgs field — and the strength of its interaction with itself is not directly related to its mass. [There is a correlation, but not proportionality.] This is not unusual.

        I wonder how it gets the rest of its mass? That's a good question.

    • by jlechem (613317)
      IANATP but I enjoy reading about this stuff. Wikipedia has a semi decent article about it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_boson [wikipedia.org] Somehow these higgs bosons form a field that as other particles travel through it causes them slow down and have mass. Very layman answer and probably wrong but is how I see it from the wiki article.
    • A (relatively) readable Higgs explanation [quantumdiaries.org]
    • Sorry for all the responses. I asked Professor Strassler on his website. He replied that it's actually a mystery where the Higgs gets it's mass! It's a very good question. All the other standard model particles, except the neutrino, get their masses via interacting with the Higgs field. We don't really understand neutrinos very well, though.
  • by Powercntrl (458442) on Monday March 05, 2012 @05:03PM (#39253557)

    Slashdot should just automatically link Higgs Boson [xkcd.com] to this, every time.

    There's probably some truth to this, too. A particle accelerator is the ultimate geek toy.

  • Cupcakes (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2012 @05:05PM (#39253575)

    I find the best way to lure a Higgs Boson out of hiding is with cupcakes.

  • Wrong Summary (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 05, 2012 @05:22PM (#39253777)

    The Higgs boson is the result of symmetry breaking in the electroweak force. It, in itself, does not give mass to all other things. It is an indicator that allows the existence of the higgs field and mechanism to be inferred.

  • Fortunately the 80387 preceded the Pentium floating point bug, so they may actually be accurate.

    • by Mr Z (6791)
      Ok, so mine wasn't the only brain thinking "floating point particle accelerator" or something in that space...
  • The new number is +-15 MeV including the LEP measurements. +-17 is just the Tevatron.
  • by jimmerz28 (1928616) on Monday March 05, 2012 @05:40PM (#39254047)
    Everytime we keep getting articles about this I wonder how accurate LEXX was in saying how M class planets always end up destroying themselves when attempting to find the mass of the Higgs Boson.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      If something goes wrong, you'll see it here [cyriak.co.uk].
  • These twists and turns in deducing how to test physics for the existence of the Higgs Boson is going to make an interesting book when it's either proven or disproven.

    Who would you like to see write it?

    Who would you like to see star in the movie based on it?

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Monday March 05, 2012 @05:47PM (#39254167)

    The headline reads as if it were an announcement that the Higgs had been discovered, when all that's really happened is they've further constrained the possible range of masses the Higgs Boson could be if it exists at all.

  • by Cigarra (652458) on Monday March 05, 2012 @08:08PM (#39255729)
    Dilbert figured it out already [dilbert.com]
  • It's interesting that the Tevatron is still producing scientific results even though the particle accelerator was shutdown Sept 30 of 2011. And that's because there's still a massive quantity of undigested data from the experiments that stopped running at that time.

    If one reads about the LHC, one sees the same phenomenon. Which proposes that one of the things that could kick particle physics (and many other areas) forward the fastest is better software. Or maybe that's already obvious to everyone else?

    • by Mr Z (6791)

      Is it really the software, or is it proper formulations of hypotheses to test against the raw data? It's one thing to say "I'm looking for the XYZ particle." It's quite another to say "If an XYZ particle interacts with a ZYX particle in such-a-such way, it should result in ZZZ and XXX decaying in such-a-such pattern. Did we see that pattern?" Wash, rinse, repeat for all possible interactions and decay product patterns.

      I'm not a particle physicist, but my impression from the outside looking in is that th

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