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

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 Myria ( 562655 ) on Saturday March 09, 2013 @11:20PM (#43129083)

    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, cementing the fact that Star Trek will never exist no matter how far technology never advances, for there is no way around c. We'll also be doomed to never having a good energy solution.

    That said, considerable advance in biomedicine and artificial intelligence will happen. Engineering and reverse engineering of the human body will continue to progress.

    The saying that "any sufficiently-advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" is probably false: technology obeys thermodynamics. We as humans need to discuss what we want to do once science can no longer progress, something I fear will become true for our grandchildren.

  • by Biff Stu ( 654099 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:10AM (#43129241)

    The disappointment in the high energy physics community is over what comes next. For many decades, high energy physicists have been building bigger and bigger colliders. Each collider has left some unanswered questions justifying the next giant collider. If the standard model seems to fit all the data and there's no clear question to be answered by the next collider, then what's next for high energy physics? All the "new physics," dark matter and dark energy, is coming from astrophysics these days, and they need telescopes, not colliders.

  • by Visserau ( 2433592 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:40AM (#43129315)

    There are still a ton of unanswered questions in the standard model. Later I'll take another look for the article I'm thinking of, which is a particle physicist discussing why this is the case. He partially agrees with what has been said ("the discovery is not that interesting") for an entirely different reason - because all the mysteries REMAIN! We just move a step closer to being able to properly reveal them.

  • by Goldsmith ( 561202 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @01:40AM (#43129411)

    I don't agree at all. The butt-hurt-ness is all about funding and relevance in modern physics.

    Given that this is a monolithic (minimal competition) field with not much on the horizon in terms of applications or fundamental discoveries, it is shocking and a little embarrassing that there is so much money and so many students in particle physics. Particle physicists did this by positing that the cosmologists, observational astronomers and theoreticians could be wrong about what the higgs was and/or what LHC could show us. More bluntly, there never was a compelling reason to fund and build the LHC unless you believed the particle physicists knew something amazing that none of the rest of us did. The marketing of the "God Particle" was exquisite and effective.

    Now that it looks like everyone else was right, the rest of us in physics are left scratching our heads wondering why we allowed particle physics to grab such a sizable chunk of the intellectual and financial "market share" of our field in the last 20 years. Would we have learned more focusing on cosmology, planetary science, power and energy issues, new materials, biophysics...? We trained A LOT of PhDs to build and operate LHC and there are a finite set of good students with a functionally infinite set of problems to work on.

  • by Roger W Moore ( 538166 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @02:08AM (#43129477) Journal
    I think you are getting a little confused which is not surprising given the site that you linked to! It's a very interesting site but it's talking about the special case where the minimum energy in the Higgs field corresponds to zero Higgs field which not at all the case in the Standard Model.

    The Higgs field does indeed give mass to the fundamental particles. It has a strange property that the lowest energy density of the field is NOT when the field is zero but rather when it has a non-zero value (so very different from a magnetic or electric field). This field is then what couples to particles and the coupling energy is what we see as mass - indeed at a fundamental level this is why mass and energy are the same thing. The Higgs boson is simply a quantized vibration of this field in the same way that a photon is a quantized vibration of the EM field.

    However, to get back to the original discussion point, I would argue that we are seeing exactly what we might expect to see were this a Supersymmetric Higgs rather than a Standard Model Higgs. If you scan the Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model phase space with a Higgs mass of 125 GeV then you'll find that most of it has the lightest Higgs looking just like a SM Higgs with only a few percent difference in some of the branching ratios. It will take a few years more data before we can measure things this accurately by which time, with the higher energies after the shutdown, we may have already found something new.
  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Sunday March 10, 2013 @12:39PM (#43131893)

    nonsense, the list of what is unanswered is long

      there are HUGE things on the horizon for fundamental discoveries in physics.

    nature and composition of dark matter
    is there a relationsip between gravity and strong / electroweak forces?
    can general relativety be combined with quantum theory?
    nature and source of cosmic inflation
    source of baryon asymmetry, more matter than antimatter

    and about a dozen more...

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