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Rumors of Higgs Boson Discovery At LHC

samzenpus posted about 3 years ago | from the maybe-maybe-not dept.

Science 225

Magnifico writes "LiveScience is reporting that scientists are abuzz over a controversial rumor that the 'God particle' has been detected by a particle-detection experiment at LHC at CERN. The Higgs boson rumor is based on what appears to be a leaked internal note from physicists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), a 17-mile-long particle accelerator near Geneva, Switzerland. It's not entirely clear at this point if the memo is authentic... The buzz started when an anonymous commenter recently posted an abstract of the note on Columbia University mathematician Peter Woit's blog, Not Even Wrong. This could be a flat-out hoax or a statistical anomaly or... confirmation of the particle that bestows mass on all the other particles."

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225 comments

Higgs boson has arisen? (3, Funny)

3seas (184403) | about 3 years ago | (#35920744)

It is easter..... and it is a rumor too!

Re:Higgs boson has arisen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35920874)

Yeah, they've just discovered the easter bunny, and he's pissed: http://inthenameofmovies.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/500full-donnie-darko-poster.jpg

Re:Higgs boson has arisen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921468)

It is easter...

Happy Zombie Jesus day to you too...

Can't be (4, Interesting)

The_Wilschon (782534) | about 3 years ago | (#35920780)

If this is what I was hearing about at work on Friday (I'm a particle physicist), then it can't be the Higgs. The rate of production is too high by a factor of 40.

Re:Can't be (2)

Mikkeles (698461) | about 3 years ago | (#35920792)

It's a miracle!

Re:Can't be (1)

outsider007 (115534) | about 3 years ago | (#35920854)

No it's witchcraft!

Re:Can't be (4, Funny)

TheDarkPassenger (1840942) | about 3 years ago | (#35920962)

Does it weigh more than a duck?

Re:Can't be (4, Funny)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 years ago | (#35921638)

it has one duck-mass, neutral buoyancy, comprised of three quacks which break echo symmetry, and decays by moulting.

Re:Can't be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921154)

Perhaps the theory is wrong? It has been know to happen.

Re:Can't be (1)

The_Wilschon (782534) | about 3 years ago | (#35922014)

Well, if the theory is wrong, then something else is right, and this still isn't the Higgs, but something else instead.

get ready for anti gravity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35920806)

with knowing how such a particle works one could rmeove gravity from other particle thus really doing neat things with stuff.

It's little more than speculation (3, Interesting)

ndogg (158021) | about 3 years ago | (#35920816)

This isn't the first time this has happened. I don't know why this particular event is getting so much attention.

That said, one of the things that's exciting about this is that they are detecting it at higher energies than were expected by the Standard Model, which would mean that a few laws of physics might have to be rewritten. I love it when that happens. It's so boring when everything just falls into place where expected.

Oh, by the way, the new season of Doctor Who. There was something I wanted to mention about it. I just can't remember what it was. It's like on the tip of my tongue.

Re:It's little more than speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35920830)

Amy Pond is hawt!

Re:It's little more than speculation (1)

jpapon (1877296) | about 3 years ago | (#35920858)

Meh, she's at best a 7.

Re:It's little more than speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35920974)

This is /. If it moves then it's good enough for us.

Re:It's little more than speculation (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921208)

This numbered rating shit by men needs to stop.

Next you'll be asking us to come over for a pyjama party to criticised her looks in detail.

There's only one rating system that's right and proper for men to use:

[ ] Would

[ ] Would not

Re:It's little more than speculation (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 3 years ago | (#35921606)

no, that rating system is too coarse. there are much finer graduations possible such as

[] would if a bag was over her head
[] would drink her bath water
[] would scare a hound dog off a meat truck

Re:It's little more than speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35922300)

no, she's best at 11 PM. Or at even later (adult) programming.

Re:It's little more than speculation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35920930)

RTFAbstract, it says 115 GeV, which is perfect for the SM. It is just above the exclusion Limit set by LEP2

The big difference to the SM is the rate, which is much higher than expected, and thus would mean, there is a heavy BSM particle involved in the decay.

Re:It's little more than speculation (2)

Livius (318358) | about 3 years ago | (#35921268)

"heavy BSM" makes me think "Bowling Spaghetti Monster", but I'm guessing it's actually some physicist jargon.

Re:It's little more than speculation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921446)

BSM stands for Beyond the Standard Model.

Re:It's little more than speculation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921534)

"heavy BSM" makes me think "Bowling Spaghetti Monster", but I'm guessing it's actually some physicist jargon.'

Sorry fool, the scientific term is "Bowel Stretching Movement". Geez... get a clue.

Re:It's little more than speculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921650)

"heavy BSM" makes me think "Bowling Spaghetti Monster", but I'm guessing it's actually some physicist jargon.

Is there a light SM? [xkcd.com]

Re:It's little more than speculation (4, Interesting)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 3 years ago | (#35921040)

This isn't the first time this has happened. I don't know why this particular event is getting so much attention.

Because the LHC has been created, and funded, largely by "selling" the Higgs as a super-special "God particle".

In fact it's nothing at all different than any one of the other particles in the standard model that were predicted and later found. Well, one difference, there are no other particles left in the SM, so if you want to have a job, you have to make sure someone thinks it's worth spending a few billion on.

Re:It's little more than speculation (2)

Candid88 (1292486) | about 3 years ago | (#35921074)

If you have a better idea for determining the structure of the universe then please let us hear it.

Re:It's little more than speculation (1, Troll)

AntiDoto (1921914) | about 3 years ago | (#35921152)

If you have a better idea for determining the structure of the universe then please let us hear it.

How about this? [wikipedia.org]

Re:It's little more than speculation (1)

Thiez (1281866) | about 3 years ago | (#35921240)

Assuming we all believe that book is completely reliable and true, it still doesn't tell us anything about how the universe works. Surely even the most devout Christian would have to admit that when it comes to examining the building blocks of the (physical) universe, a particle accelerator such as the LHC is more useful than a bible?

Re:It's little more than speculation (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | about 3 years ago | (#35921416)

I assume the grandparent of this post was written to point out, through the use of irony, how there really are no viable alternatives.

Re:It's little more than speculation (1)

Thiez (1281866) | about 3 years ago | (#35921530)

That seems rather redundant, given that the post he replied to made the exact same point.

Re:It's little more than speculation (1)

Sique (173459) | about 3 years ago | (#35921372)

The Bible does not contain a single word about the structure of the Universe. It just assumes that the Universe is there, and we will find out how it works by looking at it.

Actually, it does (0)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 3 years ago | (#35921734)

It says that the light was separated from the darkness, an obvious reference to the splitting of the Universe into the parts that do, and do not, interact with em radiation. The Bible predicts dark energy and dark matter*

*No, of course it doesn't.

Re:It's little more than speculation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921840)

Uh, turtles, duh?

Re:It's little more than speculation (2)

icebraining (1313345) | about 3 years ago | (#35921582)

Because the LHC has been created, and funded, largely by "selling" the Higgs as a super-special "God particle".

Was it? From what I can tell that's only how the media presented the LHC after it was almost/already built. As far as I could find, the news about the budget approvals in '97 don't even mention the Higgs, but other experiments.

Re:It's little more than speculation (1)

sjames (1099) | about 3 years ago | (#35921856)

They could have built it in the U.S. as long as they added a magnetized shaving mirror so they could shoot down Russian^WChinese^WNorth Korean^W^Wterrorist spy satellites.

Non news (1)

JamesP (688957) | about 3 years ago | (#35920826)

Let's at least wait for the darn thing to be published.

And knowing how things go in scientific circles it will probably go like this:

Tevatron publishes a 3ð experiment and later refines it to 5ð "controversial, nothing, fluke"
LHC publishes a 3ð experiment that may be Higgs but with wrong mass, charge and color: "OMG Higgs was discovered"

Re:Non news (1)

JamesP (688957) | about 3 years ago | (#35920832)

Ok, darn I mean not ð

Re:Non news (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 years ago | (#35920908)

Heh, you didn't think you could use the sigma sign on slashdot did you? News for nerds, where scientific notation is frowned upon.

Re:Non news (1)

JamesP (688957) | about 3 years ago | (#35920942)

Yeah, maybe we have to write it in Latex notation: \sigma

Re:Non news (1)

Kjella (173770) | about 3 years ago | (#35921102)

Nah, if it was possible you'd use the HTML entity. Many are allowed, just not that one. Examples:

&gt: >
&lt: <
&aelig: æ
&oslash: ø
&aring: å

However:
&sigma:

In fact, none of the greek letters will work. Or pretty much anything else from maths etc.

Re:Non news (1)

jamesh (87723) | about 3 years ago | (#35921010)

They've tried this trick with political policy... "lets leak some possible future policies and see what the reaction is...". Now the scientists are at it too!

MASS EFFECT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35920886)

So basically if we discover the particle that gives mass, then we figure out how to manipulate the particle that gives mass, does that mean we get mass effect drives? Because that would be AWESOME.

Please stop with the 'god particle' ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35920894)

Seriously....

Re:Please stop with the 'god particle' ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35920960)

But if it were to be found on Easter, then it would be proof that God created everything!

More detail for non-scientists (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35920910)

The Higgs-Boson is a predicted but until now unobserved particle (entity smaller than an atom) that is expected to have high mass.

The problem is that detection of this particle is very costly, involving a particle accelerator the length of nearly 35 football fields and a matching scale beneath it. Other particles are crammed together with great force many times per second using this accelerator, and if a heavy Higgs-Boson particle is created, the building weighs a little more than normally expected for a short time.

As you might have guessed, any sort of event that causes things to weigh slightly more or less, such as tectonic plate movement, tidal forces, or the rising of the sun must be anticipated and corrected for lest the system produces a false positive. A false positive is an ion (or particle) that looks positive at first, but is actually not. This leads to the occasional and premature celebration of the discovery of the Higgs-Boson, which is why this story is currently considered a rumor.

Re:More detail for non-scientists (1)

bunratty (545641) | about 3 years ago | (#35922148)

Can't tell if you're a troll or just misinformed. In any case, the story about how we detect it by whether is causes things to get heavier is BS. We detect it like any other heavy, short-lived particle -- by examining the particles that it decays into.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35920916)

In the year 2011, scientists at Switzerland discovered the remains of an ancient particle. In the decades that followed, these mysterious particles revealed startling new technologies, enabling travel to the furthest stars. The basis for this incredible technology was a force that controlled the very fabric of space and time. They called it the greatest discovery in human history. The civilizations of the galaxy call it... MASS EFFECT.

Re:Hmm (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 years ago | (#35922552)

NOT! Everyone knows the Sol system mass relay will be detected by a Nasa probe in 2039 when they finally go and take a look at Pluto and discover it's moon is not a natural formation but some kind of alien device encased in a ball of dirty ice.

Higgs discovery is the long awaited blockbuster. (5, Funny)

JoeThoughtful (1945502) | about 3 years ago | (#35920926)

Strange how such a small rumor has so quickly acquired such large mass.

Re:Higgs discovery is the long awaited blockbuster (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921618)

isn't it meant to be the essence of mass?...

Re:Higgs discovery is the long awaited blockbuster (1)

JamesP (688957) | about 3 years ago | (#35922150)

Yeah, it spontaneously broke the symmetry between certainty and attention drawn. Or maybe it didn't.

Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (4, Insightful)

Nailer235 (1822054) | about 3 years ago | (#35920954)

Discovering the Higgs Boson would be a huge confirmation of the Standard Model, but it seems like the only reason popular culture cares about it is because of its stupid nickname. Can we just agree to stop calling it "The God Particle?"

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (-1, Flamebait)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | about 3 years ago | (#35920996)

Well we are at it lets remove "god" mode from Quake. If just the word god offends you, you are a sad pathetic little man. We need a tolerance school for people like you. Why don't you just call it the atheist particle in your head and then you can be happy.

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921052)

If you are offended by other people being offended, why don't you just ... ahhh, crap... I got nothing

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (2)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about 3 years ago | (#35921108)

Holy fuck, settle down. Get the stick out of your ass.

It's not that god is an offensive label, it's simply that it's a misleading label. There's nothing godly about the higgs-boson. Calling it the god particle is really little different than calling coffee the god drink. Yeah, not a whole lot of justification for it, is there? Go crawl back under your rock. You don't even understand why it was mislabeled the god particle in the first place, nor why the label is misleading, not even what any of this even means. You just heard someone say something less than positive about something labeled "god" and got fucking self-righteously offended. Fucking pathetic.

I'm going to start calling my car the God Vehicle, AND IF YOU DISAGREE YOU ARE NAUGHT BUT A GODLESS WRETCH AND I WILL SMITE YOU WITH MY HOLY CONVEYANCE.

Please. Get the fuck out.

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (0)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | about 3 years ago | (#35921304)

Well at least I don't resort to threatening people. Threatening to "smite" someone with your automobile is most likely a criminal offense where you live. So please put the stick back in your ass so you can stop spewing your diarrhea everywhere.

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 3 years ago | (#35922226)

I'm offended by you implying that the evil supreme being I worship - and, in truth, vast majority of humans / the Demiurge (and more [kyon.pl] : revelations in zima post, faster to link that way ;p ) just keeps them in the darkness, for its own means - isn't a god.

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921362)

Well you are at it, learn to spell, godtard.

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (5, Funny)

heptapod (243146) | about 3 years ago | (#35921046)

Indeed, it's just the Jesus Particle. It decayed for your sins and on the third day became Americanium 237.

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921960)

Would that not become Judasium?

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35922452)

I prefer the "demiurge Particle", because, y'know, it might be composed of even smaller and more fundamental particles...

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (2)

modmans2ndcoming (929661) | about 3 years ago | (#35921228)

But it is proof of the existence of an un-seen all powerful being who cares enough about our individual ant like lives to bestow special dispensations upon us just for asking... and he tests our faith in him by repeatedly ignoring our righteous worship and punishing us with natural disasters.

The scientists said so... it is called the God Particle after all.

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35922398)

Goddamn Particle. The name got shortened for PC reasons.

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (1)

ukemike (956477) | about 3 years ago | (#35921552)

Discovering the Higgs Boson would be a huge confirmation of the Standard Model, but it seems like the only reason popular culture cares about it is because of its stupid nickname. Can we just agree to stop calling it "The God Particle?"

Actually it's much more simple and innocent than than. The LHC was built to find the Higgs Boson. It's the biggest, most powerful, fastest, and most costly physics experiment EVAR! We (popular culture) love a success story. We love the drama of rumored success and possible abject failure. It's the drama that is exciting. Among the better educated non-physicists we are also aware that the existence of the HB would be a big confirmation of the current theory, and the absence will be a huge puzzle. How could we not be hanging on the edges of our seats. Give people a little credit.

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (2)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | about 3 years ago | (#35921598)

It's even worse: some religious nuts are against the LHC, because they think that the point of finding the Higgs boson is to prove/disprove the existence of God (hence, "The God particle"). It's stupid and shifts the spotlight from the actual cool science they are doing.

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | about 3 years ago | (#35922100)

Riiiight. because the religious nuts who are against the LHC because it's trying to prove/disprove the existence of God would be fascinated by the "cool science" if we just called the particle something else.

Re:Stop Calling it "The God Particle" (4, Funny)

JamesP (688957) | about 3 years ago | (#35922140)

Let's call it the HFCS particle, since it makes everything heavy...

God says... (1)

Trivial Solutions (1724416) | about 3 years ago | (#35921116)

Foul mystically forenoon sobriety petitions slowly contact
appropriated FTP banter element ensuing rioting worldly
mazes Didst terrible youthful wilfully delightsome life
purposed relied imaginary tender obscure total excited

Actual quote from the Higgs (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921134)

“The reports of my existence are greatly exaggerated”

Re:Actual quote from the Higgs (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 3 years ago | (#35921576)

Pretty sure Higgs exists - he was up on stage receiving an honorary professorship right before I was awarded my PhD...

I've read the internal note (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921214)

Someone left a copy of the note on the printer in my office building. (I work on CDF at Fermilab, but there are others in the building who work on ATLAS at CERN.) The gist of the article is that they found a bump in the diphoton mass spectrum at a mass of ~115 GeV. If the Higgs exists, it is expected to produce a bump in that spectrum, and 115 GeV is a very probable value for the mass of the Higgs. (Experiments at LEP ruled out masses up to 114 GeV, but a mass as low as possible above that fits best with other measurements.)

Now, the inconsistencies: The bump that they found is ~30 times as large as the Higgs mass peak is expected to be. However, due to field theory that I don't want to get into here, the Higgs peak in this spectrum could be larger than expected if there exist new, heavy particles that we haven't discovered yet. The latest published result from CDF sets a limit of about 30 times the expected rate at 115 GeV in the diphoton channel. (Yes, this means that, if you're optimistic enough, there's just enough wiggle room to fit a Higgs in there while accommodating both measurements.)

The internal note is very preliminary and uses a crude background estimate; I'll have to see a more thorough analysis before I make any judgment on it. We shouldn't have to wait very long; I expect that after this leak, they'll be working overtime to push out a full published result as soon as possible.

Re:I've read the internal note (3, Informative)

bmuon (1814306) | about 3 years ago | (#35921770)

Yup, further analysis is needed to confirm it is the Higgs or something completely new. The Resonaances blog [blogspot.com] has good speculation cover as usual.

Wait what? (1)

RenHoek (101570) | about 3 years ago | (#35921364)

So we've got a Schrödinger memo here.. It is, could be or isn't, but in the end nobody knows what the fuck.. :)

Re:Wait what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921844)

So we've got a Schrödinger memo here.. It is, could be or isn't, but in the end nobody knows what the fuck.. :)

All you need is to open the box.

Re:Wait what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35922000)

Couldn't you just smell the box?

The "God Particle" has a sense of humor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35921630)

  It will be showing itself randomly just to screw with those annoying physicists that keep trying to disturb it. Let's just hope it doesn't get mad.

Could everyone stop taking about it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#35922074)

Seriously it's not science until it's reproducible. They don't detect just one particle, they detect multiple. Then they need to repeat it again and detect a similar number of events in the same amount of time. Then they optimize conditions and make a better detector now that they know what to look for. And then they change conditions such as doing it six months later on the opposite end of the earths orbit. A new particle takes six months to a year for initial confirmation.

Also if it's real.. it isn't the higgs as we have predicted so it's essentially a new particle somewhat similar to the higgs although I'm sure it will probably still end up being called that considering what has been spent if it all pans out.

Higgs-Boson particle walks into a church... (4, Funny)

rueger (210566) | about 3 years ago | (#35922434)

Priest says "Hey! You're not allowed in here!"

HB says "Oh yeah? Without me you've got no mass!"

Buh-duh_boomph... I'm here all week...
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