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CERN Announcing New LHC Results July 4th 226

An anonymous reader writes "The Higgs boson is regarded as the key to understanding the universe. Physicists say its job is to give the particles that make up atoms their mass. Without this mass, these particles would zip though the cosmos at the speed of light, unable to bind together to form the atoms that make up everything in the universe, from planets to people. From the article: 'Five leading theoretical physicists have been invited to the event on Wednesday - sparking speculation that the particle has been discovered. Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider are expected to say they are 99.99 per cent certain it has been found - which is known as 'four sigma' level. Peter Higgs, the Edinburgh University emeritus professor of physics that the particle is named after, is among those who have been called to the press conference in Switzerland."
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CERN Announcing New LHC Results July 4th

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  • by daveashcroft ( 321122 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:20AM (#40516935)

    ...but it doesn't carry any weight anymore.

  • Heavy! (Score:5, Funny)

    by ruiner13 ( 527499 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:24AM (#40516963) Homepage
    Marty McFly: Whoa. This is heavy.
    Dr. Emmett Brown: There's that word again. "Heavy." Why are things so heavy in the future? Is there a problem with the Earth's gravitational pull?
  • by StripedCow ( 776465 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:24AM (#40516965)

    Does it have round corners?

    • by martas ( 1439879 )
      So now we know how the universe ends: in a patent infringement lawsuit between Apple v. God.
  • by PTBarnum ( 233319 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:25AM (#40516975)

    If we prove that the God Particle exists, will it vanish in a puff of logic?

  • by rcasha2 ( 1157863 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:27AM (#40516985)

    ...and why is everyone trying to get a peek at her bosom? :)

    • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:47AM (#40517121)

      ...and why is everyone trying to get a peek at her bosom? :)

      Wrong end. You're thinking of mesons, specifically one made out of two "top" quarks. They follow the anti-heisenberg uncertainty principle where the better you can see their position, perhaps because they're unconfined, then the better you can see the effects on them of momentum and vibration/oscillation. I like high energy/high mass mesons like that, but Higgs is not a meson so it's all rather irrelevant.

      Higgs particle, speaking to husband: "Honey, does this Large Hadron Collider make my butt look fat?" They would have been more likely to get a peek if they told her it was the "Petite Hadron Collider", or if they told her there was a shoe sale there.

  • Saying a particle has a "job" sounds an awful lot like intended purpose, which means design... So, which physicists says this again?
    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      Saying a particle has a "job"

      We have jobs and we post on /.

      The Higgs particle has a job, therefore it must post on /.

      So fess up, which of you guys is the Higgs particle? There's probably a tubgirl joke in here somewheres

      • its me :D yes, higgs is my real last name.
    • by TapeCutter ( 624760 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:44AM (#40517097) Journal
      Lots of physicists talk like that, it's not a religious statement it's a common was to express ideas. Similar thing in IT, people talk about programs wanting/thinking this or that but nobody actually believes the code "wants" or "thinks" anything.
      • Lots of physicists talk like that, it's not a religious statement it's a common was to express ideas.

        Biologists can be even worse sometimes - they'll make casual reference to evolution "designing" a particular adaptation. The urge to anthropomorphize natural processes is apparently very strong, even among people who are trained to look for rational and non-supernatural explanations. But I have to admit I wince every time I read something like that.

        • It's not just the urge to anthromorphise, it's that there are a lack of useful words to describe it otherwise. You can avoid anthropomorphised words, but the result is usually longer and other scientists (the intended audience) understand just fine.

        • The urge to anthropomorphize natural processes is apparently very strong

          That mind contains different information processing centres that (surprise) process information in specialised ways. There is a module that sees everything as sentient, finding sentient causes and effects, and making predictions based on a model of personality. This module can be applied to /anything/, which is very cool if you think about it from a programming point of view. Since all the modules are always online (baring brain damage), you will see a person, and simultaneously model their personality and

        • by martas ( 1439879 )
          I really don't understand the problem some people have with anthropomorphizing things like that. What, are you afraid some creationist will overhear you or something? We all know what he meant, and that's the purpose of language.
  • by davidbrit2 ( 775091 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:33AM (#40517031) Homepage
    Yo mamma's so fat, CERN used her to find the Higgs-Boson with four-sigma certainty.
  • by peter303 ( 12292 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:35AM (#40517039)
    During a run they record billions of collisions and terabytes a day. Even so that is just a tiny fraction of so-called "interesting collisions"; most routine data goes unrecorded. Over the months they have recorded trillions of collisions, each which represents the state of several thousand detectors. Then they search for Higgs decay candidates off-line. There are several potential decay patterns, so the search may be done multiple times. Last year's "hint" of the Higgs was 3-5 anomalous events at a likely energy at two colliders. They'd like at least a dozen, for 4 to 5 standard deviations above the noise before they call it a new particle. This is searching for one significant event on average out of each trillion recorded.
    • by jovius ( 974690 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:02AM (#40517257)

      I wonder how many and what particles have been released by the high energy collisions happening in the universe since the big bang... Could there exist a significant field of some exotic particles just because of random head on collisions of cosmic rays in space?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:35AM (#40517569)

        Almost certainly.

        This is one of the arguments that had to be deployed against some bozos who warned against starting up the LHC on the grounds that it might create a subminiature black hole.

        We already see cosmic rays at higher energies than the LHC can reach. We just can't study their effects at will. However, it's clear that they either haven't created any black holes, or any such black holes are too small to accrete any nearby matter, and have fallen to the center of the Earth where they don't hurt anything.

        • by dotancohen ( 1015143 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:44AM (#40517649) Homepage

          ... and have fallen to the center of the Earth where they don't hurt anything.

          Fallen? And what do you thing happens when they get there with some velocity?

          Such black holes almost certainly exist, not only in the Earth but in all other large bodies as well. But they aren't "fallen" in the center, but rather orbiting the body inside of it, possibly eating a few atoms on each orbit. In any case I wouldn't call that "harmless" but rather "mostly harmless". I wouldn't mind one passing through my fingernails, but I might be upset if it ate away at a bit of my brain.

          Maybe this explains memory loss... Scientists!

        • The other tree sub atomic forces are at least 10^38 times stronger. Atoms are mostly empty space. It would be very rare for the black hole to get close enough to another particle to absorb it, much less a cascade of particles that would really enlarge a black hole. And particle size black holes evaporate very quickly.
    • by martas ( 1439879 )
      I reallllly hope they have some good statisticians hanging around keeping an eye on things. Given how high-profile the whole thing is I'm almost certain they have a good analysis of any potential sources of a false positive before making an announcement, but... I actually know a statistics prof who collaborated with people at CERN and said that he got out of that because, well, it was a bit of a mess (though he wasn't involved with the Higgs experiment).
  • They're going to have a display of the excitation [] of the Higgs field above its ground state on a day when the U.S. will hold displays of excitation above its ground states across the country []. Perhaps in the future the day will be known as Higgsdependence Day?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Antipater ( 2053064 )
      Well, yeah. It's the particle that gives things mass. It's only fitting that they announce it during the celebration of the fattest nation on Earth.
  • So you don't know what the announcement is, but you're speculating anyway instead of waiting a couple of days. What is this, CNN? Enough with this. I want news for nerds and stuff that matters, not circlejerking 24/7!
  • Found him aboard the Frigate HMS Rigging [].
  • by jgtg32a ( 1173373 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:09AM (#40517329)
    Are there any alternative theories to higgs boson, what's the status of them?
  • by vinlud ( 230623 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:21AM (#40517453)

    A great blog to read about the ongoing research and in depth particle physics articles is Matt Strassler's website: []

  • by CMYKjunkie ( 1594319 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:31AM (#40517543)
    Since I am too lazy to RTFA and since some people here are surely smart in this field, can you answer this: is there a particle BEYOND the Higgs that will be looked for next? That is to say, "we" always think we have found the smallest particle/farthest object/oldest artifact/etc. but then we later realize there is something smaller/farther/older/heavier/etc. Can we expect that to happen here as well?
    • by na1led ( 1030470 )
      My guess is that the Universe is infinite in size, both small and large. When you reach limits beyond what we can detect, most physicists refer to it as - another dimension.
    • by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @12:06PM (#40517801) Journal

      nothing else. This is the last thing we need to discover then we're done and can get on with life.

    • Good question. The particles that will probably be searched for next are light supersymmetric particles. They have a very high energy scale however, so it will take a long time to build and consequently it will take a while to verify if susy is correct (especially because a lot of parameters can be tweaked to increase the mass of the new particles). These particles however, are not elements that form any of the particles in the standard model, they are simply additions.
    • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @01:44PM (#40518865) Homepage Journal

      Yes, there is. The Higgs completes the Standard Model, which covers a lot of stuff, but leaves a lot of crucial questions unanswered. It doesn't explain why we see a universe of matter and not antimatter; it doesn't explain why the mass of the particles are what they are; it doesn't explain the egregious discrepancy between observed vacuum energy and the theoretical one ("egregious" meaning "a factor of 10^120").

      There are models that do cover these things, and these models predict particles not currently observed. One of the most promising is called "supersymmetry", and the particles it predicts have names like "sleptons" and "squarks" and "neutralinos".

      There's a very, very faint hope that the LHC might find them, but it's probably not powerful enough even if they exist. So the first step isn't to start a new search, but to examine the Higgs more closely and see if we can narrow the hunt.

      There's also a search in a different direction, for the graviton, in an attempt to unify general relativity with the standard model. (The Standard Model takes special relativity into account, but not general relativity.) Those experiments are already underway, and sadly they're not turning up anything, which is a little discouraging. And worse, it's not the kind of null result that they can use to throw out the old model and begin on a new one, because they didn't expect to see much.

      Still, they soldier on. There's always more work to do. This is the end of one phase of physics, and the beginning of another.

    • by toQDuj ( 806112 )

      Wow, what an amazing "us too!" article. Basically, that press release says they could not see anything with any certainty, and they are waiting for the results of the LHC to say "oh yes, there it was all along!".

      Tevatron lost funding, SSC lost funding, you lose the results, science loses. Go talk to your politicians.

  • Pfft. Motorola had Six Sigma and that didn't stop them from tanking their profits...

  • They're going to announce that they didn't find a Higgs Boson where they expected it and that therefore nothing actually has mass. Hah, didn't see THAT coming, did you?!
  • If you spent ten billion, you better find it too.

Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!