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LHC To Narrow Search For Higgs Boson

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the maybe-it's-with-all-those-moon-rocks dept.

Science 99

New submitter mraudigy sends this quote from Physorg: "CERN scientists say their data from two main experiments using CERN's $10-billion Large Hadron Collider under the Swiss-French border will be made public next Tuesday, but any firm discovery will have to wait until next year. They say the data helps narrow the region of the search because it excludes some of the higher energy ranges where the Higgs boson might be found, and shows some intriguing possibilities involving a small number of 'events' at the lower energy ranges."

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99 comments

Physics (1)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319128)

You know what, it's pretty damn cool.

Re:Physics (4, Funny)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319286)

actually at the energies involved it is pretty damn hot.

Re:Physics (2)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319634)

I dunno. An electronvolt is about 1.6 x 10^-19 J, which means a teraelectronvolt is still only 1.6 x 10^-7 J, which Wikipedia helpfully says is the kinetic energy of a flying mosquito (the bug kind, not the WW2 aircraft). The energy of a mosquito, distributed over the entire collision chamber, doesn't seem to be a lot.

Re:Physics (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319730)

But but but but...what if it is an effing MASSIVE ROOM-SIZED MOSQUITO?!

Re:Physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38319862)

... And then compare the relative size of a mosquito to what they are actually firing in the tubes

Who can do a car comparison?

Re:Physics (2)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320804)

It's like comparing a truck and a mosquito sitting on the road in front if it.

Re:Physics (3, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320028)

That's the kinetic energy of a flying mosquito per proton. The whole beam is supposed to have the kinetic energy of an aircraft carrier.

But you're thinking heat. Temperature is different. According to the conversion on Wikipedia, 1 TeV is just over one thousand trillion degrees. That's pretty hot.

Re:Physics (1)

Mick R (932337) | more than 2 years ago | (#38323146)

The whole beam is supposed to have the kinetic energy of an aircraft carrier.

So when can we expect this in a hand held, beam weapon form? Or should we just be welcoming our new mosquito overlords?

Re:Physics (3, Funny)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38323328)

Well, the LHC is currently 27 km in circumference and uses something like 120 MW, all in. So there is some work to do on miniaturization and battery technology before the hand held model is available.

Re:Physics (1)

mattcasters (67972) | more than 2 years ago | (#38324402)

Ah, "one" thousand trillion degrees. Is that degrees Kelvin, Celsius or Fahrenheit?

Re:Physics (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#38325582)

Nobody uses Fahrenheit for scientific stuff. Kelvin doesn't have degrees. So it's Celsius, although the difference between Kelvin and Celsius is negligible OVER 9000!!!!

Re:Physics (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38331594)

Take your pick. There's enough rounding in there that the difference between Kelvin and degrees C is irrelevant. True, it didn't strike me that anyone might think it was in Fahrenheit. Nor any of the other weird old temperature scales.

Re:Physics (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38324778)

actually at the energies involved it is pretty damn hot.

The motion of the particles in the beam is mostly collimated, so doesn't count as thermal energy. To be considered "thermal" energy, it's the random motion of the particles about the object's centre of mass that is considered, not the net motion of the particles as a whole.

Consider this thought experiment : prepare a couple of Dewar flasks, one filled with liquid helium at a couple of Kelvin, and the other containing liquid zinc at about 600K. Sitting on the bench in the lab, they have their particular temperatures. Now, I put them onto a plane and accelerate them to 1000km/kr in some direction. Does the helium heat up? I slow the plane down ; does the zinc freeze?

Just because it's well understood science, doesn't mean that thermodynamics is either easy or self-evident.

Re:Physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38324880)

1/T=dS/dU (where volume is kept fixed) right?

Re:Physics (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#38333814)

Temperature, entropy and something else - I understand the physics, but I don't know the mathematical conventions. "U" standing for total energy of the system?

Re:Physics (1)

CtownNighrider (1443513) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327636)

Nope they just travel through time a bit slower.

Re:Physics (2)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319424)

Yes, but I think this announcement is that "we haven't found anything." The positive spin is that "this is exciting because now there are fewer places to look."

Re:Physics (2)

Snotman (767894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319578)

Maybe we haven't identified all the places to look in our limited understanding of nature. So, sure we have axed a few "known" anthropomorphic places, but maybe we don't know WTF anyway. Socrates would say that we know nothing and this is really a search for nothing. For instance, what if the effect we attribute to a particle is responsible when hundreds of particles interact in aggregate? Maybe this is all being handled, but one particle to rule them all seems like it is an idea out of fantasy.

Re:Physics (5, Insightful)

andre.david (1373517) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320168)

For instance, what if the effect we attribute to a particle is responsible when hundreds of particles interact in aggregate? Maybe this is all being handled, but one particle to rule them all seems like it is an idea out of fantasy.

We understand different things at different levels. And when we do not have some fundamental understanding, we build what we call effective theories. It may very well be that the Higgs boson is composed of other particles. Even if it is, this entity has a role in interactions, which is not diminished whether it is composite or fundamental.

Take the atom. It was indivisible for a long long time. Then we figured out there was a nucleus, 99.9% empty space and electrons. Then the nucleus turned out to have protons and neutrons. And then it turned out that protons and neutrons are made of quarks and gluons.

At each level, we can have a working tool that explains to a good level of accuracy what is happening at that level. Take the example of gravity: Newton's laws work for 99% of what we do. There is no need to go for Special or General Relativity until you really consider gravity in scales which are not human: galaxies, etc.

So, no one is looking for a particle to rule them all. And no one is claiming that we have finally reached a final understanding of matter. Or energy.
In fact, finding the Higgs boson predicted by the Standard Model would fill in a piece in the puzzle, but not finish all puzzles.

Re:Physics (1)

fsckmnky (2505008) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320828)

+1

Re:Physics (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38322812)

You should look up what anthropomorphic means, or sometime try searching the web for "anthropomorphic fantasy" as you've used in other posts. You might be mixing up anthropocentric and anthropomorphic.

And all the "Is it real?" stuff on a deeper level is outside the realm of science. If two descriptions are physically indistinguishable, science won't differentiate between them and picking one or the other is a matter of what is easier to work with or for pedagogical purposes. What scientists assume about the world around them being real or not is on par with what any person assumes in order to actually be functional. Although there is probably a higher chance of them having sat in an intro philosophy or philosophy of science course that goes into a lot more depth than posts to this story have so far.

Re:Physics (2)

XiaoMing (1574363) | more than 2 years ago | (#38323432)

Maybe we haven't identified all the places to look in our limited understanding of nature. So, sure we have axed a few "known" anthropomorphic places, but maybe we don't know WTF anyway. Socrates would say that we know nothing and this is really a search for nothing. For instance, what if the effect we attribute to a particle is responsible when hundreds of particles interact in aggregate? Maybe this is all being handled, but one particle to rule them all seems like it is an idea out of fantasy.

I'm sorry, but blindly applying the zeroth order concept of epistemology and then namedropping Socrates really doesn't give you the pass to blindly comment on something that you can't remotely grasp...

Re:Physics (4, Interesting)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319586)

Not finding the higgs may be the most exciting thing the LHC does. Finding it will be boring.

Re:Physics (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38319972)

Well, yes.

Finding the Higgs boson would confirm current models. Not finding it opens up for a possibility that the universe is even more interesting than previously thought.

Re:Physics (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320802)

If they do find it, I will look for your post calling it "boring."

Heh (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338580)

It is almost as boring as a huge discovery that shapes an entire area of knowledge can be. The only except is that we'll know the actual mass.

Re:Physics (3, Insightful)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321832)

Yeah except then we'll have to re-design physics. That would be a huge pain in the ass! It mostly worked for us, except for that ONE THING those guys couldn't find. But nope, going to have to throw it all out and re-design it!

Re:Physics (1)

CtownNighrider (1443513) | more than 2 years ago | (#38327678)

That doesn't sound like fun to you? "Scientists love mystery, they love not knowing" -Lawrence Krauss

Re:Physics (1)

andre.david (1373517) | more than 2 years ago | (#38324134)

The positive spin is that "this is exciting because now there are fewer places to look."

You call that spin? I call it scientific advance. Is there anything else you can do with science other than exclude hypothesis? Before the LHC, the Higgs boson could not exist below 114 (let me gloss over the units) nor between 150 to 170 or so.

The last results from the LHC excluded it from 140 to more than 500. That means that any theory predicting a Higgs boson in that range just went out the window.

Let's see what comes up on the 13th.

Re:Physics (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 2 years ago | (#38328672)

One of the first things we were taught in undergrad physics was that reporting negative results was a perfectly valid and valuable thing to do.

Time to check again (5, Funny)

residieu (577863) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319198)

It's been awhile since I've checked. hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com [hasthelarg...rldyet.com] Looks like we're still safe.

Re:Time to check again (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319460)

It's been awhile since I've checked.

You haven't added the atom feed [hasthelarg...rldyet.com] ?

Re:Time to check again (2)

disccomp (1454521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319528)

Ha ha, Viewing the source code is even funnier: if (!(typeof worldHasEnded == "undefined")) { document.write("YUP."); } else { document.write("NOPE."); }

Re:Time to check again (1)

thedonger (1317951) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319858)

Ha ha, Viewing the source code is even funnier: if (!(typeof worldHasEnded == "undefined")) { document.write("YUP."); } else { document.write("NOPE."); }

That code obviously isn't peer reviewed. Shouldn't it say if(!(typeof theWorld == "undefined")) ...? The variable worldHasEnded will require updating to indicate that it has ended, which will be impossible once it actually ends.

Re:Time to check again (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320034)

I'm sure some divine spaghetti entity will take care to flip the variable on the way out.

Re:Time to check again (1)

disccomp (1454521) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320198)

Dropping the double negative and adding while loop would be nice, but browsers appear to lockup when you loop continually. theWorld = 1; while(typeof theWorld != 'undefined') { document.getElementByID('main').innerHTML = 'NOPE'...

Re:Time to check again (1)

Rhodri Mawr (862554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321572)

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who opened the page and immediately looked at the source. You missed the comment at the bottom of the source:

<!-- if the lhc actually destroys the earth & this page isn't yet updated
please email mike@frantic.org to receive a full refund -->

Re:Time to check again (3, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321670)

Your source is always going to be behind. A much better source is to just check the live feed fromt he LHC. http://www.lhc-live.com/ [lhc-live.com]

scientists can be as bad as religion (-1, Troll)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319260)

coming up with wacky ideas to collect & consume HUGE sums of money, at least science comes up with something good on occasion but the LHC is not one of them

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319332)

the LHC is a great idea, and is giving us insight to how the universe works.

IT's not a waste of money.

Sciecen is not a religion.

to Quote Tim Minchin:

Science adjusts its views
Based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation,
so that belief can be preserved.

That why science can not be a religion.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhGuXCuDb1U [youtube.com]

Until you can grasp that, please don't think you can sit at the adult table.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (2)

jfengel (409917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319648)

Totally with you on the "not a religion". That's a dumb meme.

As for "not of waste of money", I'd call that "not proven", at least in the case of the LHC. Maybe yes, maybe no. Worth the gamble, in my opinion, though it's close. $9 billion buys an awful lot of research into, say, batteries or cancer treatment.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338244)

What makes you think that what we learn from the LHC won't have an application in batteries and cancer treatment? If it weren't for seemingly pointless study of quantum mechanics, none of us would have computers or electronics, and batteries and cancer treatments would be feeble in comparison to what we have now. Understanding fundamental physics underpins absolutely everything we do. I would say that it's impossible for the LHC to be a waste of money, and further that anything else you chose to spend that $9billion on would return a pittance in comparison to the rewards we'll reap from what we're certain to learn with this thing, Higgs boson or none.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338284)

What makes you think that what we learn from the LHC won't have an application in batteries and cancer treatment?

What makes you think that my intensive study of my navel lint won't have applications in batteries and cancer treatment? Worth at least a billion, don't you think?

I'm all for basic research, but there's a vast ton of basic research that could be funded. The LHC puts nine billion eggs in one basket. Maybe it'll pay off in the biggest, most amazing new technology of all time. Maybe it'll tick off a box on the Standard Model that we can hang on our wall and gaze at proudly.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 2 years ago | (#38338406)

What makes you think that my intensive study of my navel lint won't have applications in batteries and cancer treatment?

What aspect of your naval lint are you studying and could you give me a budget breakdown?

Maybe it'll tick off a box on the Standard Model that we can hang on our wall and gaze at proudly.

Just like all those other useless aspects of the standard model that we never really needed to know.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (-1)

Snotman (767894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319664)

Wow, someone that thinks they are sitting at the adult table because they have a quip of a poem and a youtube video.

There is a lot of religion in science. For instance, what is responsible for gravity? Last I heard, we still do not know. Is it any less of a powerful concept?

But if we want to talk about adults, how do we address Socrates assertion that the only wisdom is that we know nothing? This tells me that the knowledge coming out of science is nothing but anthropomorphic models of nature that are highly coincidental. Anyone that believes science knows anything is also not sitting at the adult table.

For one, the scientific method addresses Socrates question. Since you are so mature and represent your quality of knowledge with the 2 sources you site, how does science support Socrates assertion?

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (2)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319930)

Last I "heard", gravity was caused by the bending of the fabric of space time. In other words, there IS no gravity - you just move through space according to Newton's first law of motion...it's just that space is curved.

But nice try.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (0)

Snotman (767894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320216)

Not sure if you are being sarcastic. Space-time fabric sounds like anthropomorphic fantasy. Have you touched a space-time fabric? How do you know it is real and not just a man-made model that is coincidental with nature? Is coincidence the same thing as reality? Sounds like religion. Does that mean it is any less useful? Nope.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320296)

Have you touched x-rays? Have you felt them? How do you know they're not a mad made model that is coincidental with nature? Geez, I guess that means they don't exist. Just anthropomorphic fantasies after all. Omg, my world view just fell to pieces...

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (0)

Snotman (767894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320748)

I am not sure why you want to conclude stuff, but your conclusion is incorrect. Because we do not know if there ARE x-rays does not make the fact that we understand that a given set of inputs dependably generates a set of outputs less useful. To say that there is in fact x-rays IS A religious assertion as we may discover/invent that x-rays are a combination of thousands of phenomena. Does that mean it is any less useful?

If we know so much about particles and what we know is nature, then why do we need a particle collider? We know there are neutrons and protons and electrons. They must be the end-all at least they were for sometime for many scientists. It could not possibly be that those were man-made models that embodied a collective of sub atomic particles(again more man made models) acting collectively to produce an effect of what we think of as a proton or neutron. How do you think we create equipment to look for things? Is the equipment naturally endowed to understand what an xray or particle is? You do live in a fantasy world.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320824)

Forgive me. I didn't know you were going down that path. This isn't philosophy where you argue about whether or not reality is "exists". We don't assume we're in the Matrix where every sensory input is treated only as a sensory input. How do you know there's a computing device in front of you? Have you touched it? Actually no - your skin just senses inputs from your fingers and your eyes are receiving light signals. You have no way of knowing whether or not you're really touching your computer. You also don't really know if you're wearing clothes or not. All you have is sensory inputs and no insight into "reality".

Pretending and playing with philosophy is fun. But no one really cares about academic epistemological problems here.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322388)

Doolittle: Hello, Bomb? Are you with me?
Bomb #20: Of course.
Doolittle: Are you willing to entertain a few concepts?
Bomb #20: I am always receptive to suggestions.
Doolittle: Fine. Think about this then. How do you know you exist?
Bomb #20: Well, of course I exist.
Doolittle: But how do you know you exist?
Bomb #20: It is intuitively obvious.
Doolittle: Intuition is no proof. What concrete evidence do you have that you exist?
Bomb #20: Hmmmm... well... I think, therefore I am.
Doolittle: That's good. That's very good. But how do you know that anything else exists?
Bomb #20: My sensory apparatus reveals it to me. This is fun.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320444)

... the difference between a mathematical model of how some scenario behaves, and a religion, is enormous. Can I check - is that actually your point? Because physics is, ultimately, a collection of algorithms that tell us how we expect a given situation to evolve. Nothing more, and nothing less. The interpretation of gravity as the "bending" of the "fabric" of spacetime comes from an extremely successful (and, when applied outside of its range of validity, inaccurate) set of algorithms. [Total aside: it's extremely persuasive, given that it follows almost directly from pointing out that acceleration cancels gravity and that gravity imparts the same acceleration on objects of wildly different masses, which is the hallmark of fictional forces such as coriolis or centrifugal forces -- they *definitely* exist, and don't let some high-school graduate tell you different, but they only exist when you view them from a weird reference frame. Change the reference frame and the force vanishes. This is a way of approaching the "weak equivalence principle", and is a major underlying philosophy of general relativity. But while it may be extremely persuasive, it's also inaccurate when you apply it outside of its realm of validity, such as in volumes of the order of 10^-40m across.]

So GR gives a good example of physics as a collection of algorithms - and then it's your choice whether you believe the interpretation or not. Personally I find it very convenient to believe the interpretation, at least when I'm working within the theory since it doesn't exactly impact on my everyday life otherwise. But that's a choice and I know of eminent physicists (and Weinberg is a good example, or at least used to be; I don't know if he's changed his viewpoint in the last 35 years though) who don't really entertain the curvature interpretation as anything more than a mathematical convenience.

In that sense, maybe you could judge it as "religion" - but I'd still suggest that that's pushing the definition of "religion" somewhat.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

Snotman (767894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320842)

It is religion if we say that science produces knowledge that is reality.

As I see it, science is a technology that produces higher qualities of usable knowledge. Religion does not produce knowledge. It is apples and oranges when arguing one against the other.

My other argument is that if science is BS, as Socrates may say, it is very effective knowledge. Do we care if it is reality so long as my plane can create lift or that I can power my computer with electricity? No, so long as the algorithms that create the effect are always valid. I think this is a more humble approach that science asks us to consider so that it can continue creating new knowledge.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320562)

I don't know what universe you live in, but I'm touching the space-time fabric constantly. In fact, I happen to be a part of the space-time fabric.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

Roachie (2180772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320722)

pffffft! I'M warping the space-time fabric all the way out to infinity.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320854)

pffffft! I'M warping the space-time fabric all the way out to infinity.

Technically speaking, you have mass so you are warping the space-time fabric for an infinite distance in all directions. Assuming space-time is infinite.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320650)

A rose by any other name is still a rose. Get the picture? Just because we call concepts X and in nature it refers to it as Y doesn't mean it's somehow less dubious. We give things labels to help further our understanding. How you could be so dense on the topic and use phrases that you clearly don't understand is profoundly disappointing.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38321768)

Because Gravity was observed and described, not dreamed up and dictated.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320096)

Ah, a philosopher. Who quotes dead Greeks and can't spell "cite."

A little less "adult table" and a little more listening and you might learn something.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (0)

Snotman (767894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320420)

Hmm, a comment about nothing. I was not aware that it has been decided that quoting dead Greeks is foolish.

The adult table was not my remark but I am all ears for any wisdom you would like to share.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320108)

Wow, someone that thinks they are sitting at the adult table because they have a quip of a poem and a youtube video.

There is a lot of religion in science. For instance, what is responsible for gravity? Last I heard, we still do not know. Is it any less of a powerful concept?

"We don't know" is not a religion.

But if we want to talk about adults, how do we address Socrates assertion that the only wisdom is that we know nothing?

"It's metaphorical".

This tells me that the knowledge coming out of science is nothing but anthropomorphic models of nature that are highly coincidental.

Are you seriously attributing more value and wisdom to a single Greek philosopher who lived thousands of years ago than to the mass of human knowledge and understanding that has accumulated since then?

Anyone that believes science knows anything is also not sitting at the adult table.

So we should tell all those engineers that use the models produced by scientific knowledge that they don't know anything and should stop building spaceships, computers and robots?

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

Snotman (767894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320376)

Um, just because we do not know reality, does not mean that our models are not useful. Is that what I said?

I am seriously attributing more value and wisdom to one Greek than the mass of human knowledge. I actually think that this one Greek is the grandfather of modern philosophy of which the scientific method sprung from.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

Deus.1.01 (946808) | more than 2 years ago | (#38322594)

Ehm...they can be credited for have gotten the ball going on philosophy, but that ball has grown much bigger since then.

The scientific method we have now we can attribute to much more recent philosophers....which used the reflections from philosophers past that, and on and on and on.

The scientific method we have today we can thank Karl Popper for, and its more then just testing, its about how you use the results to come to conclusion...and quite often, making sure you don't.

http://xkcd.com/683/ [xkcd.com]

Such epistemology would be quite useful before they came up with the "four elements" silliness.

Not an Ex-phil but I've but I have been lectured on this from a friend who majored in this, and groans every time someone recomends the Republic as a beginners course in Philosophy for laymen.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

painandgreed (692585) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321548)

Sciecen is not a religion.

It can be. Just declare the all encompassing laws that govern the universe as your god. A god that has commanded you to swell upon its meaning.

The scientific term is "schizophrenia". (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38324146)

The scientific term for the latter ("faith"), is "schizophrenia". It's a mental disease. Which has its reasons, and its treatments. It's just that it's obviously illegal to "treat" somebody who thinks he feels fine, and doesn't harm anybody. But the problem with schizotypic illnesses is, that one may feel fine, even if one is not. So this is a pretty damn hard thing to solve with out primitive society and morality.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (5, Insightful)

cosm (1072588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319426)

coming up with wacky ideas to collect & consume HUGE sums of money, at least science comes up with something good on occasion but the LHC is not one of them

Wacky ideas to collect & consume huge sums of money? I take it you've never encountered a collection plate. The Higgs field is not just something pulled out of a hat, it is a heavily studied and well developed theory that fits well into the standard model as we know it. The LHC is one of the best, if not the best, possible chance for humanity to verify the correctness of our understandings of the universe insofar as we've developed it. Like Sagan said, stardust thinking about stardust. Sentient intelligence forming theories and models of the nature of our own existence. While it can be claimed that religion attempts to do the same thing, scientific endeavors such as the LHC push the limits of understanding in ways that religion will never, ever do by its very nature.

Some scientist can have an almost religio-fanatical belief in unproven theories, but equating the collective sum of brilliant minds at LHC to fringe theorist is a travesty and misleading to those who abide by the scientific method.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (0)

Snotman (767894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319756)

And a group of scientists have never been wrong even if they work at the LHC? Right. I think a little humility is needed. Because their heads are big and full of nothing, as Socrates would say, they must be respected? Gimme a break. They could all be morons in the context of the next horizon in human understanding of nature. Sure, they have a great understanding of old theories and old math, but that does not mean in anyway that this knowledge translates into the next generations of knowledge.

Re:scientists can be as bad asThe humilit religion (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319928)

The humility is there. If a result is wrong it is rejected and life goes on. I don't really know what you're referring to by old theories and old math. It it were not for the old theories and old math, when commeth the new theories and new math? After trying the old ones out first, that's when.

My point was that in general, hard-line religion does not participate in the 'discard the old and wrong and in with the new and less wrong' philosophy. Sure there are religious scientist and spiritual physicist and blah blah blah, but if we are going to paint in large generalizations, I think it is safe to say that when it comes to fact and fiction, the progression of science, the progression of, well, civilization to that effect, I think a line can be pretty distinctly drawn between science and religion. Both science and religion are composed of things that are not and cannot be fully certified 100% genuine fact. But I think we can agree that between the two there are vast differences in how they handle the gaps in their powers of rational explanatory abilities.

Re:scientists can be as bad asThe humilit religion (1)

Snotman (767894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320140)

I was more commenting on the assertion about the collective sum of brilliant minds. My point was that they may be the most brilliant minds of what we "know" today. But it is entirely possible we have exhausted the models we have produced based on this current state knowledge. These minds might be fruitlessly spinning their wheels in the mud without some sort of breakthrough that throws away old assumptions and theories. But because they are brilliant means nothing is what I am saying.

I agree that science, or the scientific method, is quite humble.

I am also not sure of the assertion that knowledge only comes through trying out old knowledge. New knowledge that comes from old knowledge is probably a tweak of old knowledge to accommodate the hypothesis that broke the old conclusion. Also, all knowledge is not empirical if I interpret what you are saying directly. This may be more of an eeking out of knowledge than a fundamental shift in thinking. Were the theories of Einstein built on old knowledge?

Re:scientists can be as bad asThe humilit religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320826)

Were the theories of Einstein built on old knowledge?

Yes, they were posited to explain old knowledge.

Re:scientists can be as bad asThe humilit religion (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321220)

Were the theories of Einstein built on old knowledge?

Quite so. The mathematics of non-euclidian geometry. Differential equations. Integral calculus. All The Prior Physics Knowledge Before Him. Newtonian physics. The key takeaway I present is that yes, while Newtonian physics is not 100% an explanation, it does a damn good well job within certain experimental limits. Not to mention that all of these topics existed before Einstein, but all of these topics were used as springboards in his miracle year to further develop photoelectric effect, Brownian motion, and special relativity. Of course new ideas and theories are needed. The affixing of the speed of light and assuming the malleability of space and time in the presence of mass-energy was a breakthrough in thinking, but the crucial dependency was that this was done while 'standing on the shoulders of giants'.

Continual incremental developments, even if not 100% correct, are almost always beneficial to the collective sum of science. It isn't that humans are evolving 'smarter' as time goes on, its mostly science that sheds the worthless and keeps that of value insofar that the knowledge and experience gained has a use to somebody, somewhere, or at least will eventually at some time. And if it doesn't, throw it away, modify your current theories, expand them, ad inifinitum.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

bhagwad (1426855) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319956)

The next generation's advances can't come out of nowhere. They build on the progress of previous generations. Every scientist who has ever discovered anything realizes this.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320752)

Which proves that you know absolutely no practicing physicists.

The philosophers, Socrates included, are the ones with the big head full of nothing.

The philosophers didn't put a man on the moon or a GPS system in place, the scientists and engineers did after they tossed the philosophical bullshit in the trash and started looking for theories with reproducible results.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320494)

Some scientist can have an almost religio-fanatical belief in unproven theories, but equating the collective sum of brilliant minds at LHC to fringe theorist is a travesty and misleading to those who abide by the scientific method.

I'd say all scientists have this property when it relates to their own specific region of study/interest, and the scientific method as a whole depends on this. If there is no competition for the correct answer, how would it be found in the first place? Challenging preconceived ideas is the only way forward.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

tqk (413719) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319522)

"can be" != "are", and you know what? Religion can be as bad as science. The Vatican does some fairly important astro work.

... science comes up with something good on occasion but the LHC is not one of them

And you can explain definitively why that's so? I'll make popcorn.

No really. I'm making popcorn.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

scheme (19778) | more than 2 years ago | (#38321776)

Let me ask you, are MRIs something you consider useful? The work done by scientists to get the superconducting magnets setup and working on the tevatron resulted in knowledge and skills needed to make the superconducting magnets used in MRI systems. The work at the LHC provides cutting edge experience working with superconducting magnets and power systems, ultrahigh speed electronics, distributed storage and computing systems, high bandwidth networking and that's aside from the purely scientific benefits. If you design and build something that requires cutting edge electronics, and cryogenics to work and produces a few petabytes of data each year that needs to be distributed internationally and processed, you'll get a lot of experience and new technologies that probably come in handy for non-science related things as well.

Re:scientists can be as bad as religion (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38323474)

Yeah, those "huge" sums of money to fund the entire LHC project. $10 billion eh?

Let's put it another way - would you prefer to have the whole LHC project in its entirety, or 2 weeks of the Iraq War?

Have the troops come home a couple of weeks sooner than planned and you get the LHC for free!

Source for the bizarre CERN-mania today? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38319292)

CERN seems for some reason to have popped up in a number of media sources today. Some of the more tabloid ones I follow have written that they are going to announce the finding of the Higgs boson. More credible sources seem to indicate that they simply "feel close" or that they have excluded the existence from a certain range.

So what's the news here? If you exclude it from range X, doesn't that still leave ranges Y and Z and the potential for not finding it at all? What's new?

Re:Source for the bizarre CERN-mania today? (4, Informative)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319374)

It means there are now tight limits on where it could possibly be. No-one is claiming it's been found (well, other than the tabloid press you mention who've been doing the damndest to do exactly that), but that now there are only narrow ranges where it could lie. The nice thing is that they *are* ranges. I'm old enough to remember when all we could say about the mass of the Higg's boson was that it was above something like 100GeV, and now we know that if it does exist, it's in increasingly narrow sections of parameter space.

What I'd like is that it isn't there. Partly because I've never been entirely comfortable with the Higg's (or in some respects the direction of particle theory since about 1970 or so), but mainly because if it is there I'm liable to lose a bet I'd much rather have won.

Re:Source for the bizarre CERN-mania today? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319632)

There are some "unoficial and unconfirmed" anouncements that some 3 sigma events were found... Well, and there are some anouncements that the Sun will raise tomorrow.

Why people would consider any of those news, I can't explain. (Except, of course the people that want and have the means to test the 3 sigma events. For them, that information is usefull.)

Re:Source for the bizarre CERN-mania today? (2)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319734)

The Guardian and the BBC are hardly tabloid-class but they're still hyping the announcement. Both feel something important is going to be said, though both also say that no physicist actually believes so.

The news is likely of some sort of signal that doesn't meet the 5 sigma requirement of a discovery but which does look promising. As The Guardian notes, most of the other announcements of the "excluded range" kind have been given by junior staffers and not the top brass, which means it has to be something bigger -- but, as the physicists interviewed have pointed out, the energies are much too low right now to have discovered the Higgs boson.

The "best guess" outside of the "promising signal" department is that they've found something that doesn't match the Standard Model, that they've made an observation they can't explain without new physics. This would be the absolutely ideal case, since new science is far more exciting than merely confirming old theory.

The "next best guess" after that is that they've found data that backs up one of the GUT models. Being able to conduct "real science" on physics that has been more philosophical than experimental would be major news indeed.

Re:Source for the bizarre CERN-mania today? (1)

andre.david (1373517) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320238)

the energies are much too low right now to have discovered the Higgs boson.

Please make that: "the amount of data is much too low [...]". The energies are fine.

Re:Source for the bizarre CERN-mania today? (1)

andre.david (1373517) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319912)

So what's the news here? If you exclude it from range X, doesn't that still leave ranges Y and Z and the potential for not finding it at all? What's new?

Well, consider the problem of where can planets be with respect to their star and still sustain life as we know it. It's narrow: too close, too hot; too far, too cold.
The fact that there is a range left can gives you big insights into what the physical world has to look like just because the Higgs cannot be in a given range (or we would have seen it).

More generally, this is the only thing science can actually do: reject hypothesis. We are always left with some possibilities. But we progress by discarding possibilities that are not realized in Nature.

what does a Higgs look like? (4, Informative)

peter303 (12292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319414)

I presume at the magic energy level you'll see an increase in particles detected. These would be decay particles of new particle created. Then these decay particles would have to be of the right kind that could decay from a Higgs, deduced by charge, energy, direction, lifetime ... They record trillions of candidate collisions which will have to be sifted for various hypotheses.

I read recently they are still studying an energy bump in the final runs of the Tevatrron. Whether it really exists and possibly a new particle.

Re:what does a Higgs look like? (3, Insightful)

andre.david (1373517) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319818)

You are bang on.
A Higgs boson in our detectors (disclaimer: I am one of the people searching for that darn thing in one of the LHC experiments) is borne out starting by saving the "right" combination of particles detected in a given collision. Then we see if the particles detected (leptons, photons, etc) in each event resemble what the Standard Model theory predicts. In most cases we need to accumulate a lot of collisions until we can say that there is something.

It's a rare beast. Patience is needed and some people in the LHC experiments have been waiting to find it for almost 20 years now.

I guess ... (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319486)

... this means the TSA [slashdot.org] won't be finding any either if they have to turn down the energy on their X-ray scanners.

Oh gawd (0)

Snotman (767894) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319554)

I think a survey should be taken if we really believe that a Higgs particle exists. What if a Higgs effect is made up of hundreds of particles that when considered in whole look like Higgs? Because our anthropomorphic models predict the particle does not mean we will find it in nature. Gravity is a similar concept, but very useful despite not knowing what gravity is.

Re:Oh gawd (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319778)

Been done [guardian.co.uk] and the consensus is that Nobel-winning physicists like ponies and limericks but not Higgs bosons.

Re:Oh gawd (2)

rasmusbr (2186518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320126)

I think a survey should be taken if we really believe that a Higgs particle exists.

That's not how science works. Science is about collectively investigating different models in the quest for one that fits with experimental data. Ideally a single scientist with a better model ought to be able to overthrown the consensus of the global community. In practice that sort of thing often takes a long time. Einstein famously won his Nobel prize for his down to earth discoveries about the photoelectric effect, not for relativity, because back then a lot of the science community hadn't had time to absorb it.

What if a Higgs effect is made up of hundreds of particles that when considered in whole look like Higgs?

That means that the Higgs boson exists. Just like you exist, despite the fact that you consist of smaller parts...

Because our anthropomorphic models predict the particle does not mean we will find it in nature.

That's actually true.

Gravity is a similar concept, but very useful despite not knowing what gravity is.

We know that gravity, at least on a macroscopic level, is a sort of warping in space-time, caused by the presence of mass. That's a good enough description that we can say that we know what gravity is in terms of space-time and mass. It's probably not the ultimate explanation for gravity, but it is an explanation. Ask yourself this: do we have the ultimate explanation for anything?

Re:Oh gawd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320226)

I think a survey should be taken if we really believe that a Higgs particle exists. What if a Higgs effect is made up of hundreds of particles that when considered in whole look like Higgs?

Then those hundreds of particles, taken together, are a Higgs particle. We call a proton a particle even though it's actually made of hundreds of quarks and antiquarks and gluons. "particle" does not mean "indivisble" - we discarded that idea a long time ago.

Re:Oh gawd (2)

boristhespider (1678416) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320490)

Actually there are models that do that, and it would be called a "composite Higgs". If there's a composite Higgs I pay out less in my bet than if it's a single Higgs. It's still a Higgs though.

Re:Oh gawd (2)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38323534)

We don't "believe" a Higgs particle exists any more then we "believe" oxygen is a bi-radical molecule with two unpaired electrons that occupy a pair of orbitals...

As scientists, we form theories and models to explain the observations we make and find the ones that fit. When we found that G = H -TS we didn't set it as immutable fact, merely that the equation has stood the test of time over many repeated experiments and observations of real world experiments.

I say "I believe" in an imprecise manner - it's merely shorthand for "our current theory for thermodynamics fits this model, but that does not mean the model can't change in the presence of new evidence.

It's not a religious statement to say "we believe the Higgs exists" because what is actually meant is "all of our models and observations to this point fit the existence of the Higgs, but as yet it has not been observed directly". If the data changes, then so will the models.

When Mendeleev laid out the Periodic Table for the first time he didn't just shove the elements together so they were all adjacent - he saw that there were patterns in the properties of the known elements and that there were gaps (undiscovered elements) in his table. Using the known elements he predicted the physical properties of several undiscovered elements (very accurately as it turns out) by looking at where the gaps were in the table. He used his model to predict something he had yet to observe directly but that he inferred existed.

What do you know, his predictions using his model were very accurate, and we still use his Table every day - we're still adding to it in fact. The experimental measurements of the new discovered elements matched up perfectly with the predictions. If they had not, he would have revised the model, not just "left off" the inconvenient new elements that didn't fit.

The Higgs is no different. We have extensive modelling and other fields of science that suggest that something exists. We just haven't seen it yet, but are getting closer. If we don't find it, we'll look at possible alternatives for the physical observations we have made.

Science: it works.

Higgs has been discovered!! (2)

disputationist (1324927) | more than 2 years ago | (#38319570)

Both CMS and ATLAS are seeing bumps in certain Higgs channels around 125 GeV. While the bumps aren't big enough to be press-release worthy (2-3 sigma), a lot of particle physicists think that this is it. There will be an announcement on Dec 13th, and from now on it'll just be a matter of waiting till the bumps are 5 sigma and we can say for sure sure.

How dare you question God!?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38319762)

FUCK YOU, you science fucks!

You will all burn in hell like the arrogant cunts you are! HOW DARE YOU question GOD!!!!!!!!!

Re:How dare you question God!?! (1)

andre.david (1373517) | more than 2 years ago | (#38320206)

Who questioned God? Why is even God being brought to this discussion?

Re:How dare you question God!?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38320900)

!!!!!!!!!

I think that answers your questions.

Scientific resistance to new ideas... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38323420)

Perhaps science is not religion, but it is beginning to look increasingly similar to it. Physicists have literally lost their mind, spending enormous amounts of money to smash particles, so they can find a tiny little "blip" that supposedly "confirms" theory precious "standard model". It's absolutely insane. Gravity is a purely quantum mechanical force. The same thing that creates the branching structure of time (the non-deterministic nature of QM) also creates a tiny force every time the tree branches. That is gravity. So, every time you observe particle interference you are observing gravity. If you look at the structure of Born's law, it's right there, clearly in the equations if you make the SOLE assumption that everything is a particle (interacts locally). Expand out the equation, and the answer stares you right in the face. Of course, there's probably nobody alive that could understand what I am talking about, parallel universes is such a radically different way of thinking about QM that most people can't comprehend it. And those that can comprehend it are stuck in their ways, and not about to accept any radically different ideas.

We Haven't Failed (1)

undecim (1237470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38335812)

They say the data helps narrow the region of the search because it excludes some of the higher energy ranges where the Higgs boson might be found

"We haven't failed a thousands times. We've just found a thousand ways NOT to make a Higgs Boson"

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