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Fermi Lab May Have Discovered New Particle or Force

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the probably-a-build-up-of-midichlorians dept.

Technology 226

schleprock63 writes "Physicists at Fermi Lab have found a 'suspicious bump' in their data that could indicate they've found a new elementary particle or even a new force of nature. The discovery could 'be the most significant discovery in physics in half a century.' Physicists have ruled out that the particle could be the standard model Higgs boson, but theorize that it could be some new and unexpected version of the Higgs. This discovery comes as the Tevatron is slated to go offline sometime in September."

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If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (0, Troll)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736604)

A person who smoked salvia said that a black hole in reality opened up and their soul was sucked into it. Meanwhile physicists claim that black holes suck in matter and light and it can never escape.

Maybe if more physicists smoked Salvia [erowid.org] they'd have a better natural understanding of the universe. They would understand that salvia [erowid.org] is an alien lifeform, a plant brought to the earth by the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greys [slashdot.org] to consume our souls. They would understand that our reality is an illusion and that this force they just discovered is the salvia [erowid.org] force, the ultimate proof of alien life. The universe and existence is fake, accept it. You don't have consciousness, you are just a biological machine, please accept it.

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35736644)

what

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736792)

GP is confusing Salvia with LSD

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (-1, Troll)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736902)

No, when I say salvia I mean salvia. LSD isn't nearly strong enough.

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (4, Insightful)

kyuubiunl (1747574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737076)

You sir, need to find a more competitive source for LSD.

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737152)

Try DMT, cowboy. Makes Salvia look like a Children's Chewable Tylenol. Also, people with schizophrenia should never do hallucinogens. Most people can do them, and still know the difference between hallucination and reality. Schizophrenics, not so much.

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737326)

Duh. Thus, the definition of schizophrenia.

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737358)

Duh. Thus, the definition of schizophrenia.

Oh, it should be obvious to most people, especially schizophrenics, but it isn't. They do things like Salvia and think they are talking to gray aliens.

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (1)

AhabTheArab (798575) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737166)

LSD isn't nearly strong enough.

Ha. It's plenty strong, you just need to eat more.

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (0)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736684)

Die in a fire pls, lol k thx bye

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (-1, Offtopic)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736714)

What is fire if there is no life to sense or measure heat?

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (1)

burisch_research (1095299) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737284)

Hot

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737450)

You are deeply confused by semantics. "It's all an illusion" is an illusion, because "it" is not "that." No separation. You are not a little homonculus in your head, looking out of your eyes and listening through your ears. The present moment is real, not an illusion. Consciousness is real, not an illusion, but there is no one that has consciousness. It exists, because it is created by circumstance, but consciousness does not adhere to an individual.

There is life to sense and measure heat. Life is real. It just isn't what you think it is, and rather than accept what it is, you have decided it is all an illusion. It is easier for some people to believe "It is all meaningless" than to take responsibility for creating meaning.

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (1)

jpedlow (1154099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736716)

All Aboard The Crazy Train!

WOO WOO!

Most physicists, like priests, are... (-1, Offtopic)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736736)

Get in, or else.

Re:Most physicists, like priests, are... (1)

jpedlow (1154099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736790)

Dude, this isnt your 1980's dodge van with the tinted/teardrop windows and shag carpet. And you dont have a puppy or free candy. Therefore not legit.

Re:Most physicists, like priests, are... (-1, Offtopic)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736814)

I bet you trust physicists don't you?
Just like you trust priests?
And doctors?

But why? Why trust them? They could manipulate or twist the facts to promote any kind of perspective they wish.

Re:Most physicists, like priests, are... (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737172)

You know what else twists facts and perspectives? Hallucinogens. Even weak ass hallucinogens like Salvia Divinorum.

Re:Most physicists, like priests, are... (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737200)

I bet you trust physicists don't you?
Just like you trust priests?
And doctors?

But why? Why trust them? They could manipulate or twist the facts to promote any kind of perspective they wish.

When a doctor says I'm fine, I don't believe him. When a priest tells me I'm not catholic, I believe him. When a physicist tells me not to cross the streams, I don't know what to believe. Which one is lying and why?

Re:Most physicists, like priests, are... (1)

Shikaku (1129753) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737348)

Dude, how can you trust yourself? Don't you know that you can lie too, even to yourself? Haven't you made a lie a reality once by saying "I did X" over and over until eventually you made yourself believe it?

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35736730)

is dat sum copypasta?

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737478)

gb2/b/

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (1)

vawwyakr (1992390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736878)

Slashdot has just opened up to a new demographic I think.

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (4, Insightful)

TheCRAIGGERS (909877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736948)

Slashdot has just opened up to a new demographic I think.

Who, crazy people? No, they've been here for years.

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (4, Funny)

Fibe-Piper (1879824) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736928)

A person who smoked salvia said that a black hole in reality opened up and their soul was sucked into it. Meanwhile physicists claim that black holes suck in matter and light and it can never escape.

Maybe if more physicists smoked Salvia [erowid.org] they'd have a better natural understanding of the universe. They would understand that salvia [erowid.org] is an alien lifeform, a plant brought to the earth by the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greys [slashdot.org] to consume our souls. They would understand that our reality is an illusion and that this force they just discovered is the salvia [erowid.org] force, the ultimate proof of alien life. The universe and existence is fake, accept it. You don't have consciousness, you are just a biological machine, please accept it.

Oddly enough, your post is as worth reading as the 40+ posts that came after it. You may have proved a point. God know what it is (maybe on some quantum scale you are proving that insanity is sanity at the same time) but, well done old chap.

Re:If it's not the God particle, it's Salvia. (0)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737004)

Uh...wha? I've smoked salvia many times and know the crazy shit it can make you see (I've seen television characters become demons in my living room, thought that all of existence was an illusion created by rapidly moving air bubbles in a universe of folded rubbery sheets,etc.), but you seem to be taking hallucinogen "revelations" a bit too seriously.

Don't get me wrong, drugs can be great for getting an alternate perspective on something, but you have to look at what you think you've discovered while high through the lens of reality before you can know if it's something worthwhile or just something you thought made sense at the time.

Also, personally I wouldn't be recommending salvia to everyone. It's effects are short-lived but incredibly potent and it certainly should not be used outside of appropriate environments. The reason it's getting banned in so many states are idiots who think they can treat it like weed and end up doing something stupid/dangerous in public.

Physicists ought to be drug tested Olympic style. (0)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737032)

Uh...wha? I've smoked salvia many times and know the crazy shit it can make you see (I've seen television characters become demons in my living room, thought that all of existence was an illusion created by rapidly moving air bubbles in a universe of folded rubbery sheets,etc.), but you seem to be taking hallucinogen "revelations" a bit too seriously.

Don't get me wrong, drugs can be great for getting an alternate perspective on something, but you have to look at what you think you've discovered while high through the lens of reality before you can know if it's something worthwhile or just something you thought made sense at the time.

Also, personally I wouldn't be recommending salvia to everyone. It's effects are short-lived but incredibly potent and it certainly should not be used outside of appropriate environments. The reason it's getting banned in so many states are idiots who think they can treat it like weed and end up doing something stupid/dangerous in public.

How do we know they aren't using performance enhancing drugs? We should test all physicists for drugs when they start talking about new forces or new theories of reality.

Re:Physicists ought to be drug tested Olympic styl (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737246)

We should test all physicists for drugs when they start talking about new forces or new theories of reality.

I don't think it's drugs so much as a looming expiration date for a project's funding. It's always nice to be able to point to something and say "look at this interesting new particle/force!" right before the plug gets pulled. That could get you another year or two.

Sad to lose the Tevatron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35736626)

It's my favourite synchronotron and without it the only thing at least as powerful will be the LHC and there's only one of those.

Re:Sad to lose the Tevatron (1)

show me altoids (1183399) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736740)

It's a ploy to keep the funds flowing.

Re:Sad to lose the Tevatron (5, Informative)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737186)

FWIW, earlier drafts of the paper were much more sensationalistic than the final draft that the collaboration approved. A large contingent of the collaboration, myself included, would have removed our names from the paper if it had done something as insane as claim discovery of a new particle. So, we specifically pushed to make the paper more scientifically honest and less effective as a "ploy to keep the funds flowing." That said, the NYT article and all the other mainstream news reports on the issue are far, far more sensationalistic than anything the analyzers ever even considered producing...

Some interesting things to note:

  • This search was done with a very tight event selection designed to get a relatively pure diboson sample. Loosening up the selection increases the number of data events involved in the analysis by (IIRC) about a factor of 8, and in this looser sample, the significance of the bump decreases to about 1 sigma, which is wholly uninteresting.
  • The feeling among the members of my particular group (one of the member institutions of the CDF collaboration) is that this is a very interesting result, but that it should be interpreted more as exposing the difficulties of / our inability to model the very large W+jets background accurately; the Monte Carlo generators are simply insufficient or are slightly incorrectly tuned. We do not really feel that this is likely to be an indication of new physics at all.

So, long story short, there is certainly something here to be interested in. Both the theorists who write the Monte Carlo generators and the experimentalists analyzing data from the LHC experiments are paying close attention to this result, as it affects their work. We will know more after further study and work, both to improve the Monte Carlos and to look for similar effects in the ATLAS and CMS data.

Desertron (3, Interesting)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736636)

Still kinda miss the Superconducting Super Collider [wikipedia.org] . Wonder if it could have produced results sooner.

Hardly a Result (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737212)

Wonder if it could have produced results sooner.

Finding a "suspicious bump" in the middle of a steeply falling distribution of events is hardly an exciting result unless it is confirmed. Bump hunting on exactly this sort of distribution is extremely hard to do. They barely have a 3 sigma deviation and, given the number of measurements made by the tevatron a 3 sigma deviation in one is not, perhaps, unexpected. If the other Tevatron experiment, D0, confirms the result then things will be more interesting...until then I remain highly unconvinced.

Re:Hardly a Result (3, Interesting)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737442)

D0 has done this same sort of analysis, and they do not see this bump. But, their background modeling procedure involves reweighting the expected distributions (from Monte Carlo) in delta R between the jets (sort of an angular separation between the jets), which is a variable that is strongly correlated with the dijet mass. That is, their background model would be expected to have a strong tendency to fill in a bump like this. Now, which model is more correct is open to question, but it is certainly true that whether or not this bump turns out to be from real new physics (unlikely, in my professional opinion), their procedure is almost guaranteed not to find it.

Death is the end of time. Consciousness is time. (-1, Offtopic)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736642)

And consciousness does not actually exist. Consciousness is an illusion.

Re:Death is the end of time. Consciousness is time (1)

kylemonger (686302) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736688)

It's early to be drinking.

Re:Death is the end of time. Consciousness is time (-1, Offtopic)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736758)

I said salvia not alcohol. Drinking wont allow you to experience and appreciate death.

Re:Death is the end of time. Consciousness is time (2)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736824)

I said salvia not alcohol. Drinking wont allow you to experience and appreciate death.

Spoken like a man who's never drunk himself to death.

Re:Death is the end of time. Consciousness is time (1)

ThunderBird89 (1293256) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736854)

You know what allows you to experience death by smoking it? Carbon monoxide, for example!

Re:Death is the end of time. Consciousness is time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35736938)

Awwww snap!

Re:Death is the end of time. Consciousness is time (3, Insightful)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736700)

Consciousness is an illusion.

Lunchtime doubly so.

Re:Death is the end of time. Consciousness is time (-1, Offtopic)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736776)

Prove that thoughts exist in physical reality, and are more real than the electrons flowing through your computer?
Prove that free will exists?

Or accept that thoughts are an illusion, and that free will never existed, and that you are as much of an automaton as any other computer.

Re:Death is the end of time. Consciousness is time (2)

Pinky's Brain (1158667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736872)

I can't, it's not part of my predestined thoughts :/

Re:Death is the end of time. Consciousness is time (2)

YodasEvilTwin (2014446) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736708)

Then shut up.

Satire, look it up. (-1, Troll)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736850)

And then die in a fire, k thnx.

And in your case... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35736760)

...doubly so.

Re:Death is the end of time. Blah blah (2)

Tyler Durden (136036) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737136)

Consciousness is an illusion.

A meaningless statement. In order for something to be considered an illusion you must consider the possibility that something can be deceived. And in order for that something to be deceived, it must be conscious.

Nothing really exists. (-1, Offtopic)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736668)

It's all just perceptions and thoughts in your brain. When you die, then it all ends. The universe is your life.

Re:Nothing really exists. (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736800)

So when all those other people die that means what Mr. Spammer? Which universe ends then? Take your anti-materialist nonsense to some place that cares.

Solipsism, look it up. (-1, Offtopic)

elucido (870205) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736830)

The only universe and only thoughts proven to exist are your own. And even these could be artificial intuition.

So if you aren't God, why believe someone else is?

Re:Solipsism, look it up. (1)

puppyfox (833883) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736910)

Reminds me of that joke "Oh, I always wanted to meet another solipsist!"

Re:Solipsism, look it up. (1)

halivar (535827) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737160)

The bus you don't see will still run your ass over.

Re:Nothing really exists. (2)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736880)

Ah, but does your brain exist? If not, then maybe the universe was never there to begin with.

I know it's petty... (1)

Deathnerd (1734374) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736678)

but dammit! Proper grammar is a godsend!

Use it! [theoatmeal.com]

Re:I know it's petty... (1)

mcmonkey (96054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736738)

"Physicists at Fermi Lab have found a 'suspicious bump' in there data that could indicate they've found a new elementary particle or even a new force of nature."

Where data?

Re:I know it's petty... (5, Funny)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736864)

"Physicists at Fermi Lab have found a 'suspicious bump' in that there data that could indicate they've found a new elementary particle or even a new force of nature."

Fixed

Re:I know it's petty... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35736996)

You owe me a monitor.

Re:I know it's petty... (1)

DanTheStone (1212500) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737162)

It's been a long time since I laughed at a grammar joke.

Re:I know it's petty... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737412)

Yeah, my Grammar tells bad jokes too. I guess her generation found them funny.

Re:I know it's petty... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35736906)

The 'suspicious bump' is a baby bump. One of the particles is pregnant.

Nathan

Fermi Lab May NOT Have Discovered +1, Good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35736680)

snot. It may be a particle or force; however, it's surprisingly painful until extracted.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

More Slashdot crap before its final demise.

Good riddance.

Yours In Washington,
Kilgore Trout, C.F.O.

Which is more likely . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35736682)

samzenpus doesn't know the difference between "there" and "their," or he just didn't read the summary at all?

ugh.. grammar and other thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35736722)

"Physicists at Fermi Lab have found a 'suspicious bump' in their data that could indicate they've found a new elementary particle or even a new force of nature."

I suck at grammar and I caught there != their. Fixed that for you.

And this is why research for the sake of research is a good thing.

kjb

Grammar (1)

poliscipirate (1636723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736754)

"a 'suspicious bump' in there data"

Sigh.

Re:Grammar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35736866)

should be "a 'suspicious bump' in that there data"

Yaay they found the Higgs Boson (1)

slackzilly (2033012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736766)

or possibly a huge bison

Re:Yaay they found the Higgs Boson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35736862)

Did it have the GPL exception?

Re:Yaay they found the Higgs Boson (1)

slackzilly (2033012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736970)

They dont even know what they have found yet. It's a bit early to think about that.

New? I don't think so! (1)

angiasaa (758006) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736782)

Either it's "Newly discovered", or it's really something that never existed before and is therefore "New". I think it unlikely that this is "New!".

Re:New? I don't think so! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737110)

No, you see the universe is just screwing with us. Since the accelerator was about to be shut down, and everyone was expecting to find the Higgs boson in the next few years, a strange new force was created, which rippled backward in time, leaving evidence of a new vector boson. Right now this is still new, in a few hundred years the ripple in the brane will reach so far into the "past" that it will have always existed.

Re:New? I don't think so! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737184)

Someone mod crap like this as troll. We really don't need these kinds of retards hanging out here.

It has now been named.... (4, Funny)

levell (538346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736852)

It shall henceforth be known as the pleaseExtendOurFunding-ion.

OK, I jest. On a more serious (but related) note, back in 2000, when the LEP at CERN was shutting down, there were possible "hints" of the Higgs' Boson and pleas to extend the running time (which were ultimately denied so that the LHC would not be delayed).

Re:It has now been named.... (1)

TheCRAIGGERS (909877) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736994)

And we never will know what might have come out it...

Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (4, Informative)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736884)

When I read things like "In about 250 times more cases than expected, the total energy of the jets clustered around a value of about 144 billion electron volts" I get nervous.

This is like saying that in a series of 1M coin tosses the sequence HTTHHTTTTHHTTHHH came up 100x more often than would be expected by chance. Does that mean that any particular sequence of 8 tosses should come up 1/65536th of the time, and this one came up 1/655th of the time, or does it mean that some random sequence of results should come up 100% of the time in a random series of 16 coin tosses, and we happened to pick the random series that came up the most often in that particular set of data?

If I mine a big set of data against 100 random hypothesis I'll be able to find about 5 that I can show to be true with 95% confidence, despite the fact that there is nothing really going on.

The real test is to come up with the hypothesis first, then collect the data.

Now, these guys are probably smart, and hopefully control for this. If you want to test for 100 hypotheses and REALLY have 95% confidence, then you need to target a confidence of 1-0.05^100 for each test - at least that is how I see it (being a complete novice at statistics).

Re:Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (5, Interesting)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737008)

They did take into account the look-elsewhere effect, as is standard in bump-search type papers. This bump has a 3.2 sigma significance _after_ the look-elsewhere significance reduction and other systematic uncertainties.

Re:Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737018)

While you raise an interesting point, I'm inclined to believe you're attempting to apply today's XKCD lesson at the first available opportunity.

Re:Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737020)

I am going to guess that as a self-admitted novice at statistics you may be worrying about some t-crossing and i-dotting they have already accounted for.

Re:Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737026)

But when you are a lab in need of new funding to avoid shutdown, 250 events is suddenly a lot more significant!
Amazing how many amazing "possible" discoveries have come out of Fermilab lately while very few did for many years...

Re:Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (2)

aethogamous (935390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737058)

10,000 collisions

expected number of weird collisions ~ 1

probability of seeing 250 or more weird collisions ~ 1E-1140

That should be enough to take care of most multiple testing issues.

Re:Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737328)

You seem to have pulled those numbers from nowhere....

Re:Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (1)

aethogamous (935390) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737560)

10,000 from

"A new analysis of 10,000 proton-antiproton collisions..."

1 and 250 from

"showed a weird result a couple hundred times ..." and "In about 250 times more cases than expected..."

Looking at the paper it appears these two numbers are more like 150 and 0.6, which gives 1E-722, so my guesses were only off by about 400 orders of magnitude in the result... Of course this is not how one would really analyze such data, but it is enough to suggest that multiple testing issues are not going to be a major issue.

"these guys are probably smart" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737098)

Yeah, that's a good guess. Probably smarter than any douche second-guessing their work on a third-rate tech blog.

Re:Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737134)

You're discarding the fact it's science, and you use bad statistics in your analogy of tossing a coin.

Even if you were to calculate the probability of the particular sequence of tosses you mentioned (which itself has a 1/65,536 chance itself of occurring in a 16-set string of tosses, which can possibly occur 999,985 possible times in 1 million tosses, for a total of 999,985/63,536 or 15.259 [15] times out of a million tosses - which would itself be 1500 for 100x, 15:1500 or 100x is a VERY significant deviation from you're expected results) they haven't run nearly 1 million times unless you count each particle in mass collisions, which really can't be considered as a mere consideration of noise.

You make armchair physicists look bad, go back to writing sloppy code with you're CS major.

Re:Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (1)

jon42689 (1098973) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737366)

You make armchair physicists look bad, go back to writing sloppy code with you're CS major.

"...you're" CS major... And what are you, my friend? An English major? I should hope not.

Re:Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (5, Informative)

radtea (464814) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737210)

The real test is to come up with the hypothesis first, then collect the data.

That's not the way the vast majority of science is done. Popper was a philosopher speaking in ignorance (but I repeat myself).

The challenge for these guys is not in the hypothesis testing, but in the cuts. You have to come up with some set of criteria for selecting "good" events in complex detectors of this kind. There is always a degree of arbitrariness in how you do that, and there have been cases in the past (the so-called 'GSI particle') where people tweaked and tuned multi-dimensional cuts to maximize peaks in the data.

In the present case it is clear their cuts are physics-based--they are described in the paper--and that the peak structure is consistent with the resolution one would expect (the GSI particle required some very weird physics to make the narrow peak widths plausible.)

However, the peak is also precisely in the region where their background spectra are varying most rapidly, and this is a huge red flag. It makes them sensitive to any number of minor mis-calibrations. It does NOT mean the phenomenon is not real, but if I had to make a bet on it being physics beyond the standard model or an instrumental artefact, my money would not be on new physics.

Re:Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737298)

I don't agree with your analogy. Given 16 coin tosses and any length 8 sequence, you'd expect the sequence to appear 8/2^8 = 1/32 of the time. (Simulate it if you don't believe me; proving it is boring statistics.) In general a length k subsequence of a length n sequence of coin tosses appears (n-k)/2^k times. Replace 2 with s if the coin has s sides.

Anywho, I interpret the bit you quoted as saying "our theory's predicted probability distributions have an expected value for 'energy jet clustering about 144 GeV' to be 1/250th of the observed average, and the variance is small enough that this is very highly improbable". There's no mention of trying lots of hypotheses, only the implication that the standard model predictions do not match up to observation. There are several explanatory hypotheses ("new brand of Z boson", "heavy version of a gluon") but they seem to be after-the-fact attempts to explain the discrepancy. Verifying the result by repeating it, preferably at another lab with another team, is important since particle physics experiments are extremely sensitive to error--for instance, the 144 GeV mentioned in the article is about 0.000000023 Joules, and your computer consumes hundreds of Joules per second while running.

Note that IANAPP (particle physicist), though I'm sure one day I'll at least read a technical book on the standard model. I've picked up a small amount of it over the years, and I have an interest in some advanced physics.

Re:Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (3, Funny)

Njoyda Sauce (211180) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737376)

Oblig XKCD: http://xkcd.com/882/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Do they account for hypothesis-mining? (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737420)

The real test is to come up with the hypothesis first, then collect the data.

The hypothesis came first. The hypothesis is, "A cluster of jet events with close energies indicates the presence of a particle with a certain mass" -- this method has been used time and again to detect new particles and is nothing new. This is just another instance of the same. If you take issue with the idea, you're pretty much going against reality because this is how new particles are, and have been, identified.

You can quibble about statistical margins and what not, but this is not an instance of seeing something weird then grasping at straws to explain it. In the past, the explanation of such "bumps" has often been the presence of a new kind of particle.

What to call it? (2)

durrr (1316311) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736930)

Did we finally find the Unstoppable Force?

Re:What to call it? (1)

burisch_research (1095299) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737352)

Er they're pulling the funding, hellooooo ? It'll be stopped soon enough.

Re:What to call it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737374)

We already have that in the form of Neutrinos.

We call it the "Screw your shit, I'm passing anyway" Force.
That is one MEAN force.

Re:What to call it? (1)

mldi (1598123) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737380)

Yeah, it's called Charlie Sheen.

A useful link (5, Informative)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#35736956)

...to the paper [arxiv.org] , as opposed to the commentary by PopSci on the article written by NYT by someone who really didn't know what the hell they were talking about.

Re:A useful link (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737344)

And a link to the lecture set to go live in an hour on it:
http://vms-db-srv.fnal.gov/fmi/xsl/VMS_Site_2/000Return/video/r_livelogicindex.xsl?&-recid=573&-find=
(posted AC, you dirty karma whore)

force or particle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737082)

Until it's figured out, let's call it a "farticle".

Re:force or particle? (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737286)

All I want to know is, can you light one of them on fire?

Dark Matter... (1)

DarthVain (724186) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737338)

No No No... I'll call it a superfluid... yeah that's sounds cool! Puff Puff Puff!

Ya new funding, time to go get some Cheetos!

To Fund or Not to Fund (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35737362)

"This discovery comes as the Tevatron is slated to go offline sometime in September."

Given the looming Friday government shutdown and any deals concocted between
the two (or three?) opposed sides, the shutdown could come much, much earlier.

Hypothesis mining? Try job security! (0)

ChronoFish (948067) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737466)

"...Lab have found a 'suspicious bump' in their data that ***could*** indicate they've found a new elementary particle....This discovery comes as the Tevatron is slated to go offline sometime in September...."

How convenient.

-CF

Didn't we see this article 5 days ago? (1)

Ruvim (889012) | more than 3 years ago | (#35737490)

It also mentioned that discovery was made by a highschooler or something... [slashdot.org]
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