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Why All the Higgs Hate? It's a 'Vanilla' Boson 205

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the not-a-special-snowflake dept.
astroengine writes "Decades of searching and a 7.5 billion Euro particle accelerator later, why is everyone so down on one of the biggest discoveries of the century? Well, as the evidence strengthens for a bona fide signal of a 'Standard Model' Higgs boson with a mass of 125 GeV, many scientists are disappointed that the discovery of an 'ordinary' — or 'vanilla' according to Caltech cosmologist Sean Carroll — Higgs removes any doubt for more exotic physics beyond the Standard Model. It's a strange juxtaposition; a profound discovery that's also an anticlimax. But to confirm the identity of the Higgs candidate, LHC physicists still need to measure the particle's spin. 'Until we can confidently tie down the particle's spin,' said CERN Research Director Sergio Bertolucci at this week's Rencontres de Moriond conference in Italy, 'the particle will remain Higgs-like. Only when we know that is has spin-zero will we be able to call it a Higgs.'"
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Why All the Higgs Hate? It's a 'Vanilla' Boson

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:24AM (#43129087)

    If everyone in history took your point of view, those countries would still be shitholes, but they'd be shitholes without electricity and penicillin and refrigeration and computers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:42AM (#43129159)

    This is pretty much the same sentiment expressed at the end of the 19th century. Considering we don't even know what the majority of the mass in the universe consists of - just something 'dark' - I think it's premature.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:48AM (#43129183) Homepage Journal

    Why are you on Slashdot tonight instead of working to help the infected Italians?

  • by tlambert (566799) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:48AM (#43129185)

    I disagree with your conclusions; it's very much like the statement that has been (erroneously) attributed to Charles Holland Duell: ""Everything that can be invented has been invented."

    The actual fact of the matter is that there are some string theorist who are deeply unhappy with the idea of a Higgs being discovered (the jury is technically still out, BTW, until the data analysis is more complete and more experiments run). The reason for this is that the mathematics involved in their theories make them falsifiable by the discovery of a Higgs.

    No physicist likes the idea that something they've been spending their life working on for the last 40 years might turn out to be nothing more than some nice mathematics with no relationship to actual reality. This generally doesn't bother mathematicians, but physicists are all about trying to describe objective reality, and they are unlikely to quietly say "You sank my battleship" and walk away from the game board.

    So there is some understandable pushback on the idea from people with a vested interest in there being no Higgs.

  • The problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by qbitslayer (2567421) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @01:19AM (#43129269)

    The problem with the Higgs discovery is that it does not explain anything new. Why? Because only failed predictions lead to new and exciting science.

  • by Visserau (2433592) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @01:28AM (#43129291)

    Not sure if you're serious or trolling (like the religious AC that responded to you definitely is) - see my post above (first post) for some of the reasons why you're ludicrously wrong. The discovery of the higgs/the process of it's confirmation is a key milestone that will allow us to begin to make inroads on the investigation of gravity. Certainly there is a long way to go, but this is a necessary step before we can even fully understand what the standard model might be saying about gravity.

    There are far more wasteful things to be spending money than fundamental science. (War being the most obvious example, although I'm not aware of the Euros being involved in much military activity recently.) Following your train of thought, we'd still be living in caves without the wheel or the ability to make fire ourselves. We can't say right now exactly what benefits the higgs boson specifically, and the extended thread of research in general will bring us - but history clearly demonstrates that theoretical research brings major quality of life improvements in the long run.

    I would argue that dollar for dollar, research brings more long term benefit to society than welfare. Welfare can only address short term problems, and is LITERALLY just throwing money at the problem/down the drain. At least with infastructure, once it's built, the upkeep costs aren't quite as high. There needs to be a healthy balance of both, to address issues on both short and long timescales. Cutting one for the other is short sigted.

    Finally, the LHC was built long before the financial chrisis came about. All the money was already spent. At best, only upgrade money could be diverted to help the troubled countries even if they wanted to (and I've discussed why that's a bad idea.) Note that the EU has thrown plenty of bailout money at them anyway, whilst still funding CERN.

    "The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world's largest and highest-energy particle accelerator, and "one of the great engineering milestones of mankind".[1] It was built by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) from 1998 to 2008, with the aim of allowing physicists to test the predictions of different theories of particle physics and high-energy physics, ..." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider [wikipedia.org]

  • by elysiuan (762931) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @02:05AM (#43129349) Homepage

    This is a strange statement to make when the Standard Model is known to be incomplete since it does not factor in gravity. It clearly is not the final theory if any such thing can exist. I guess it may not meet your criteria for 'exotic' but to say physics is done is comically short sighted.

  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @02:33AM (#43129403) Journal

    Science of the 21st century will be less about discovering what we can do and more about what we can't. We'll find that that there aren't any radical exotic physics left to discover...

    Dark Matter: makes up ~23% of the mass of the universe and we have no clue what it's fundamental nature is. Then there is Dark energy which makes up ~73% and is accelerating the expansion of the universe. So given that practically all science to date has been regarding 4% of the universe and there is 96% of if out there (that we know of so far) with a nature we simply do not yet understand I can tell you that we know for 100% certainty that there is some "radical, exotic physics" left to discover. What I cannot tell you is its nature nor whether we'll discover it in the 21st century but we know it's there. Even if you don't yet believe in Dark Matter the largely discredited alternative theories to explain the observations involve corrections to Newtonian dynamics and/or gravity which is even more "radical and exotic".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 10, 2013 @03:40AM (#43129537)

    Science isn't perfect, it's just a whole lot better than all the alternatives. Some push-back on a discovery is perfectly fine as long as things eventually settle down in a closer approximation to reality. Are you saying that won't happen here? That's not what the OP was implying.

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