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Fermilab Experiment Hints At Multiple Higgs Particles

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the so-many-particles-mister-fermi dept.

Science 271

krou writes "Recent results from the Dzero experiment at the Tevatron particle accelerator suggest that those looking for a single Higgs boson particle should be looking for five particles, and the data gathered may point to new laws beyond the Standard Model. 'The DZero results showed much more significant "asymmetry" of matter and anti-matter — beyond what could be explained by the Standard Model. Bogdan Dobrescu, Adam Martin and Patrick J Fox from Fermilab say this large asymmetry effect can be accounted for by the existence of multiple Higgs bosons. They say the data point to five Higgs bosons with similar masses but different electric charges. Three would have a neutral charge and one each would have a negative and positive electric charge. This is known as the two-Higgs doublet model.'" There's more detail in this writeup from Symmetry Magazine, a joint publication of SLAC and Fermilab. Here's the paper on the arXiv.

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Great news, everybody! (1)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585302)

We can all go Sliding to parallel universes, now!

Right?

Re:Great news, everybody! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32585312)

But can we really trust these people? They seem like a bunch of bosons.

Re:Great news, everybody! (4, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585386)

But can we really trust these people? They seem like a bunch of bosons.

Ahh, don't get your Higgs in a bunch; these people are SCIENTISTS! Scientists can do no wrong!

Re:Great news, everybody! (4, Funny)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585870)

"Back off, man -- I'm a scientist."

Re:Great news, everybody! (2, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585702)

But can we really trust these people? They seem like a bunch of bosons.

I think that one over there is a boson's mate.

Re:Great news, everybody! (2, Funny)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585896)

You oughta be lepton for saying such a thing.

Re:Great news, everybody! (4, Funny)

sconeu (64226) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586040)

Is your position fermion that?

That's awesome. (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585320)

And people were questioning why we should build such big machines...

Re:That's awesome. (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585468)

I'm guessing that this won't reassure them. "So, our big machine discovered some weird stuff, that we'll need to build two bigger machines to investigate in proper detail. I'm sure that neither of those will repeat this process..."

Outside of people informed enough to oppose particular scientific projects as being ill-conceived compared to other ones, support for, or opposition to, research projects is pretty much an ideological matter. People who support science as an end will be dissuaded only by the most grindingly uninteresting streaks of purely negative results. People who oppose it(or who rank it very low compared to other ends) will be appeased by only results that are trivially applicable to whatever they do care about. If, for example, one of these Higgs particles could be commercialized as a cure for male-pattern baldness or a source of HDTVs within the next two years...

Re:That's awesome. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585644)

> If, for example, one of these Higgs particles could be commercialized as a
> cure for male-pattern baldness or a source of HDTVs within the next two
> years...

No. What would guarantee generous funding for the next 65 years would be the development of a successor to nuclear weapons (anti-matter bombs, for example). You have to address the primary interest of those who control the money: killing people.

Re:That's awesome. (1)

qeveren (318805) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585742)

Incorrect. They have little interest in killing people, because there's little profit in that; they want to sell weapons to people who DO want to kill people.

Re:That's awesome. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585948)

> ...they want to sell weapons to people who DO want to kill people.

I.e., the politicians: the people with the money, and the ones who have been financing physics generously for 65 years in hopes of getting even badder weapons.

Re:That's awesome. (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586772)

At this point in time, I'd question whether they would fund anti matter weapons research. Tactically, do we really need a bigger boom than a nuke? I'd also imagine that anti-matter weapons would leave some nasty side effects hanging around after detonation.

As to the size of the explosion, it is not a good thing to leave a smoking crater where your enemy used to be. You actually want to kill/turn any resistance, and then acquire resources and spoils of war. Secondly, it would be quite pointless to make a bomb so big that it wipes out the entire planet. Talk about a Pyrric victory.

Re:That's awesome. (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585838)

I'm not sure that the people with cash would really want an even more nuclear than nuclear option floating around...

Being the only kid on the block with nukes has its perks; but that state lasted for about 20 minutes, back in the late 40's. Since then, anybody who has them has to contend with the fact that, if they actually do anything, pretty much everybody else will freak out and glass them. This has virtually obviated the theoretical killing potential. From their invention to the present, nukes probably trail machetes(never mind Kalashnikovs and assorted knockoffs) in terms of body count. You still have to have a collection of them on the mantle, kept polished and dusted, if you want to be part of the great powers club; but you don't actually get to use them, and you can't really stop uncouth little upstarts from collecting their own. Worse, you have to deal with the fact that, although you cannot use them, non-state, covert, or just plain nihilistic actors can. Back when you could be pretty certain that only real countries had nukes, you could rely on MAD. If some nutjob, or untraceable tool of somebody's intelligence apparatus goes and blows up something expensive, the incumbents lose, and don't have any good way of retaliating.

Some sort of uber-nuke super-superweapon would, at best, bring you back to the late 40's situation(minus the enviable economic position of being the only major industrialized nation not squatting in a pile of its own rubble). At worst, it would just antagonize the other nuclear powers.

There will certainly always be money to keep the existing stock dusted and polished, and react to any threats to its efficacy; but I suspect that, if you want military money, you'd do much better by developing weapons that they will be able to use without excessive diplomatic trouble. Drones, precision munitions, vehicles that can't be destroyed by explosively formed penetrators that can be fabricated by anybody with a supply of ammonium nitrate and metal forming skills somewhere between "early modern blacksmith" and "1850's machine shop", etc.

Re:That's awesome. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586064)

> Some sort of uber-nuke super-superweapon...

You aren't thinking it through. There would be no lower limit to the size of an bomb made with stable anti-matter (not to mention what it would do for the propulsion of weapons and military craft).

> ...vehicles that can't be destroyed by explosively formed penetrators that
> can be fabricated by anybody with a supply of ammonium nitrate and metal
> forming skills somewhere between "early modern blacksmith" and "1850's
> machine shop", etc.

And that's the worry, isn't it? (at least for the politicians). Eventually the technology would become public knowledge and when someone with a grudge and no reason to live can swallow a gel capsule containing a milligram of anti-matter and then just loiter within half a mile or so of your palace...

Re:That's awesome. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32586554)

Warning: this article may contain humor, sarcasm, parody, and perhaps even irony. Read at your own risk.

What about stupidity? You didn't warn me that there might be stupidity.

Re:That's awesome. (0, Troll)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585830)

you fail. even negative results are interesting to scientists. a negative can infer as much if not more then finding what you expect. people that think unless they can buy it in walmart it's not worth doing, were around when they were investigating the nature of electricity, and now look at how important that knowledge is. the information we are getting from places like LHC will be the lynch pin to our future discoveries. to the morons looking for stuff to buy at walmart, i direct you to aisle 3 for the hana montana dvd's.

Re:That's awesome. (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585918)

I'm afraid your reading comprehension leaves something to be desired.

"Outside of people informed enough to oppose particular scientific projects as being ill-conceived compared to other ones, support for, or opposition to, research projects is pretty much an ideological matter. People who support science as an end will be dissuaded only by the most grindingly uninteresting streaks of purely negative results. People who oppose it(or who rank it very low compared to other ends) will be appeased by only results that are trivially applicable to whatever they do care about. If, for example, one of these Higgs particles could be commercialized as a cure for male-pattern baldness or a source of HDTVs within the next two years..."

The first phrase intentionally excludes scientists in the discipline and very atypically well informed laymen from the rest of the discussion. For them, negative results are certainly of use(though, if you look at scientific publication patterns, even among the professionals, positive results publish better) and of interest.

Then there is the category of interested laymen. The sort of people who like science, think space travel and big science machines are pretty cool, paid attention in high school/undergrad science classes, read science popularizations and maybe the occasional lighter paper, attend lectures when available, etc. Here, I stand by my assertion that an excessively dull string of negative results will blunt their enthusiasm. Not enough to turn them into the third category; but enough that they will probably lose interest in project X and go watch project Y instead.

Re:That's awesome. (1, Redundant)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586054)

my reading comprehension is just fine thanks.

an issue like this is going to be completely polarized. either LHC is worth doing or it isn't. you can't do it cheaper or on a smaller scale so there's never going to be a middle ground.

negative results will still infer a great deal of information that the brains behind the operation will dumb down to layman's terms for the non uber nerds, so they will stay interested anyway.

the brain dead idiots who think LHC is a waste of money will as you said, never change their minds.

Re:That's awesome. (1)

Joe Tie. (567096) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586152)

Don't forget the other affliction of old guys. Two things that will always be money makers. Helping old guys kill young dudes from other countries, and returning life to those old guys dead boners. The graveyard and the bone zone, you'll never go broke setting up shop there.

LEXX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32586266)

then they found the higgs boson and it shrank the planet to the size of a pea

Re:That's awesome. (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586512)

I guess to me it's strongly correlated with how universal in space and time the results are. It's fairly easy to do science which is good science as such, but just either very constricted, navel gazing or void of any fundamental insights. Of course case studies are to the soft sciences what experiments are to the hard sciences, but I don't see how studying ancient Egyptians will ever yield anything significant outside the field of ancient Egyptians. Understanding the fundamental particles and forces of the universe is extremely lasting knowledge and any insights or applications you can find can be used by all of humanity forever. To take one example, Magnetic resonance imaging [wikipedia.org] is very useful in medicine, less than 40 years old and depends on a deep understanding of nuclear magnetic resonance.

True, some thing won't be practically useful now or in the future but how would you know that if you haven't discovered what it can and can't do? To me it's a little bit like handing an illiterate forest tribe a laptop without telling him anything about it, I doubt they'd find it useful because they'd have no idea what to use it for or even the knowledge or concepts to begin using it. The same goes for things that appear to be extremely costly, if you went back 50 years and tried to explain modern computers to an economist he'd short circuit because the cost would be beyond the GDP of the world many times over at the price/performance ratio he is used to. I have no idea what the first laser cost but I'm sure it was massive, today you can get them for next to nothing to use as a laser pointer or in every DVD player or PC with optical drive. But I guess many people are like the stock market, "long term" is what happens next year and equally short-sighted too.

Where's the applications? (0, Troll)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585394)

This is great and all, but does this mean we'll finally get some great new technologies like artificial gravity, FTL propulsion or communication, quantum-fluctuation energy, or interdimensional travel?

Re:Where's the applications? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32585420)

That at least 2 of the 5 mass inducing bosons have electrical charge makes the possibility of elecronically controlling the phenomenon more practical/plausible.

This is because they HAVE a charge, and thus, can be manipulated using the EM force.

Re:Where's the applications? (1)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586046)

Intermediate vector bosons are also charged, but there is still no practical way to engineer weak force.

Then again, maybe there's no reason to.

Re:Where's the applications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32585426)

Yes.

Re:Where's the applications? (5, Informative)

TinBromide (921574) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585442)

Simply because you or I cannot find an immediate use for something does not mean that it is not useful. Who knows, in 15 years, knowledge gained through these experiments could lead to a better method of harvesting energy from some unknown source, or coming up with a better means of propulsion or medicine for a problem that we thought was mundane (subatomic cure for the common cold? who knows).

It is for this reason that science should be pursued so that when someone infinitely smarter than you combines this bit of knowledge with another bit, mankind sees a tangible benefit.

Re:Where's the applications? (1)

Robin47 (1379745) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585530)

Simply because you or I cannot find an immediate use for something does not mean that it is not useful. Who knows, in 15 years, knowledge gained through these experiments could lead to a better method of harvesting energy from some unknown source, or coming up with a better means of propulsion or medicine for a problem that we thought was mundane (subatomic cure for the common cold? who knows).

At least a redesigned toaster. I think that's doable in 15 years.

Re:Where's the applications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32585586)

At least a redesigned toaster. I think that's doable in 15 years.

Powered by FreeBSD.

Re:Where's the applications? (1)

rmaureira (1414691) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586000)

At least a redesigned toaster. I think that's doable in 15 years.

Powered by FreeBSD.

No no, by GNU/Hurd

Re:Where's the applications? (4, Funny)

SETIGuy (33768) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586002)

Make it 20 years then.

Re:Where's the applications? (1)

LetterRip (30937) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585596)

Simply because you or I cannot find an immediate use for something does not mean that it is not useful. Who knows, in 15 years, knowledge gained through these experiments could lead to a better method of harvesting energy from some unknown source, or coming up with a better means of propulsion or medicine for a problem that we thought was mundane (subatomic cure for the common cold? who knows).

It is for this reason that science should be pursued so that when someone infinitely smarter than you combines this bit of knowledge with another bit, mankind sees a tangible benefit.

The flaw with this reasoning is that we have all sorts of interesting possible research. It isn't expensive super collider vs no research it is 10 billion dollars used for building a super collider vs 10 billion spent on other research.

Re:Where's the applications? (1)

alexo (9335) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585914)

The flaw with this reasoning is that we have all sorts of interesting possible research. It isn't expensive super collider vs no research it is 10 billion dollars used for building a super collider vs 10 billion spent on other research.

I guess that Gauss et al. should not have wasted their time on pure mathematics fields (such as number theory) that had absolutely no practical applications at the time.

Re:Where's the applications? (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585722)

Simply because you or I cannot find an immediate use for something does not mean that it is not useful.

When your useful something is about to explode any picosecond, you'd better find an immediate use quick.

like being able to build ZPM's? (2, Funny)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585786)

like being able to build ZPM's?

Here's one, right here! (1)

WheelDweller (108946) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586308)

Just as the original poster was saying, we might not find out what good these findings are for some time.

As an example, I've found out why ducks poop. Yes, yes I spent years and billions of dollars tracking down the reason so that all of you can take heed and learn the truth: they eat.

Just spending time and money sitting on something for decades hoping for relevance isn't all that useful (as in the example above). I mean, we needed smaller wires and smaller transistors for space flight....so we came up with semiconductors where the entire circuits were built in silicon. (as opposed to discrete components). We didn't sit on the side of the road and count buses.

Scientific progress that requires we wait for years for something to show isn't science...it's loitering. There are *many* clever experimenters out there. Because your 32-year project is funded, theirs aren't.

Every kid who's ever looked at a dish on the table and tried to move it with his mind, eventually gets up and grabs it. Because that's how real learning/discovery/proving gets done.

Re:Where's the applications? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32585456)

patience dude... patience... once we get time travel out of it, it doesn't matter how long it took right?

Re:Where's the applications? (3, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585560)

If we are going to get time travel out of it we would already be neck deep in time travelers and it would be impossible to get tickets to the world cup. Neither of those things is happening so this result will not give us time travel.

Re:Where's the applications? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32585780)

Yes, because when one can go anywhere/anytime, they'll choose to watch soccer? I certainly hope our future isn't that depressing...

Re:Where's the applications? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585908)

Unfortunately they are all here playing chatroullette.

People from the future are dicks.

Re:Where's the applications? (2, Funny)

Merls the Sneaky (1031058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585828)

What would be the point of that? People in the future would already know the outcome.

Re:Where's the applications? (5, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586144)

What would be the point of that? People in the future would already know the outcome.

I am an Australian so I already know the outcome of games involving my team but that wouldn't stop me from watching the game.

Re:Where's the applications? (2, Insightful)

Danse (1026) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585966)

If we are going to get time travel out of it we would already be neck deep in time travelers and it would be impossible to get tickets to the world cup. Neither of those things is happening so this result will not give us time travel.

Perhaps we're already knee deep in them and don't even know it. They're probably really good at creating identities for themselves, and if they ever fuck up, they could go back and fix it. Or perhaps this period in time is considered to be a pretty shitty time to come back to, so they don't bother?

Re:Where's the applications? (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586610)

"OK, so you think that time flows that way, do you? Interesting."

Re: Where's the applications? (5, Informative)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585494)

This is great and all, but does this mean we'll finally get some great new technologies like artificial gravity, FTL propulsion or communication, quantum-fluctuation energy, or interdimensional travel?

We're still getting new technologies out of the strange sub-atomic stuff others started discovering c. 120 years ago.

Re: Where's the applications? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585548)

We're still getting new technologies out of the strange sub-atomic stuff others started discovering c. 120 years ago.

Proton, Neutron, Electron. Have we come up with any new technologies out of any sub-atomic particles since then?

Personally, I find this fascinating. Especially if it means the Standard Model has to be revised (again!), since you can never tell what you're going to get when the theory has to be scrapped....

Re: Where's the applications? (1)

forkazoo (138186) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585662)

Proton, Neutron, Electron. Have we come up with any new technologies out of any sub-atomic particles since then?

Personally, I find this fascinating. Especially if it means the Standard Model has to be revised (again!), since you can never tell what you're going to get when the theory has to be scrapped....

Understanding the quantum mechanical behavior of electrons has been very significant in modern semiconductor design and fabrication. A lot of pure research into subatomic particles has contributed to the computer that you used to ask the question. (Also, LED's, and LCD's, etc.)

Re: Where's the applications? (1)

thrawn_aj (1073100) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586156)

Positrons [wikipedia.org] . It's not that the rest aren't useful (for analogous uses - essentially as probes of structure. Think of any field where physical structure needs to be probed. Then think of exotic particles as more useful probes that can replace light or that can probe more exotic properties of matter (like spin)). It's just that miniaturizing collider technology or getting otherwise practical sources for these particles is a major PITA. The day that happens is the day we can all have ghostbusters-style proton packs and kick some ectoplasmic ass. But I digress.

Re: Where's the applications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32586724)

Positron Emission Tomography

Re:Where's the applications? (4, Informative)

john83 (923470) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585574)

When Einstein wrote about the stimulated emission of light in 1917 (The paper is called "Zur Quantentheorie der Strahlung"), there was (a) no example of it known in nature (still isn't, I think) (b) no known way to produce it and (c) no known application. Welcome to LaserFest [laserfest.org]

Re:Where's the applications? (5, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585684)

I apologize in advance for my ignorant questions, but you seem like you might know the answers and be able to break it down for a layman like myself.

First, how did Einstein postulate the existence of stimulated emission of light? Did he have some type of lab where he did experiments leading him to this conclusion, or is it all purely mathematical?

Second, who figured out how to produce it, and how?

As an engineer, this is the part I'm most interested in in this subject area: getting from some theorized effect in physics to being able to create and control this effect at will, and then coming up with useful applications for it. Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like schools gloss over all this stuff; they talk about Einstein coming up with E=mc^2, briefly mention some guys working on the Manhattan Project, and boom, next thing you know there's atomic bombs exploding.

I wonder what other interesting properties in physics have been written about, perhaps even verified experimentally, but no one's yet devised a way to harness them.

Re:Where's the applications? (5, Interesting)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585860)

Einstein was purely a theoretical physicist. He knew the state of the current experiments (Young's, various astronomical observations), and the state of the current math (specifically Maxwell and Boltzman). Beyond that, he managed to figure out brilliant thought experiments that pointed his math in the right direction, and was able to work with new interpretations of existing phenomena (such as his statistical interpretation of light phenomena). Actual lasers were first demonstrated in 1960.

The reasons schools gloss over the engineering aspect are that it takes a very long time, a lot of people and a lot of tedious, small increments to go from a new physical effect to a working application. There's very little to be consistently learned about the engineering process that isn't already known.

As for an interesting property that hasn't found an application: quantum entanglement. Yeah, we're kinda seeing baby steps, but consider how long people have been working on it, and how many supposed breakthroughs we've had. There isn't a gadget you can buy at radioshack that uses this.

Re:Where's the applications? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586056)

As for an interesting property that hasn't found an application: quantum entanglement.

I don't think this is quite correct. Many applications involving cryptography and secure communications have been thought of for this, from what I've read about it. Getting it working is another matter. Some have even thought of using it for FTL communications (but I don't know if the phenomenon is actually FTL or not).

It seems to me the applications shouldn't be that difficult to dream up. Of course, hindsight is 20-20 and I wasn't actually there to know if no one really thought of applications for lasers before they were invented, but it seems like several useful applications for them should have been fairly obvious right away, as soon as they were thought of in theory: applications involving precise measurement would be the first thing to come to mind.

I'm pretty sure coming up with applications for nuclear fusion didn't take long either: obviously, someone thought it would make a great bomb early on.

Of course, for any physics phenomenon or technology, there's going to be further applications that no one thinks of until later, after the technology becomes more commonplace, such as using lasers for Pink Floyd concerts or playing with cats. But it seems like a few initial applications for most phenomena should be readily apparent even before anyone's managed to verify it experimentally.

Re:Where's the applications? (2, Insightful)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586754)

(but I don't know if the phenomenon is actually FTL or not).

It is, that's what makes it cool. When particles are entangled, if you move one the other moves with no outside influence - the action is instantaneous and distance doesn't matter. The hard part right now is keeping them entangled at a distance - the further apart you move the particles the harder it is to keep them from losing their entanglement. So long as they are actually entangled, though, distance doesn't introduce any kind of delay in the reaction of one particle to another. If they could get it to work across the world it would be phenomenal, but so far they've only managed a few feet.

In any case, the parent poster was talking about actual applications of quantum entanglement today. As you said, we've got ideas, but no applications yet.

I personally think understanding how/why mass exists is going to do a lot in the area of energy at first, and if it opens up a more correct theory of physics the sky is the limit really. There is no telling what it might do for us.

Re:Where's the applications? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32586742)

As for an interesting property that hasn't found an application: quantum entanglement. Yeah, we're kinda seeing baby steps, but consider how long people have been working on it, and how many supposed breakthroughs we've had. There isn't a gadget you can buy at radioshack that uses this.

you may not be able to buy one at your local store, but major banks have been using entangled photons traveling through normal fiber optic lines to ensure no one is eavesdropping for about 10 years now

Re:Where's the applications? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32586010)

First, how did Einstein postulate the existence of stimulated emission of light? Did he have some type of lab where he did experiments leading him to this conclusion, or is it all purely mathematical?

Perhaps it was just a "hunch".

Do you know why Kepler thought the Sun had to be at the centre of the solar system, and what he kept working at his planetary model until he got the math to work? He believe that the physical order followed the divine order: that God, as the source of all Truth and Light, was orbited by all other entities. The Sun, as the source of light in our realm of reality, therefore had to be orbited by all the entities in the sky:

As he indicated in the title, Kepler thought he had revealed God’s geometrical plan for the universe. Much of Kepler’s enthusiasm for the Copernican system stemmed from his theological convictions about the connection between the physical and the spiritual; the universe itself was an image of God, with the Sun corresponding to the Father, the stellar sphere to the Son, and the intervening space between to the Holy Spirit. His first manuscript of Mysterium contained an extensive chapter reconciling heliocentrism with biblical passages that seemed to support geocentrism.[15]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johannes_Kepler

Purely Mathematical (2, Informative)

dlenmn (145080) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586072)

I'm not a historian of science, but my understanding is that it was purely mathematical -- invented before the relevant quantum mechanics was known. As my undergrad QM text (Griffiths, p 356) says, "Einstein was forced to 'invent' stimulated emission in order to reproduce Plank's formula [wikipedia.org] ." I believe he justified it with a fairly abstract thermodynamics argument (he didn't identify a mechanism, he just showed it had to be true or else thermodynamics would be violated). Sorry that I can't cite sources -- I don't have them handy.

Re:Where's the applications? (5, Informative)

LeDopore (898286) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586098)

Mods: granted this is off-topic, but I'd like to indulge the parent post's questions. I am a biophysicist.

Let me have a stab at explaining the history of stimulated emission and lasers.

Einstein predicted stimulated emission based just on two things: the fact that atoms can absorb light and the fact that thermodynamically, as you approach infinite temperature all possible arrangements of particles become equally likely. Consider a collection of atoms that have a ground and an excited state. As temperature (and black-body radiation) increases, more and more photons will pump atoms into the excited state. Excited states naturally decay after a certain lifetime, but without stimulated emission, at higher temperatures more and more atoms would get pumped into the excited state, until an arbitrarily large fraction of atoms would be in the excited state at arbitrarily high temperature. However, from thermodynamics we know that as you approach arbitrarily high temperature there will be a 50/50 mix of ground state and excited atoms, since high temperature favors disorder (entropy) and 50/50 mixes are maximally disordered. Therefore, there must be a process whose rate is proportional to the intensity of the thermal radiation in the system that takes an atom from the excited to the ground state; this is stimulated emission.

Different people give credit to different inventors of the laser, but you can make a good case for Charles Townes' input being timely and critical. He figured out that putting a gain medium (a material with population inversion - more atoms in the excited than the ground state) in an optical resonator would produce coherent light through stimulated emission. He turns 95 next month, and is still going strong last I heard.

Re:Where's the applications? (1)

phizix (1143711) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586620)

As an engineer, this is the part I'm most interested in in this subject area: getting from some theorized effect in physics to being able to create and control this effect at will, and then coming up with useful applications for it. Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like schools gloss over all this stuff; they talk about Einstein coming up with E=mc^2, briefly mention some guys working on the Manhattan Project, and boom, next thing you know there's atomic bombs exploding.

You should start by reading about this guy named Fermi [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Where's the applications? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32585698)

You can't win if you don't play.

Re:Where's the applications? (1)

Aksimel (1347591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585748)

yea, and that fat guy goofing around with a kite and a key in a thunderstorm was totally wasting everyone's time too.

Re:Where's the applications? (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586168)

That's a common myth. It was actually his bastard son [youtube.com]

laser: from theory to practice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32585926)

This is great and all, but does this mean we'll finally get some great new technologies like artificial gravity, FTL propulsion or communication, quantum-fluctuation energy, or interdimensional travel?

In 1917 Einstein published a theoretical paper about the absorption, spontaneous emission, and stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. In 1928, Rudolf W. Ladenburg confirmed the existences of the phenomena; in 1947, Willis E. Lamb and R. C. Retherford found apparent stimulated emission in hydrogen spectra and effected the first demonstration of stimulated emission; on 16 May 1960, Theodore Maiman demonstrated the first functional laser.

We now have fibre optics transmitting data around the world instead of giant copper bundles, and it only took 43 years (of course it took another 15+ before it went from the first prototype to the "real world"):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser

We don't know what the results will be, that's why it's called research.

Polytheism (4, Funny)

drstock (621360) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585514)

So if the Higgs particle is the 'God particle', does this mean that polytheism is the way to go? Yay Hinduism?

Re:Polytheism (1)

thrawn_aj (1073100) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586192)

IAAP and I wince every time I hear that moronic name for the Higgs. Probably a funding trick or some in-joke. Old physicists turning to religion when they feel their mind turning to mush in their twilight years is a sad end to otherwise illustrious careers (and not altogether implausible as a reason for this ridiculous name).

Re:Polytheism (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586810)

Probably a funding trick or some in-joke.

Or perhaps it's because it's the explanation that accounts for everything of substance in the universe (aka mass), yet has remained hitherto unseen.

Sorta like a religious explanation of god, don't you think? God is a divine being responsible for the entire universe, yet nobody has seen him. Higgs boson is responsible for all the mass in the universe, yet nobody has seen it. Sounds like a "God particle" to me, especially since it's the lynch-pin for the existence of all matter in the universe.

The only reason I could see for you cringing whenever you hear it is some misplaced violent anti-god sentiment.

Re:Polytheism (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586240)

No three persons, one substance. Sounds like the Trinity to me. Christians win.

Re:Polytheism (4, Funny)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586440)

Except there are five, and I suck at reading comprehension. I must be a regular here.

Re:Polytheism (1)

ArbitraryDescriptor (1257752) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586622)

Three persons = Neutral charge (x3), Positive, Negative. Neutral charge is just.. more plentiful. Hell, it makes as much sense as the the Trinity, don't be so hard on yourself :)

Re:Polytheism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32586644)

and I suck at reading comprehension

So what you are saying is that you really are Christian huh ?

turtles all the way down (3, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585516)

you gotta love nature. just when you think you figured out what is behind the curtain, nature reveals yet another curtain.

More elementary particles than non-elementary (1)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585538)

I recall when being an "elementary particle" meant that there would be only a very small number of different types. Now a passe' notion, i understand. ...wait, actually I don't understand.

Re:More elementary particles than non-elementary (2, Interesting)

uranus65 (837545) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585590)

What is it about a particle that makes it have a particular charge? What is charge fundamentally? Are these known things or just stupid questions on my part? It seems to me if two particles can be different (positive or negative) then they must consist of something smaller that makes them that way.

Re:More elementary particles than non-elementary (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32585744)

Not stupid at all. The whole idea of a "particle" is kind of misleading. What is really going on at this scale (quantum field theory) is far more terrifying and mind bending that basic quantum mechanics (which is by itself very disturbing).

To simplify it slightly (or a whole lot actually), there are fundamental fields (like the electric and magnetic fields, for instance) which which have some associated energy density. Fields can also interact, (that is, if the fields are both nonzero at some point, there is additional energy due to them both being nonzero).

This is all fine and dandy (no particles yet). What we have described is classical field theory. Once we quantize these fields (i.e.,
bring in the quantum in QFT) the discrete steps these fields can take on become the "particles." The interactions between the fields become the force carriers, etc. These notions of "charge" correspond to how the fields couple.

Physics is hard. :(

Re:More elementary particles than non-elementary (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586818)

I recall when being an "elementary particle" meant that there would be only a very small number of different types. Now a passe' notion, i understand. ...wait, actually I don't understand.

Nobody understands physics. If you think you understand physics, you missed something...

Ironically (2, Insightful)

Tybalt_Capulet (1400481) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585542)

They built the LHC at Cern for something that was found out at the place they were trying to make obsolete.

Re:Ironically (2, Informative)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585690)

Well, they were making a bet that they'd either need the additional power or that they'd get there first eliminating things more quickly. The problem though was that there wasn't any definitive evidence that they needed the extra power and the technology was sufficiently advanced that they screwed up in a few places, giving the guys over in the US the chance to keep plugging away at it. Since technically speaking the Higgs Boson still hasn't been found, the LHC still might do it, but they've lost a lot of time in the search.

Re:Ironically (5, Informative)

ArbitraryDescriptor (1257752) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585840)

To be fair, they didn't actually "find" any Higgs-boson particles. They found "a one percent difference between the production of pairs of muons and pairs of antimuons in the decay of B mesons produced in high-energy collisions." And I started digging through wikipedia and some really hairy PDFs to find out why that matters and then my head exploded. Did you know muon's can displace electrons? Or that they can actually take an electron and create an element called muonium, that is effectively really light (1/9th mass) hydrogen, for a fraction of a second? Fuck, man. I hate my job, why can't I do that?

Anyway, from the Symmetry write up:

While the Tevatron can perform these indirect searches, it is too early to tell yet if the Higgs bosons would have masses the Tevatron can detect or would only be within reach of the higher-energy LHC.

Re:Ironically (2, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585878)

The LHC wasn't built just to find the Higgs.

Re:Ironically (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32586164)

Good thing, too, or they would have built it in the wrong country. Everyone knows The Higgs be in Scotland.

I need a bazzilion dollars... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32585570)

...to build a machine to find magic pixie dust, errr...God particles, errr...special teeny weenie things. I need another bazzillion dollars to investigate cats in boxes to determine if the cats are alive and dead at the same time.

Anybody else think this is modern-day snake oil?

Re: I need a bazzilion dollars... (5, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585634)

Anybody else think this is modern-day snake oil?

No.

Have you ever considered what technologies we wouldn't have today if people hadn't concerned themselves with the surprising spectrum of black body radiation over a century ago?

Re: I need a bazzilion dollars... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32585964)

(I'm pretty sure he hasn't ever considered that)

there is this interesting feature of human nature where if you don't have tangible experience with something yourself the concept must either be wrong or not exist in the first place. "I don't understand the science behind quantum physics / global warmning / whatever and haven't heard a plausible car analogy to explain it, therefore all the scientists have made a big mistake and doesn't exist." the arrogance of introspective existence or something. or maybe just a lack of empathy.

Re: I need a bazzilion dollars... (5, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586162)

the arrogance of introspective existence or something. or maybe just a lack of empathy.

Or maybe just the lack of science education. I took a college-level chemistry class recently. It kicked my ass, but it was worth it. When you can sit down with a piece of paper and a pencil and predict the results of some experiment mathematically, then go into a lab, perform the experiment, and see your results proven correct, you really get a feeling for, "Hey, maybe they really aren't just making all this shit up."

Unfortunately, not many people today are given this experience/forced to have this experience.

Re: I need a bazzilion dollars... (1)

quanminoan (812306) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586544)

Beautiful. Never read a more perfect summary of the necessity of doing pure science.

Re:I need a bazzilion dollars... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32585642)

nope

Re:I need a bazzilion dollars... (1)

BorgHunter (685876) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585844)

Anybody else think this is modern-day snake oil?

No. [symmetrymagazine.org] And on the other hand, no [wikipedia.org] .

Where's my gravity gun? (1)

Noitatsidem (1701520) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585796)

Okay, but this doesn't tell me where my gravity gun is-- Yeah sure I'm getting along great with this crowbar, but seriously give me my gravity gun.

Re:Where's my gravity gun? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32585822)

In the trunk of your flying car?

Re:Where's my gravity gun? (1)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585890)

Actually as far as I know the Higgs field doesn't help say anything about actual gravitation, whether passive (inertia) or active (causing space-time warping), since the Standard Model has no gravitation in it. It's more something which defines the relationships of rest masses of particles.

The actual particle physics of gravitation could be something else entirely.

So, no gravity gun for you.

Re:Where's my gravity gun? (1)

Randle_Revar (229304) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586092)

>gravity gun
all well and good, but when it comes to hand held gravity guns, I prefer the Xeelee [wikipedia.org] Starbreaker [tvtropes.org]

It was originally "The Goddamn Particle" (5, Informative)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 4 years ago | (#32585872)

not the portentious/pretentious "God Particle".

Leon Lederman called it The Goddamn Particle because finding it---or them---is so vexatious.

His editor changed the title of the book, removing the -damn, to make it more commercially successful.

quoth Peter Higgs: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/jun/30/higgs.boson.cern [guardian.co.uk]

Shall y'all moderate this "Informative" or "Funny"?

Re:It was originally "The Goddamn Particle" (3, Insightful)

thrawn_aj (1073100) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586242)

Thank you! It's nice to know that a scientist did not come up with this name (as I idly speculated somewhere else on this page). Unfortunately, (as in this case), it only takes a bit of time before a snarky name or an in-joke is taken seriously by enough people that a whole "well scientists are looking for god too" movement builds up.

Re:It was originally "The Goddamn Particle" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32586682)

Perhaps that's the damned point for that particles existence. It's to fill in a void of nature to exist, yet not interact with anything else in the universe. This of it as Natures NULL value.

touchdown jesus & oil boat hit by lightning.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32586220)

on the same day. quite a few 'particles' moving there. the odds on that are creepy. 'course many things are now.

the corepirate nazi illuminati is always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their platform now. they do pull A LOT of major strings.

never a better time for all of us to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one, & the terminal damage to our atmosphere (see also: manufactured 'weather', hot etc...). see you on the other side of it? the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be your guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need not to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

wait a second... (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586224)

ok, what with genetics, medicine, computer, cell, and other technological discoveries and advances being dominated by the US, we're supposed to think physics might be in that group too? But what about all the slashdot articles that say science in the US is dead? [slashdot.org] Obviously there has been a mistake. If the US isn't dominating everything, then there is cause for alarm and we must all get upset and stuff. And obviously the US is just failing in science and technology. Raise our fists in anger! America, Fark Yeah! //grumbles about inconsistent /. editors, walks off

USA USA USA (-1, Flamebait)

Veramocor (262800) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586324)

USA USA USA

Suck it European scientists, while you were sitting around eating your nutella and drinking cappuccinos while watching boring ass soccer (excuse me I mean football) our scientists just discovered the Higgs boson(s) with an underpowered accelerator compared to your new fancy one at CERN.

USA USA USA

Just kidding Europe I like your guys except Lichtenstein, I hate Lichtenstein.

Hello matter replicators (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32586370)

OK, so now all that's left is to learn how to manipulate these particles, and thus transmute atoms. Or disintegrate them...

Douglas Adams was obviously right (2, Interesting)

gweihir (88907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586600)

Whenever you look more closely, the universe is immediately replaces by something more complex and even more bizzare...

Looks like the Greeks had it right... Gods (1)

daurtanyn (258081) | more than 4 years ago | (#32586664)

If there are a plethora of god particles. We may have to rethink more than just physics models.

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