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Higgs Territory Continues To Shrink

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the hoggamus-higgamus dept.

Science 118

PhysicsDavid writes "Announced this morning by Fermilab, the possible territory for the Higgs boson has shrunk even further. Combined results from the CDF and DZero experiments at the Tevatron have ruled out the existence of the Higgs with a mass between 160 and 170 GeV/c^2 with 95% confidence. At 90% confidence the Higgs is ruled out between about 157 and 185 GeV/c^2. Here is Fermilab's press release. If the Higgs is to be found at the lighter end of the currently allowed range of 114 GeV/c^2 to 185 GeV/c^2, its detection will be harder than at the heavier end due to the kinds of signals that the Large Hadron Collider and the Tevatron will see. Some physicists think that a lighter Higgs will be easier to spot at the Tevatron as the background processes which obscure the faint signal are not as prevalent in those experiments."

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118 comments

Abomination. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27181851)

Why do the poor Higgs have to put up with their territory shrinking? Who is taking their territory? Terrorists?

- American

Re:Abomination. (0, Troll)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181901)

It's like a Yankee, his territory is his shrinking dick, so long, dollar, now the world invites you to payback time.

Unless you're willing to maim bush, madoff, cheney, rumsfeld, condy and the other assholes, you're against us.

Re:Abomination. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27182063)

It's hard to be afraid of someone who links to goatse LOL The legions of men with gaping anuses just aren't that... legion.

Re:Abomination. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27182163)

It's like a Yankee, his territory is his shrinking dick, so long, dollar, now the world invites you to payback time.

Unless you're willing to maim bush, madoff, cheney, rumsfeld, condy and the other assholes, you're against us.

Don't forget to maim Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Daschle, Geithner, Snowe, and the rest of the pork gang, too!

Re:Abomination. (1, Funny)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182187)

Is incoherent writing something that they teach in crazy-school, or is it an entry requirement?

Re:Abomination. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27182817)

Moderation suggestion: Use your off-topic moderation on the parent that changed the topic, not the people who reply on-topic to the parent.

To poster: Save your karma. Post anonymously next time.

Well there you go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27181855)

Bigger colliders are not always better

Re:Well there you go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27182655)

Perhaps they're compensating for something...

Re:Well there you go (0, Offtopic)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182981)

No, they just don't know that the Higgs boson is hidden in Saddam Hussein's wife's burqa.

Re:Well there you go (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189451)

Well, the LHC is a 17 mile compensation...

FIRST COMMENT (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27181857)

ROW ROW FIGHT THE POWAH!

Boring... (2, Informative)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181895)

The fact that this is all that's left of high energy physics says a lot. The worst possible outcome is that they actually find the thing.

Re:Boring... (3, Insightful)

Gerafix (1028986) | more than 5 years ago | (#27181973)

It isn't a fact at all in fact. I don't think we can say we know everything that is left to know about high energy physics except the big Higgs.

Re:Boring... (4, Insightful)

Hordeking (1237940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182193)

It isn't a fact at all in fact. I don't think we can say we know everything that is left to know about high energy physics except the big Higgs.

Nah, when they find H, they'll start looking for something else. That is, if they find H. There's no guarantee the model that predicts it is even correct. That's what experimental physics is all about. And usually the answer to your question is another question.

Re:Boring... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27182765)

You don't find the Higgs boson.
The Higgs boson finds you [abstrusegoose.com] .

Re:Boring... (2, Funny)

Metasquares (555685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182833)

Then they should have built the LHC in Soviet Russia.

Re:Boring... (2, Funny)

Doctor Jonas (896524) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183533)

Then, in the Soviet LHC, the Higgs Boson would find you?

Re:Boring... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27184665)

Yes. The subtle way the joke made its path toward your humor grand central part of your brain wasn't made any more enjoyable by your explanation of that exact same line. If anything, it made it repetitive, thus worse.

Re:Boring... (1)

Doctor Jonas (896524) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185813)

Are you so sure about that, dear AC? Given the uncertainity principle, the Higgs Boson wouldn't have a straight chance to find you so simply as you would expect. Thus, my question, because IANA quantum physicist and I don't know if it's true. So, it's a legit doubt, you see... Keep the humor, dear AC. ;)

Re:Boring... (0, Flamebait)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184301)

99.9% of the population answers all modern physics questions with a question: "What the hell are you talking about?"

Someone convince me all this is a worthwhile expense of resources and that it will do more than prove one professor is smarter than another professor. Because right now I'm seriously concerned that a LOT of time, brainpower, and natural resources are being invested in something that has no value other than knowledge.

(disclaimer: I love science and think it's hugely important and beneficial, but there are times I wonder if the lengths to which physicists go to answer their Next Big Question aren't excessive given all the other things their talents could be applied to)

Re:Boring... (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184557)

> Because right now I'm seriously concerned that a LOT of time, brainpower, and natural resources are being invested in something that has no value other than knowledge.

The good news is its not all that much time and effort. If there's one great thing about CERN it's the funding model.

Maury

Re:Boring... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27186351)

Fortunately *some* politicians tend to look beyond their terms and actually care about their nations. Hence they allow funding for people that the are smart enough to decide where the money is to be distributed.

That is why physicists don't go to laymen and ask for money.

Finally, you may know that the Internet was connected to universities due to precisely these things.

And for the clueless turds that just think science is a waste and would rather play their WoW? The answer is right here:

http://info.cern.ch/www20/

Without CERN, the HTTP browser you like so much probably would not have even existed. So I guess that return on investment is quite significant even BEFORE the real science was done.

How about NASA sending people to the Moon? Only possible through major R&D on miniaturizing the Apollo computers. But hey, the world market for computers is only a dozen or so (said IBM in 60s) so who needs miniaturization.

Re:Boring... (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186943)

What part of "I love science and think it's hugely important and beneficial" is so hard for people to understand?

I'm asking what the point and possible benefit is in THIS project. I, and the vast majority of the world with me, truly don't get it. Why the strawmen?

(and for whoever modded me troll: you're an idiot)

Re:Boring... (4, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188819)

How the hell are we supposed to know?

When electricity was discovered, did anybody imagine computers or even electric motors or light bulbs?

When Babbagge was working on his Difference Engine, did he talk about PCs or the Internet to his investors?

When Hero of Alexandria made his Aeropile in the 1st Century, it was just a toy that was used to open temple doors. Only a thousand years later the steam turbine was found to have practical uses.

Nobody probably expected CDs as an application for a laser. Back when one was made probably the best justification for laser research would have been spectroscopy and interferometry, applications that are obscure and hard to understand to normal people.

I imagine that the discovery will initially confirm or disprove some theories, but not have much practical application at first. But who knows if it'll lead to hovercars some years later, or turn out to be of interest only in specialized areas of physics research.

Re:Boring... (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189215)

Are you a moron?? Of course you're not, you're just trolling, but let's assume for a moment that you truly are stupid.

How does it matter that people don't understand what basic researchers do, you blithering twit? What matters is that basic researchers understand what they do, which helps them continuously go forward in their research. Then, some other researchers pick up what the basic research produced, and research something more practical to be done out of it, be it a transistor or how to produce energy from a new phenomenon.

Then, engineers pick up what these researchers produced, to make useful stuff out of them. Basic transistors get turned into electronic chips, a new source of energy turns into a new kind of power plant, and so on. Then more engineers pick up where their peers left off, electronic chips become calculators, computers, iPods, while they put that new source of energy all over the power grid, into submarines, space stations and even your car.

The rest of the story consist in people who improve, promote, sell all of things to you, and people at all levels who bring all sorts of innovations from all over the place so that you, dear user of the Internets and consumer of nuclear power (probably not but you get the point), can troll the tubes by spouting drivel about the irrelevance of basic research.

Re:Boring... (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184539)

> I don't think we can say we know everything that is left to know about high energy physics except the big Higgs.

No no, I think everyone would agree that we _don't_ know everything. The problem is that the Higgs is the only thing left that we can actually build an accelerator to see. So if we DO find it, then it's going to be the Standard Model for a VERY long time.

It's a much better outcome if we don't find the Higgs. In that case we need to start some serious soul searching.

Maury

Re:Boring... (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#27188233)

So if we DO find it, then it's going to be the Standard Model for a VERY long time.

At least until the planet finishes collapsing into a nugget of super-dense matter roughly the size of a pea.

Not boring! (5, Insightful)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182709)

The fact that this is all that's left of high energy physics says a lot.

The fact that you say this shows that you do not know a lot about high energy physics. Even if the Higgs does exist somewhere in the gap shown there is a huge problem trying to explain why it has such a small mass compared to the scale where gravity is important and the Standard Model has to break down. The chances of this occuring by pure chance are about the same as you winning the UK national lottery for about 5 weeks in a row - if you did that people would not be thinking 'wow you are incredibly lucky' they would be wondering how on earth you cheated the system. Similarly we need to figure out how the universe 'cheated' and made the Higgs mass so light.

There are also several other questions we need to solve: what is all the dark matter?, what is all the dark energy?, why is there no anti-matter in the Universe?, is the neutrino its own anti-particle?, how does quantum gravity work? etc. etc. You need to remember that so far all of science has been based on the 4% of the Universe made of atoms. 96% of the Universe is made of stuff we do not understand so thinking that the Higgs is all that is left is just crazy talk!

Re:Not boring! (2, Interesting)

deglr6328 (150198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183341)

Is it possible that the parameter space remaining to be excluded could still contain a supersymmetric higgs? There is a video showing Lisa Randall talking about the possibility of finding photinos at the Tevatron but could a SUSY higgs could be found first?

Re:Not boring! (4, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183865)

The GP would have been more accurate to say something more limited, like referring to "high-energy physics from the LHC" rather the just "high-energy physics." The painful truth is that the LHC may end up finding essentially nothing of interest. It's possible that Fermilab will discover the Higgs, and absolutely nothing else that's very exciting will ever be found using the general type of accelerator and detector technology represented by these systems.

It's unlikely that physics in general will ever become a a completely understood subject. However, certain subfields of physics do go extinct. A century ago, a Nobel prize was awarded in physics for the invention of a certain type of lighthouse, and many grad students were still doing their PhD theses on subjects like the motion of a certain type of top on an inclined plane. More recently, low-energy nuclear structure physics is an example of a field that is arguably just a corpse, because the techniques used to study it (such as arrays of HPGe gamma-ray detectors) have reached the point of diminishing returns. It's quite plausible that the same kind of stagnation will now happen in high-energy accelerator physics as currently practiced.

[...] we need to figure out how the universe 'cheated' and made the Higgs mass so light. [...] There are also several other questions we need to solve: what is all the dark matter?, what is all the dark energy?, why is there no anti-matter in the Universe?, is the neutrino its own anti-particle?, how does quantum gravity work? etc. etc. You need to remember that so far all of science has been based on the 4% of the Universe made of atoms. 96% of the Universe is made of stuff we do not understand so thinking that the Higgs is all that is left is just crazy talk!

There's a strong possibility that all of these questions will turn out to be ones that can't be answered by LHC-style accelerator experiments. Some of them almost certainly can't be. For instance, the LHC doesn't come anywhere near the Plank energy scale, so there's virtually no chance that it will give any insight into quantum gravity. Dark matter and dark energy probably aren't going to give up their mysteries to particle accelerator experiments, either; that's more likely to happen with astronomy or cosmic ray observations. The only thing that was really guaranteed to happen at LHC energies was that there had to be either a Higgs mechanism or some other, similar mechanism occurring in that energy range, because the standard model sans Higgs is provably not self-consistent in this energy range.

Re:Not boring! (1)

Spinalcold (955025) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184277)

Stuff like Dark Matter and Dark Energy is not going to be understood by just studying Astronomy. Fields this big are going to be understood in small steps through many vectors. We'll need more understanding in Cosmology, Particle Physics, Mathematics, maybe even things we beleive we understand like Thermodynamics. Phyics is a field that continually borrows from itself, understanding from one area leads to advances in another.

The LHC could find super symmetic particles, if it does find any then Mathematics and Cosmology can go forward with more data to try and understand Dark Matter. That's just one example of how the LHC can help advances in these huge fields.

Re:Not boring! (5, Interesting)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184773)

The GP would have been more accurate to say something more limited, like referring to "high-energy physics from the LHC"....It's possible that Fermilab will discover the Higgs

Not true. The Tevatron will not get to a 5 sigma discovery significance unless the LHC is delayed by several years more - the best they can hope for is 'evidence' of the Higgs, and event that is somewhat doubtful. However there are very good theoretical arguments that the LHC should be able to reach the Dark Matter scale as well as finding some evidence to explain the Higgs low mass. These are certainly not certainties but they are certainly well motivated possibilities.

There's a strong possibility that all of these questions will turn out to be ones that can't be answered by LHC-style accelerator experiments.....For instance, the LHC doesn't come anywhere near the Plank energy scale, so there's virtually no chance that it will give any insight into quantum gravity.

Sorry but you are also wrong here. There are extremely good arguments regarding thermal production of dark matter that suggest the particle cannot have more than ~1TeV mass unless it is not thermally produced. As such it is likely that we will produce it at the LHC and, if not the LHC, it could be produced in a higher energy accelerator since these recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang where the Dark Matter has to be produced (unless you believe a certain amount of Dark Matter was one of the starting conditions of the Big Bang).

Regarding the Planck scale you only think that it is unreachable because gravity is so weak. If there are extra dimensions of space then the Planck scale might only be a few TeV and then we can do quantum gravity at the LHC. Personally I find this far less likely than finding Dark Matter but it is certianly a possibility. Plus, while the neutrino questions need fixed target or underground experiments to answer these are still particle physics, and there is more to particle physics than the LHC!

The trap you seem to be falling into is that because there is no guarentee that something will be seen there is no chance of seeing it. While it is certainly true that there is no strong guarentee of seeing more than just the Higgs (or whatever else it might be) there are good theoretical motivations to expect to solve some of these other problems. You cannot say whether it is a strong or weak possibility because we do not know enough to assign any meaningful chance. All we can say is that there is a possibility and there is some good theoretical motivation for such a possibility based on reasonable assumptions. Sometimes those assumptions can of course be wrong...but not always in a 'bad' way.

Re:Not boring! (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185109)

The Tevatron will not get to a 5 sigma discovery significance unless the LHC is delayed by several years more

I didn't say 5 sigma, you did. Sure, 5 sigma is the gold standard. But suppose Fermilab finds the Higgs at the 2-sigma level, which is 98% confidence, and also measures the mass. Then say the LHC gets a 5-sigma peak, and their measurement of the mass agrees with the previous one by Fermilab. I think any reasonable observer would then have to agree that Fermilab had discovered the Higgs.

Regarding the Planck scale you only think that it is unreachable because gravity is so weak. If there are extra dimensions of space then the Planck scale might only be a few TeV and then we can do quantum gravity at the LHC. Personally I find this far less likely than finding Dark Matter but it is certianly a possibility. [...] You cannot say whether it is a strong or weak possibility because we do not know enough to assign any meaningful chance.

You seem to be contradicting yourself here. First you say "I find this far less likely," and then you say that such statements about likelihood are not meaningful.

Re:Not boring! (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189583)

Disclaimer - while I find this stuff quite fascinating I'm by no means an expert.

I've always wondered about whether dark matter could be explained by gravity leakage from other universes nearby in extra-dimensional space. If our universe started out in the vicinity of another universe and gravity could leak between them then you'd expect matter to clump up near concentrations of mass in the other universe. Galaxies in our universe might have been seeded by galaxies in other universes.

This could also explain stuff like the recent dark matter discoveries with the Bullet Cluster (the normal matter laged behind the dark matter due to electromagnetic interaction when the clusters collided). If one cluster was clumped around a mass in one universe, and the other cluster was clumped around a mass in a different universe, then the dark masses would just pass through each other since they were in different universes, but the matter in our own universe would interact. For all we know dark matter could be normal baryonic matter in a different universe.

Of course, this is all purely speculative. One nice thing about new high energy experiments is that it will at least add constraints to the crazy theories that can be cooked up...

I have a theory on the lack of antimatter. (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184035)

Charge and polarity of electromagnetic phenomena are a function of "spin" (quoted, because subatomic particles aren't actually "spinning" in the way most of us intuitively think of spin). The "primordial atom" (if we accept the assertions of Hubble's Big Bang theory) could have had its own "spin" which it imparted to all the daughter particles which were created during the "bang" which gave rise to our known Universe. Not too different from the explaination for why the cosmic background radiation appears to be more uniform than it should be. At one point (according to Hubble) our Universe was a single, miniscule (by our standards), tightly integrated whole with no real seperation from one end of the Universe to the other.

Then again, despite the lack of intense gamma radiation fronts (something you'd expect if there were pockets of antimatter naturally existing in our Universe), it's possible that we're wrong. If there are truly empty voids of space to prevent direct contact between them, the Universe could be half antimatter and we'd have no way to tell. The stuff looks just like ordinary matter until you touch it.

Re:I have a theory on the lack of antimatter. (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189597)

Of course, then you'd need to explain why the matter and antimatter were so non-uniformly distributed that you can have entire galaxies composed of one or the other but not both separated by huge voids of empty space.

However, you could very well be right - if you can imagine a mechanism that gives preference to one vs the other you could imagine that it might work differently in different enviornments.

Re:Not boring! (1)

DG (989) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184377)

Similarly we need to figure out how the universe 'cheated' and made the Higgs mass so light.

Because if it didn't, we wouldn't be here to observe it?

DG

Re:Not boring! (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185167)

> The fact that you say this shows that you do not know a lot about high energy physics

Pfft, try harder.

The only reason we're looking for the Higgs is because we can. We simply don't have any other HEP we can do. Every alternative theory so far needs energy levels at least an order or two of mag more than LHC to even approach usefulness, and that's simply not going to happen any time soon. Oh, we've tried, but we've failed. I still have a soft spot in my heart for the surfatron, but that's just because of the cool name. So all we're left with is the bastard stepchild of HEP, Higgs. And it's not like this is any secret, this malaise dates back to SSC when one of the big arguments for building it was to give PhDs something to do (I'm not kidding).

HEP is dead. There is another way, however, and it's well on it's already far more interesting. That's astronomy. Every time we turn on the newest telescope we immediately find something that's essentially impossible under current models. Fully formed galaxies 12+ billion years old? Hmmm. Long-range expansion that doesn't follow the Hubble constant? Hmmm. Galaxies that spin too fast and need undetectable mass? Hmmm. Galactic clusters need 10 times that to keep themselves together? Hmmm. The universe needs 10 times THAT to be flat? Uhhh, ok, this is getting nuts.

And what part of this can SM/Higgs explain? None of it. Not one bit. That's why it's much more interesting if LHC fails than if it succeeds. We've sunk ~6 billion into this hole in the ground (literally). Do you know how many super-telescopes you can buy with that? ALL OF THEM.

How many questions has HEP answered in the last 25 years that aren't internal to HEP? None. Meanwhile the rest of the sciences have been leaping over each other at speeds that make Moore's Law look slow. Did you hear about that high school competition that made E.Coli that smelled different at different stages of their development so you could tell where they were in their experiment just by taking a whiff? "Wintergreen... not ready yet" And HEP's done what in that time? Spend billions of dollars to answer questions they're already utterly convinced they know the answer to? Great!

I hope the search fails. It would be the most positive outcome possible.

Maury

Not Boring Theory of Super Relativity (0)

mmfiore (1499983) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184737)

We are a group that is challenging the the current paradigm in physics which is Quantum Mechanics and String Theory. There is a new Theory of Everything Breakthrough. It exposes the flaws in both Quantum Theory and String Theory. Please Help us set the physics community back on the right course and prove that Einstein was right! Visit our site The Theory of Super Relativity: Super Relativity [superrelativity.org]

Re:Not Boring Theory of Super Relativity (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186895)

Thanks, that was good for a laugh.

Serious discussions of the luminiferous aether [wikipedia.org] await any who click through that link.

Higgs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27182071)

Wow, those guys must be geeks.

Statistics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27182113)

What's up with those statistics? 95% confidence? Does that mean the Higgs could be there and we still will never find it, if we're too unlucky?

Re:Statistics (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182901)

What's up with those statistics? 95% confidence? Does that mean the Higgs could be there and we still will never find it, if we're too unlucky?

The moment statistics get involved, yes. Take a heads or tails game with a coin. How many throws would you have to make to be certain to make a heads at least once? Inifinite - the only thing you can say is things like "With 99,9% confidence I'll get a heads in 10 throws". How many tails throws would you have to make to be certain to never make a heads? Likewise infinite.

Of course we're not going to stop doing high-particle physics so the confidence level will rise but never reach 100%. Even scientists have to agree on when enough is enough and communicate results though, not chasing 0.000001% chances. 95% is a usually a fair time to say "This probably won't find anything, have we got any alternative models? Better detection techniques? We need to try something different."

Re:Statistics (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184013)

> The moment statistics get involved, yes.

And statistics always gets involved.

Re:Statistics (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188195)

>> The moment statistics get involved, yes.

>And statistics always gets involved.

Not always.
Just ~99.8% of times.

Confidence Level (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183005)

95%CL means that if you were to build 100 Tevatrons and repeat that experiment exactly as before you would expect no more that 5 of those experiments to show a Higgs signal within the given range. The reason for expressing things this way is that the chance of a Higgs boson being produced (if it does exist) is random. Hence there is always a non-zero chance that the reason you have seen nothing is because nature just 'randomly' decided not to produce any Higgs bosons in you experiment i.e. you were really unlucky.

In fact the range shown is not a flat confidence range and in the centre we can be a lot more certain that we have not just been unlucky i.e. the range shown is 95% confident or higher.

So ... worst-case scenario? (2, Interesting)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182119)

What are the implications for NOT finding the Hggs Boson? Will it be a case of "We know it exists, we just can't find it", or will it be more about figuring out what's what if it doesn't really exist?

Re:So ... worst-case scenario? (4, Informative)

n0mad6 (668307) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182213)

No, there's no guarantee a *Standard Model* Higgs Boson (which is what this search is) even exists. We know some mechanism exists for the symmetry that's broken between the Electromagnetic and Weak forces, but that doesn't necessarily have to be in the form of a standard model Higgs.

Re:So ... worst-case scenario? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183061)

I bet there'll be a few red faces if some people are forced to admit they got their sums wrong... :-)

Re:So ... worst-case scenario? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27182511)

They'll continue to argue about it.
Watch this: ted.com video [ted.com]

Re:So ... worst-case scenario? (2, Funny)

MouseR (3264) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182531)

What did they expect after calling it the God particle? That it would just reveal itself out of oblivion?

Leave that to the creationists and remarket the Boson!

Re:So ... worst-case scenario? (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182705)

Leave that to the creationists and remarket the Boson!

The new Bose On(tm) particle - it's the best-sounding particle ever! It's so good, they named two physicists after it!

Re:So ... worst-case scenario? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183113)

it's the best-sounding particle ever!

I don't think so. After all, the saying goes: "no highs, no lows, you know it's Bose".

Re:So ... worst-case scenario? (1)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183671)

I've heard Leon Lederman wanted to call it the "goddamn particle" because dealing with was turning out to be such a bitch, but the book publisher made him change the title.

Re:So ... worst-case scenario? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183841)

Leave that to the creationists and remarket the Boson!

Put lipstick on it and call it the Boson's Mate!

Best case scenario! (4, Interesting)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182783)

What are the implications for NOT finding the Hggs Boson?

Not finding the Higgs is the BEST scenario because it means that what we think we know is all wrong and that means that the Universe does things a different way and once we figure out what that is there will be a whole realm of new and exciting possibilities to explain some of the other stuff that we do not understand.

What is great about the LHC is that we have to start seeing evidence either for either the Higgs or something else. The Standard Model literally breaks down and starts to make no sense at all arounf 1TeV in energy: without the Higgs it predicts certain interactions will happen more than 100% of the time! Hence we either have to see the Higgs or something else if the Higgs does not exist.

Re:Best case scenario! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27183513)

Not finding the Higgs is the BEST scenario

Unless, of course, it really does exist.

Re:Best case scenario! (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184835)

Unless, of course, it really does exist.

You cannot have the Standard Model Higgs exist and yet not be found at the LHC....unless the Universe starts to play silly buggers with the laws of probability which in itself would be a result many have long suspected!

Re:So ... worst-case scenario? (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183053)

While absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, it does point that way if there has been a concerted effort to find it.

Some will cling to the notion that we just haven't found it yet, others will propose new models that either don't call for higgs, show it to be 'somewhere' we haven't looked (meaning requiring higher energy interactions than we have been able to achieve), or otherwise explain why we wouldn't have seen it. Experiments will be devised and run to test predictions of the new models. If those prove out, the new models will be accepted and the old discarded.

Re:So ... worst-case scenario? (1)

kayditty (641006) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187449)

While absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, it does point that way if there has been a concerted effort to find it.

so what you're saying is absence of evidence is evidence of absence?

Easier vs. Harder (4, Informative)

n0mad6 (668307) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182197)

Its not a matter of "some thinking"-- the backgrounds that swamp a Higgs signal for a low mass Higgs are simply more prevalent at the energies of the LHC. The LHC makes up for that by being able to accumulate much more data than the Tevatron in a shorter amount of time. Of course, up to probably early next year, we at the Tevatron are in a superior position in that any data is greater than the zero the LHC will have accumulated.

Re:Easier vs. Harder (5, Funny)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182915)

"...any data is greater than the zero the LHC will have accumulated."

BURN!

Re:Easier vs. Harder (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27185149)

"...any data is greater than the zero the LHC will have accumulated."

BURN!

This is why I still read slashdot :P

Re:Easier vs. Harder (1)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183695)

A serious question:

can the LHC be run at less than maximum energy in order to get the best distributions of backgrounds vs particle number for the particular experiment?

Re:Easier vs. Harder (1)

n0mad6 (668307) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185533)

Yes it can be run at lower energies, and at first, it will have to until the accelerator experts get a feel for how well the magnets perform. In the long run there is no point to running it at lower energies-- i.e., why spend more money to build a machine that does the same thing as the Tevatron?

Re:Easier vs. Harder (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184655)

"we at the Tevatron"

You work at Fermi? I just took an offer there, and start in 2 weeks. Hope I get to run into you =)

Go DZero! (1)

stox (131684) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182305)

Somebody needs to keep those folks over at CDF in check. ;->

Maybe it does not exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27182431)

This would be really good news. Awesome as it is, the Standard Model depends on so many free parameters that it is difficult to believe that we can't come up with a more compelling theory. Not finding the Higgs would open up a new era in this respect.

Wow! (5, Funny)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182433)

This is so cool! I get a hadron just thinking about it :-)

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27182711)

Bruce, you already made that joke before!

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27183619)

Along with 90000 other people

Re:Wow! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27185071)

This is so cool! I get a hadron just thinking about it :-)

Too small to be seen with the naked eye, with a lifetime measured in nanoseconds, and the only evidence of it's solitary passing a few droplets left behind in the lonely vacuum of a cloud chamber?

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27185879)

This is so cool! I get a hadron just thinking about it :-)

I would think it would be rather hard for someone of your low User ID to do so...

Hey! (1)

HiggsBison (678319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186993)

Hey! Hey! None of that now! Stay behind the fence!

Re:Wow! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27189009)

Was it a large hadron?

Suggestion (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182445)

Unplug the microwave in the break room.

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27182555)

...expecting a different result?

Actually, that's just experimental high energy physics!

it was in the pool (0, Redundant)

escay (923320) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182829)

what do you mean, like laundry?

It's always in the last place you look (1)

KumquatOfSolace (1412203) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182853)

So look there first.

America, fuck yeah (1)

wicka (985217) | more than 5 years ago | (#27182985)

Is it weird that I want Fermilab to find the Higgs boson - rather than CERN - just out of patriotism?

No, it isn't (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183083)

It's perfectly understandable. While I don't want the Higgs to exist, not because I'm unpatriotic, but out of sheer perversity. I really don't like the way physics is going, with all this speculation about tiny dimensions, strings and multiple universes, and I would really like us to find out that Nature (anthropomorphic personification, I know, I know) is indeed fundamentally simple.

Re:No, it isn't (1)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183595)

I hold out a great deal of faith that we will discover something fundamental about the universe just as simplistically beautiful as Euler's identity [wikipedia.org] . Strings and 10 dimensions really does seem messy and inelegant, I too want there to be a "better" model.

Re:No, it isn't (1)

kayditty (641006) | more than 5 years ago | (#27187523)

it can't be--brian greene wrote a book saying that strings are, in fact, elegant.

Re:No, it isn't (3, Interesting)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184349)

Uh, well, yeah, except the universe as we know it is already pretty complex (there are a great many particles already known to exist), and not finding the Higgs would up-end one of the nicest and simplest parts of our current understanding, which is to say symmetry (and lots of other aspects of the Standard Model). The new theory would probably end up being much more complicated to explain why symmetry exists in some cases but not others.

Kinda like how when we figured out Newton's Theory was inaccurate, what replaced it was much more complicated and frankly much weirder. Light travels at a constant velocity relative to all inertial observers? Traveling near the speed of light or a large gravity well alters mass, length, and the relative passage of time? And since we've experimentally verified most of these effects, whatever theory replaces Relativity will probably be even more complicated and more strange to explain both the known effects and whatever anomalies arise to show Relativity to be wrong.

It's possible that at the core there's a Theory of Everything where one simple equation explains all the emergent behaviors that every other theory tries to explain. But it isn't a given, we're a long way from that, and not finding the Higgs will open a doorway to many new possibilities, lots of em plenty damn complex. Hell one of the things that attracts physicists to String Theory is that it is, relatively speaking, mathematically simple and elegant.

Be careful what you wish for, is what I'm saying.

Re:No, it isn't (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186809)

While relativity is less down to earth and certainly less straightfoward (some puns intended) from a common sense perspective, there is also some inherent beauty in it, one of them being exactly that constant speed of light and the limiting of speed. With some success, one might even arguee that it is only marginally more complex, until you try to frame it in a way suitable to approximating a Newtonian mind in "non-relativistic" conditions. Then, by necessity, everything else is expressed as correction terms of one form or another.

Re:America, fuck yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27183117)

No, just plain dumb.

Re:America, fuck yeah (1)

zizzo (86200) | more than 5 years ago | (#27183811)

No, most Americans think the same thing. I don't think anyone at Fermilab or CERN thinks that way because it tends to be a lot of the same people. They're all physicists and they all want to run the experiments and get on with science.

They do want to get their names on papers & articles though.

Re:America, fuck yeah (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184103)

No, but keep in mind both CERN and Fermilab have giant collaborations with members from all of the world making important contributions.

One of the primary reasons I want Fermilab to find (or rule out) a SM Higgs is so that the community here in the US continutes to get funding. Unlike a lot of other government supported projects, one can't just turn the spigot on and off for physics research. It takes years/decades to train not just theorists but the experimentalists too and those industries which support their technological innovations.

Re:America, fuck yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27185653)

People at CERN (I also work on one of their experiments) seem to be lucky. If Higgs is lighter than 150 GeV it will probably be found on LHC (well, measurements of W boson and top mass also predict such outcome, and according to that it should be expected just a few GeV above the limit set by LEP, where Tevatron is not sensitive enough).

Btw. 95% confidence level still means that there is 5% chance they are wrong with this exclusion.

That is the chance that either systematic errors made Higgs 'disappear' from results or that they were unlucky with the distribution of Higgs events so Higgs decays, usually visible as peak in the distribution, can't be distinguished from the background (i.e. peak was diluted because of 'unlucky' distribution of decay events).

Particle of the gaps (1)

Hangeron (314487) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184261)

Higgs boson is the particle of the gaps.

Lol (2, Funny)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184579)

At 90% confidence the Higgs is ruled out between about 157 and 185 GeV/c^2

Man I am going to win so many bar bets this weekend...

Math != Science (1, Interesting)

czarangelus (805501) | more than 5 years ago | (#27184705)

This is such a stupid pursuit. Mathematics is not science! Math and science work around totally different lines. Academia needs to return to natural philosophy - first make observations, then make a theory for those observations, and then test that theory by experiment. Mathematics is not testable any more so than formal logic. Physics has gone off the rails since Einstein, postulating all kinds of absurd entities with no evidence whatsoever except "the math doesn't work." I mean, the argument for dark matter is a classic appeal to ignorance: we can't see it so it must be there! More and more particles like gluons and gravitons have to be invented to continue to bolster theories that are starting to look more holed than a block of swiss cheese. bad methodology has led science into a decades-long blind alley, as has happened so many times before.

Re:Math != Science (3, Insightful)

Baron_Yam (643147) | more than 5 years ago | (#27185029)

The math is a model of our current (science-derived) understanding of things.

If the math turns up results we have yet to observe (or observe the lack of) then we look. Because there are two possibilities - the math is wrong or it's pointing to something new.

Either way, it's science. Observe, theorize, and test are all in there. The math is just a tool.

Re:Math != Science (1)

itsdapead (734413) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186689)

Physics has gone off the rails since Einstein, postulating all kinds of absurd entities with no evidence whatsoever except "the math doesn't work."

Ever since Newton, math has been fairly crucial to making and testing theories in Physics. However, as long as Physics was dealing with subjects which could be usefully envisioned in terms of nice, human scale machines with rolling balls and pendulums and stuff, anybody could take an interest in the "qualitative" side and build a nice little brass model with balls and springs that showed the principle.

Trouble is, when you start dealing with the very tiny, or the very large, or something that happened 0.001s after the Big Bang, things just don't work they way they do in the human scale world: modern physics really started (or "went of the rails" in your opinion) when "human scale" theories about atomic structure, light and gravity started to be debunked by observation and experiment (spectroscopy, the constant speed of light, electron diffraction, the orbit of Mercury...) With hindsight, why would you expect otherwise? Why would an electron behave like a little ball of "stuff" when its a few orders of magnitude smaller than the smallest bit of "stuff"? These phenomena aren't examples of the way the human scale world behaves, they're the reason why the human scale world behaves the way it does.

Currently, math is the only language which can cope with these concepts.

Personally, I think attempts to describe things like quantum mechanics in "real world" terms actually make them sound whackier than they really are (while also encouraging cruelty to cats).

Re:Math != Science (1)

cnettel (836611) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186903)

Now, we have this huge theory, based on old observations. It's called the Standard Model. It predicts some particles we haven't seen (yet). So, we devise experiments where those particles are likely to appear and be detectable. The language of the model is mainly mathematics. Naturally, we need some kind of framework and the general principle of (philosophical, not mathematical) induction to be able to devise any experiment not precisely coinciding with observations already made.

Doing experiments by plain intuition might be fun, but you need some kind of rigor to unify that into theories. And what do you propose to provide that rigor, that would be superior to math?

Higgs Smiggs (1)

Ken Broadfoot (3675) | more than 5 years ago | (#27186767)

But that Barbara Alvarez from Fermilabs is my kind of geek hottie!

statistics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188857)

Combined results from the CDF and DZero experiments at the Tevatron have ruled out the existence of the Higgs with a mass between 160 and 170 GeV/c^2 with 95% confidence. At 90% confidence the Higgs is ruled out between about 157 and 185 GeV/c^2.

Doesn't the confidence usually go up for larger intervals?

Re:statistics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27188895)

I understand now, those are the regions where the higgs will not be found... duh!

It does help to read things... sometimes

What if it doesn't exist? (1)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 5 years ago | (#27189433)

What about the possibility that the Higgs doesn't exist? How would that be proved?
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