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Higgs Signal Gains Strength

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the higgs-hulking-out dept.

Science 189

ananyo writes "Today the two main experiments at the Large Hadron Collider, the world's most powerful particle accelerator, submitted the results of their latest analyses. The new papers (here here and here) boost the case for December's announcement of a possible Higgs signal. Physicists working on the In the case of the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, have been able to look at another possible kind of Higgs decay, and that allows them to boost their Higgs signal from 2.5 sigma to 3.1 sigma. Taken together with data from the other detector, ATLAS, Higgs' overall signal now unofficially stands at about 4.3 sigma."

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Damn... (3, Interesting)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961121)

Personally I wish if the higgs didn't exist, it would make things exciting ( from a scientific point of view). But if it doesn't, it would be a huge setback for particle physicist.

Re:Damn... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961513)

I am Templeton Beckmarsh (aka Flampton Hoppings) and I approved this comment.

Re:Damn... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38962399)

Don't worry. The higgs exists. If it doesn't they will fabricate it. They have to because if they don't then they might have to finally reveal the truth.

Please dumb down slashdot more (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961131)

Dear editors,
The slashdot readership have mentally degenerated over the years, probably because of all the iRadiation from their mactard devices.
Dumbing down the summaries and removing the links would be a start, but I think we should move to the final evolution of the medium, and just post sensationalist headlines so we can all attempt to get a first post with some retarded reactionary remark.

That's what todays slashbot wants. Please oblige them for maximum page views.

Thanks

Re:Please dumb down slashdot more (0, Offtopic)

mug funky (910186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961417)

you know, the frist prost in this thread actually seems relevant and of decent quality (if a little brief).

Re:Please dumb down slashdot more (1)

kanguro (1237830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961617)

Do No Evil My Ass, fandroid boy

Eh? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961139)

I left my statistics degree in my other pants... is 4.3 sigma a good thing? How many sigmas is "certainty"?

Re:Eh? (4, Informative)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961185)

Certainty ? from a scientific point of view ? infinite! Sigmas in a way tells how probable is to get these results, the more sigmas you have means that the more improbable to get these results without invoking some other model/theory etc etc. So 4.3 is good but not good enough, we need at least 5 sigmas. (What said is not 100% correct, but a rough explanation) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_deviation [wikipedia.org]

Re:Eh? (4, Informative)

ArAgost (853804) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961233)

4.3 sigma corresponds to a confidence level of 99,998292% (credit to Wolfram|alpha). This is about as certain as death and taxes if compared to “everyday” events, but maybe it's not enough for theoretical physicists (I'm not one).

Re:Eh? (5, Informative)

olsmeister (1488789) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961237)

I think they usually require 5 sigma (99.9999426697%) for it to be official.

Re:Eh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961303)

Mod Parent Up. They require 5 sigma effect at a 90% Confidence Level.

Re:Eh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961919)

Sorry - what does this mean? 90% confidence level is about 1.7 sigma so saying a 5 sigma effect at a 1.7 sigma level doesn't make a whole lot of sense to those not versed in the jargon of this field but understanding statistics. Can you expand?

Re:Eh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38962247)

Oooops: By Confidence level meant beta or Criterion Level. Check this: http://linkage.rockefeller.edu/wli/glossary/stat.html#beta [rockefeller.edu] Most experiments ask for 50%.

Re:Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961331)

Additionally, they'll want to boost the confidence level in each given channel much more as well. It's only 4.3 once you consider all the decay paths (i.e. the more decay paths are showing the anomally the less likely it's due to nature flipping you the bird)

Re:Eh? (2)

slowLearner (2498468) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961467)

Yes, but what is that in football fields?

Re:Eh? (5, Informative)

nomel (244635) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961539)

Stupidly assuming you're talking American "football", 119.99993120364 yards, or 0.00247666896 inches from the line.

Re:Eh? (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961833)

Well, of course he meant American football. If he'd meant un-American football he wouldn't have referred to a "field", he'd have referred to a "pitch", or a "winkie", or whatever term y'all use for that sort of thing.

Re:Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961951)

By assuming American Football, I assumenig that he is assuming Paraguayian football, which, means that he is really talking about the size of a USian soccer field.

People outside the United States of America just don't seem to get geopgraphy 8-)

USA, USA, We can't read or write, but dam we got some great Gangstar rappers. USA. We are #1 in gangstar rap. Fuck yea!!!

Re:Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38962077)

Another goal for the Axis of Stupidity.

In the real world football comes in fields, cricket comes in pitches.

Re:Eh? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38962211)

Football == using your feet to control a ball (read: sphere)

Hangegg == running around covered in padding holding and egg in your hand.

That is all.

Re:Eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38962999)

Real men call Hangegg rugby. And they don't use padding.

Re:Eh? (3, Informative)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961939)

Wikipedia has a good explanation at The 68-95-99.7 [wikipedia.org]

How many sigmas you have is a way of summarizing how much area of the bell curve is covered or how far along to one end point the bell curve you are. Being further along means less chance of error

From the page:
+/- 1 sigma = 1 in 3 chances of being wrong
+/- 2 sigma = 1 in 22
+/- 3 sigma = 1 in 81
+/- 4 sigma = 1 in 15,787
+/- 5 sigma = 1 in 7,444,278
+/- 6 sigma = 1 in 506,797,346
+/- 7 sigma = 1 in 390,682,215,445

Re:Eh? (4, Informative)

Seraphim1982 (813899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962283)

You managed to get the values for both 3 sigma, and 5 sigma wrong
+/- 3 sigma = 1 in 370 (which is what clued me into them being wrong, 1/81 + 0.997 isn't close to 1)
+/- 5 sigma = 1 in 1,744,278

Re:Eh? (3, Informative)

epine (68316) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962555)

This dialog is a bit of a mess, but makes some good points: Taleb on Antifragility [econtalk.org]

These talks come with very loose transcripts. Here's the key passage at length as I shamelessly promote Taleb's upcoming book Antifragility [fooledbyrandomness.com] , through I'm already certain I only agree with two-thirds of what he is putting forth (emphasis mine):

It's because of convexity effects, because small probability is very convex to error. [] Take the Gaussian distribution. And actually in a separate paper I finally proved something that has taken me three years. Take a very thin-tailed distribution such as the Gaussian. Thin-tailed, the normal distribution. You have two inputs, one of which is standard deviation. Standard deviation is very much your error. Now, if you take a remote event, say, 6, 7, 8 sigmas, you increase the standard deviation away from the mean; you increase the sigma by 10%, the probability of that is multiplied by several thousand, several million, several billion, several trillions. So, what you have, you have nonlinearity of remote events to sigma, to the standard deviation of the distribution. And that, in fact if you have uncertainty, the smallest uncertainty you have in the estimation of the standard deviation, the higher the small probability becomes and at the same time, the bigger the mistake you are going to have about the small probability. So, in other words, most of the uncertainty in parameterizing the model, most of the tails. So, you take an event like Fukushima, you see, where they said it should happen every million years; you perturbate probabilities a little bit and one in a million becomes one in thirty. Or the financial crisis. Or anything.

Some of those sigmas are model guards, not actual certainty.

Re:Eh? (5, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962545)

I left my statistics degree in my other pants... is 4.3 sigma a good thing? How many sigmas is "certainty"?

It's not good enough. They've got a good way to go before they achieve Six Sigma.

To make that goal, these scientists should probably go on a retreat, spend some time on team building exercises, and practice dynamic solution strategies, so that they can build up the synergies they need to deliver agile, customer-facing world class results that deliver a genuine Six Sigma experience.

Re:Eh? (1)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962905)

I've never wished more for mod points than right now. +1 funny!

Net economic loss? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961145)

It's hard to see this search for the Higgs as anything other than a net economic loss. No work on exotic particles (that is, anything other than the proton, neutron, electron and photon that we've known for a century) has ever produced any useful technology. The public still hasn't received a return on investment in the study of quarks decades ago, and now we are chasing some other particle that doesn't promise any benefit. How many millions of euro of taxpayer money have gone into this project, which will interest only a handful of scientists?

If a private company wants to sink money into this, it's their right. But the publicly-funded LHC should have never have happened.

Re:Net economic loss? (4, Insightful)

Lohrno (670867) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961269)

I am frankly shocked that you can say something like this. Of course it's a loss. But just because the results are not immediately applicable to anything does not mean it's worthless. This kind of research increases our knowledge of how the universe works, and that in and of itself is definitely worth publicly funding. We are increasing the sum of human knowledge. There is almost nothing more important.

Re:Net economic loss? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961391)

This kind of research increases our knowledge of how the universe works, and that in and of itself is definitely worth publicly funding. We are increasing the sum of human knowledge. There is almost nothing more important.

If you want to increase knowledge as an end in itself, pay for it yourself. Don't hold a gun to your neighbour's head and demand he hand over his hard-earned wages just for your obsession with trivia.

Re:Net economic loss? (1)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961453)

A society without research is a society that is going to die ( soon! ).

Re:Net economic loss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38962069)

Indeed. It is much better to hold a gun to his head and instead demand money for holding guns to foreign poor people's heads while killing their countrymen and burning down their villages. Considering the whole of the LHC project cost about $9 billion, while the wars in Afghanistan/Iraq suck up more than $12 billion per month, it think it's a bloody good deal.

Re:Net economic loss? (1)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961273)

It's true, but we didn't know that going in.

The real prize is learning what are, and how to manipulate the carriers of dark matter and dark energy.

Re:Net economic loss? (4, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961317)

Synchrotron light source
Super conducting wire
Positron emission tomography

Re:Net economic loss? (3, Informative)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961873)

Let's see, do any of these require exotic particle theory?

Synchrotron light source? Uses good old maxwell equations to steer electron beams with magnetic fields to make x-ray radiation...

Super conducting wire? The most viable theory behind cooper pairing is QM electron-phonon interaction which doesn't need any exotic particle theory...

PET? That uses simple radioactive sugar (where glucose is fluoridated with radioactive fluorine-18) and the resulting gamma ray decays are imaged...

Not to say that standard-model exotic particle theory isn't interesting, or doesn't explain certain physical things or certain astrophysical phenomena, but unlike QM, theoretical work on exotic particles has yet to prove economically useful. Century old QM theory on the other hand has helped us design flash memory, lasers, GMR disk drive heads, IC lithographic equipment, and has proven useful for racetrack memory, spintronics, quantum dot memory and maybe some day (economical) quantum computers.

Perhaps the time will come for standard-model sub-atomic theory being a big economic payback, but it hasn't happened yet. This might have a lot to do with the fact that other than the standard Hadrons (proton, neutron), and the electron and photons, and practically invisible neutrino, we don't see much, if any, of the other ones except as cosmic radiation or inside particle accelerators, which means economically they are more of nuisance than something to exploit. Who knows, maybe the even the standard model is wrong and we won't see anything economically useful from this theory on exotic particles, but maybe its sucessor theory. We just don't know yet.

It's easy to overestimate the impact of new theories. I'll wager that most cars today are still designed mostly assuming newtonian dynamics, and even more primitively, they got to the moon with a very low precision value for pi. Someday theories prove their worth, just like QM so it's worth investing, but overstating the case isn't being intellectually honest.

To bring a more understandable analogy to the current audience. If you are a computer programmer, your boss may indirectly use Turing computability theory to claim that it isn't impossible for you to write a program to do what he wants it to do, and perhaps P~NP might be something in the back of your mind when you look for algorithms, but the latest computability theory about NP-intermediate set problems probably doesn't yet have any economic value to anyone (after all, they are still NP problems even if not NP-complete). Might be valueable some day, though...

circumlocutionary; didn't read (4, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962125)

High-energy physics research has created extremely beneficial spin-off of technology, without being the primary purpose of that research.

Re:Net economic loss? (4, Insightful)

msevior (145103) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962207)

Those 3 things are technologies developed by Experimental Particle Physicists who wanted to test Particle Physics Theory.

Then there is this little thing called the world-wide-web invented by this guy Tim Burners-Lee to enable Particle Physics working at CERN to better collaborate.

Do these spin-offs count to CERN or Particle Physics net economic worth?

Re:Net economic loss? (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962633)

you didn't understand. these are things that were developed while studying exotic particles, for the study of exotic particles. anyway, if you have a lot of money, feel free to give it to the research you think matters, and let people decide in a hundred years if you were right or not.

Re:Net economic loss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38963163)

Sheldon...are you really afraid of birds, or are you just acting like you are to amuse us?

Re:Net economic loss? (5, Funny)

Bovius (1243040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961983)

That was almost a haiku if you drag "wire" out into two syllables, but the last line completely strays. What about this?

Synchrotron light source
Positron tomography
Superconductors

Re:Net economic loss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38963225)

Synchrotron light source
Super conducting wire
Positron emission tomography

I was so hoping that was a haiku....

Re:Net economic loss? (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961321)

So you know, other then the discoveries which led to the entirety of the modern age - oh, and you know, also the internet - this is all a real waste huh?

Re:Net economic loss? (5, Interesting)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961349)

positron emissions have medical application http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positron_emission_tomography [wikipedia.org]

strangely enough, application using one particle, the anti-neutrino, is in the works for reactor monitoring.

muons might be used to catalyze fusion or reduce lifespan of nuclear waste (with fusion products of catalyzed reaction

you are foolish, how can we engineer with the universe's components if we don't learn all we can about them?

Re:Net economic loss? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38962141)

The argument against direct economic benefits from modern high energy physics is stronger than you think. All the examples you give are for particles that had clearly measurable signatures in the 1930s. The Higgs and other particles that might be detected for the first time in the 21st century have such incredibly tiny effects on our world that we haven't been able to measure them despite looking diligently for a long time (40 years since the publication of the standard model). We can indeed engineer without knowing everything about what the universe is made of...in fact few engineers learn quantum mechanics and essentially none learn general relativity. All that is required to engineer is a model that gives predictions at the accuracy needed for design. And I can quite confidently predict that no engineering design in the next century is going to need the Higgs mass or anything beyond the standard model. That said, of course we should keep trying to figure out what the universe is made of...both because it is very interesting and because it may matter for engineering purposes in a millenium or two.

Re:Net economic loss? (-1, Flamebait)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961363)

Good god, you are an ignorant fuck. I could tear this bullshit to pieces, but what is the fucking point.

Re:Net economic loss? (0)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962513)

Whoever modded this insightful, I present to you a thought experiment: Re-read the comment, and then look up insightful, and then explain how this offers any insight.

Re:Net economic loss? (5, Insightful)

Tapewolf (1639955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961387)

How many millions of euro of taxpayer money have gone into this project, which will interest only a handful of scientists?

Approximately $9B, over 15 years, split between 20 nations. So on average, about $30M/year per country. Compared to Iraq or Afghanistan, that's a rounding error. Whatever may or may not come out of the Large Hadron Collider, I rather doubt either of those wars is going to show any ROI.

Re:Net economic loss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38962623)

But wars usually do precede economic boom period.

Re:Net economic loss? (1)

brantondaveperson (1023687) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962857)

Only because you burnt everything down / blew everything up.

Re:Net economic loss? (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961405)

Only navel-gazing morons mock basic research.

Re:Net economic loss? (4, Insightful)

JoeRobe (207552) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961481)

I bet they said the same thing about electrons, protons, and neutrons several decades ago. The positron is also an important particle in positron emission tomography, which has certainly saved lives. The research that went into the production of these facilities has also yielded very useful things, such as particle counting and cryogenics (neither of which was invented by particle physicists but certainly vastly improved upon by them).

Oh yeah, and the world wide web [wikipedia.org] was invented at CERN, so I guess that was kind of important too...

Re:Net economic loss? (4, Insightful)

crunchygranola (1954152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961575)

It's hard to see this search for the Higgs as anything other than a net economic loss. No work on exotic particles (that is, anything other than the proton, neutron, electron and photon that we've known for a century) has ever produced any useful technology...

People receiving pion radiation therapy would disagree, I think. How about muon imaging of geological and man-made structures? Neutrino imaging of the Earth? There you have three particles (or more depending on how you count the neutrinos) being used for practical purposes that you leave out.

Re:Net economic loss? (2)

careysub (976506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961665)

... No work on exotic particles (that is, anything other than the proton, neutron, electron and photon that we've known for a century) has ever produced any useful technology....

Neutron discovered in 1932. 2012-1932 = 80 years. Not a century yet. Positrons and pions are both important for medical use, muons and neutrinos are powerful tools for imaging the Earth. So you fail on a number of counts.

Re:Net economic loss? (1)

kanguro (1237830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961689)

Another sailor of the USS Envy . Fucking colonials.

Re:Net economic loss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961767)

Says the poster on a website using a standard (HTML) developed at the LHC. Bravo.

Re:Net economic loss? (4, Insightful)

Beeftopia (1846720) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962631)

“Science is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out of it, but that is not the reason we are doing it. ”

  Richard P. Feynman

Re:Net economic loss? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38963117)

"In my experience, theoretical physics is like sex: Theoretical"

Re:Net economic loss? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38963139)

âoeScience is like sex: sometimes something useful comes out of it, but that is not the reason we are doing it. â

So you are basically admitting that the government is fucking around the money I'm forced to pay in taxes?

If some scientist gets a hard-on from research with no discernible benefit, he can pay for it out of his own pocket. The notion that your pursuit is so noble that it justifies such theft is morally repugnant.

12/21/2012 (4, Funny)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961159)

Full blown Higgs signal. And the world will turn inside out and we will become Mole People and mocked by a future human and his 2 robot friends.

Re:12/21/2012 (1)

blacklemon67 (2566059) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961223)

So is "Full blown Higgs signal" a Harold Warren movie that we don't know about?

Re:12/21/2012 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961241)

Time Machine.

Re:12/21/2012 (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961355)

but that's great, slashdot geeks in the inside out mole people world get lots of sex. it's all good.

Re:12/21/2012 (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961425)

I'm disturbed I understand this, lol.

Re:12/21/2012 (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961461)

Interestingly enough, finding the Higgs Boson also solves the Fermi Paradox:

"If found, return to primordial soup."

Re:12/21/2012 (1)

cplusplus (782679) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961605)

We get signal!

Re:12/21/2012 (1)

ve3oat (884827) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961751)

,,, and mocked by a future human and his 2 robot friends

And his dog. Don't forget the boy's dog.

Re:12/21/2012 (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961855)

Full blown Higgs signal.

Is that what you get right after you get a full frontal Higgs signal?

Let's not get too excited about 4.3sigma (2, Interesting)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961165)

Apparently, the superbowl coin toss "experiment" has generated nearly as large a statistical anomaly... http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/cosmicvariance/2012/02/04/a-3-8-sigma-anomaly/ [discovermagazine.com]

Right now they are sorting through the math on old experimental data.

I'm sure they are waiting for at least 6 sigma to acutally claim anything...

Re:Let's not get too excited about 4.3sigma (2)

treeves (963993) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961619)

Motorola and GE had six sigma a long time ago. They should have just asked.

sure but... (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962817)

... I'd hardly call any of those companies lean.

Re:Let's not get too excited about 4.3sigma (4, Insightful)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961709)

Apparently, the superbowl coin toss "experiment" has generated nearly as large a statistical anomaly...

Not really, because that was only "predicted" after it occurred. That's cheating. In other words, if you sift through millions of events discarding all the "likely" ones (such as coin tosses in other sports, or regular season NFL games, that didn't show any consistency), it is extremely likely you'll eventually find an "unlikely" one.

In contrast, the criteria for detecting the Higgs Boson were set ahead of time.

By the way, the NFC lost the coin toss last Sunday.

Re:Let's not get too excited about 4.3sigma (2)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962449)

Apparently, the superbowl coin toss "experiment" has generated nearly as large a statistical anomaly...

Not really, because that was only "predicted" after it occurred. That's cheating. In other words, if you sift through millions of events discarding all the "likely" ones (such as coin tosses in other sports, or regular season NFL games, that didn't show any consistency), it is extremely likely you'll eventually find an "unlikely" one.

In contrast, the criteria for detecting the Higgs Boson were set ahead of time.

Not entirely, because there was no specific prediction for the mass. There were upper and lower mass limits on the Higgs set by theory, but not an actual prediction. So, if you scan a mass histogram looking for a bump and then find one, you can't simply ask how many sigma it is above the background and translate that to a 99.99... whatever percent probability. That's why they're hoping for a five or six sigma signal before they say anything conclusive, despite the fact that four sigma is well above 99% probability.

Re:Let's not get too excited about 4.3sigma (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962673)

Hmm, in an ideal world, a reported sigma value should include those types of considerations. (Basically, factoring in how many different hypothesis were tested.) It can be tricky, but you would expect such high-profile science to be top notch. After all, to determine you need 5 or 6 sigmas to exceed 99% probability (which is really just an inconsistent usage of terminology), you still have to perform the same calculation. (Otherwise, how do they know they don't need, say, 8 sigmas in the way they're calculating it?)

Re:Let's not get too excited about 4.3sigma (2)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962975)

Hmm, in an ideal world, a reported sigma value should include those types of considerations. (Basically, factoring in how many different hypothesis were tested.) It can be tricky, but you would expect such high-profile science to be top notch.

It is high profile science, but these "sigma" numbers are in informal way of reporting the size of the signal. In the final paper, they'll report masses and production rates with proper error bars, taking into account all statistical factors. The final published paper won't say "Hey, we have a six sigma signal!", it will say the mass of the Higgs is xxx ± yyy GeV/c^2, etc., and a mass histogram will also be shown, as well as information on the mass window searched, etc.

NFC? (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962833)

How are you going to toss a coin if NFC payments are going to replace coins? Throw up an iPhone and if the screen brakes, it's tails?

Wrong (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961787)

That article selected 14 out of 45 coin tosses and then calculated odds but because of the selection the odds calculation is in error.

Re:Let's not get too excited about 4.3sigma (1)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962021)

They say it is impossible on how to bias a coin to one side or another (the centre of gravity would only move closer to one side or another). One commenter posts a way of tossing a coin even if such a bias were possible (using HT vs TH).

Re:Let's not get too excited about 4.3sigma (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38962929)

Buttering one side of the coin should do the trick (dropped my toast this morning).

Re:Let's not get too excited about 4.3sigma (2)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962171)

Dear God. I'll make Sean Carrol a deal: I will never again talk in public about physics, as long as he agrees never again to talk in public about statistics. The sheer badness of that post makes my head want to go all splodey.

Only the first step (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961279)

This is only the first step. What the data suggests is that there's probably a particle there -- however, the higgs has several important properties that are impossible to measure with this dataset yet -- like its spin0 property. Chances are though, that because of how this data fits in with the higgs predicted mass, it really is the higgs.

Cool. But can it be used as a grammar checker? (5, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961305)

So, we can detect Higgs but we can't detect multiple typos in the damn summary? Really?

Re:Cool. But can it be used as a grammar checker? (3, Funny)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962203)

So, we can detect Higgs but we can't detect multiple typos in the damn summary? Really?

I've just checked... There is no TYPO detector at CERN [web.cern.ch] so that'll explain that problem!

sigma terminology (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961325)

This "sigma" terminology still sounds half-cocked to me.

Re:sigma terminology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961395)

Why does this sound half-cocked? From the wikipedia page:

Six Sigma is a business management strategy originally developed by Motorola, USA in 1986.[1][2] As of 2010, it is widely used in many sectors of industry

It's business management speak! And why would any physics discussion use management speak?

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_Sigma

Re:sigma terminology (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961735)

Using sigmas in science has been around for a long long time. It's something from probability mathematics. You see, the scientists don't consider anything, and I mean ANYTHING, including your own existence to be 100%. However, they will allow for probabilities approaching the point where there really isn't much reason to try and argue about it. (If you hear a scientist say something is 100% probable, then he's just dumbing the explanation down so he doesn't have to do an entire publicity tour for years just to sooth the ignorant baboons worried about something so unlikely it's got less than a 1 in a million chance to happen once in the entire lifetime of a billion universes.)

They call it sigma, because the probability formulas use the greek letter sigma. If you don't know what a sigma looks like,in my opinion it looks like a capital M laying down on it's left side.
On the Lucida Console font, I show it as character 03A3, but I've been having trouble getting it to show properly in this post, it keeps coming up as Σ

What's the probability that you will NOT have a singing winged monkey flying out you backside while doing The Man From LaMancha this year? Honestly I have no idea, but I'd bet it's got AT LEAST 6 sigmas. :)

Re:sigma terminology (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961415)

That's because you're a fucktard. I suspect concepts like zero and water being yet cause you the same degree of consternation. Here's my advice to you. Just start jamming pencils into your eyes until the feelings go away.

Re:sigma terminology (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962847)

Water being yet also causes me some degree of consternation. I feel there is a temporal paradox at play.

Re:sigma terminology (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961641)

Wait till you hear about derivatives and integrals.

rj

At Least Plagiarise Correctly (2)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961511)

Physicists working on the In the case of the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, have been able to look at another possible kind of Higgs decay,

Clearly, this was originally

In the case of the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, physicists have been able to look at another possible kind of Higgs decay,

and someone sloppily tried to change it to

Physicists working on the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment have been able to look at another possible kind of Higgs decay,

but failed.

Just fucking CTRL+C, CTRL+V - no one believes you're writing up your own summary anyway. Just plagiarise in full.

So, when the run the final test on Dec 21st... (2)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961559)

I'll be standing at the gates of the Playboy Mansion waiting for an avalanche of apocalypse sex

Units! (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#38961587)

Forget all that sigma stuff. We want Las Vegas bookmaker's odds.

Yes we can Higgs... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38961869)

My wife, the family's particle physicist (PhD in the field and staff physicist at one of those big boffin-filled accelerator labs) goes to CERN a couple of times a year to confer, and last year brought back one of my favorite Tee shirts, a black shirt with the math that postulates the existence of the Higgs in big white symbols! So, just call me Higgs Boy! :-) FWIW, my father was also a physicist and studied mesons (elementary particles) in the generation before FermiLab and CERN. Because of his friendship with many luminaries in physics and astronomy, I had the opportunity to meet Sir John Douglas Cockcroft, the co-inventor of the modern particle accelerator that was the grand-father of the LHC, when he was in the USA on a visit back in the late 1950's or early 1960's.

Anyway, my wife CAN do the math (I am limited to elementary calculus) and she thinks the proof of the Higgs is not far off. Over half of the problem is knowing where (in terms of energy) to look. After all, they will probably never see the particle itself - just the decay products. It's kind of like seeing the debris flying out of where a house stood after a gas explosion, and from the patterns of flying bricks and timbers, being able to determine what the house looked like, as well as what make of toaster caused the explosion! So, the math is the key to this stuff. As the Buddha said, "May you live in interesting times!"... :-)

Re:Yes we can Higgs... (1)

Zero__Kelvin (151819) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962927)

Your the househusband of a competent physicist and you cannot figure out how to create an account?

"It's kind of like seeing the debris flying out of where a house stood after a gas explosion, and from the patterns of flying bricks and timbers, being able to determine what the house looked like, as well as what make of toaster caused the explosion! "

You mean they are alike because in both cases, if you are wrong there is no way to prove it, so we just have to take your word for it that that is how it happened? (I mean, your "wife's" word, of course.)

Re:Yes we can Higgs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38963069)

U mad bro?

Re:Yes we can Higgs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38963027)

cool story bro

Innovation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38962031)

Research physicists are probably the most innovative people on the planet, and for the most part don't give a fig about the commercial uses of their inventions! Why do you ask? Well, they are doing stuff that has never been done before that requires equipment that has never existed before. So, they have to invent it and then build it.

What have they given us you ask?

1. Superconducting magnets that are necessary for MRI scanners.
2. Lasers (Gordon Gould) - can you spell Xerox?
3. High intensity synchrotron (x-ray) radiation that has enabled major advances in medicine (Cornell University, Wilson Lab in cooperation with the NIH)
.
.
.
The list is too long to fit here, I think.

Re:Innovation (2)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962227)

The list is too long to fit here, I think.

To be fair, you didn't really try did you? You only got up to 3!

Stinks of Confirmation Bias (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38962133)

Reading some of the papers, it is clear that the data is being selectively interpreted to yield a desired conclusion. This is yet another case of continued government funding depending on making progress in proving a particular result, in this case, the existence of the Higgs particle.

It's a shame that human society has come to this, and it is no wonder our technological progress has become stunted. We are not honest enough as a society to be able to make any further progress.

Re:Stinks of Confirmation Bias (2, Insightful)

mike260 (224212) | more than 2 years ago | (#38962445)

Reading some of the papers, it is clear that the data is being selectively interpreted to yield a desired conclusion. This is yet another case of continued government funding depending on making progress in proving a particular result, in this case, the existence of the Higgs particle.

Reading your post, it is clear that the article is being selectively interpreted to yield a contentious opinion. This is yet another case of trolling.

Proofread (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38962205)

Does ANYONE proofread these articles before posting them? The grammar in the summary made me vomit stuff I never even ate.
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