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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 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 advid.net ( 595837 ) <slashdot.advid@net> on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:10AM (#40517343) Journal

    If we prove that the God Particle exists,[...]

    Do you mean the Goddamn Particle ? [wikipedia.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:13AM (#40517379)

    "pounds measure weight"

    I realize this is a cute 'correction' to establish your superiority, but it's wrong. The avoirdupois pound is defined in terms of the kilogram. cf. second page of http://physics.nist.gov/Pubs/SP447/app5.pdf

  • 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: http://profmattstrassler.com/2012/06/27/this-sites-background-articles-on-the-higgs/ [profmattstrassler.com]

  • 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 Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @12:25PM (#40517963)
    you have to understand how small the event horizon is on something like this. The chances of it hitting ANY atom in your brain is so low that it's more likely that the planet would get hit by a full sized black hole than one of these tiny ones. Not only can they pass through matter and not hit atoms, they can pass through atoms and not any of its constituent particles.
  • by liquidweaver ( 1988660 ) on Monday July 02, 2012 @12:33PM (#40518019)

    Wrong. Read the article s/he linked, it's pretty interesting.
    You and the quarter might be nuked before it hits the ground. Ridiculously small probabilites still subtract from the probability you stated of 1.

  • 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.

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