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Precise W Boson Mass Measurement Helps Lead the Way To the Higgs Boson

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the over-the-river-and-through-the-woods dept.

Science 82

New submitter SchrodingerZ writes "'The world's most precise measurement of the mass of the W Boson, one of nature's elementary particles, has been achieved by scientists from the CDF and DZero collaborations at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.' This new number (80387 +- 17 MeV/c^2) puts more constraint on the mass of the theorized Higgs Boson, which is theorized to give mass to all other things, supporting the standard model. 'Scientists employ two techniques to find the hiding place of the Higgs particle: the direct production of Higgs particles and precision measurements of other particles and forces that could be influenced by the existence of a Higgs particle.'"

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weapon of mass destruction (0)

msheekhah (903443) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253343)

anti-higgs boson?

Re:weapon of mass destruction (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39254083)

Do you hate niggers?

don't mean black folk, colored people, African Americans, etc. Those are cool and can be quite pleasant.

I'm talkin' about NIGGERS. Ghetto rats who overrun every inner city. The only thing they do faster than shoot each other and menace good white folk is breeding. No matter how politically correct you are they will show no mercy. If all they want is your money and jewelry you are very lucky.

Do you hate those niggers?

Mark Alpert, Final Theory (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39255389)

This is (sort of) the plot of a sci-fi thriller I read recently: Final Theory by Mark Alpert. The idea is that Einstein hides a discovery of his which could lead to weapons even worse than the atomic bomb.

In reality, Einstein suggested an atomic bomb to Roosevelt for fear the Nazis would get one first, and regretted the results (Hiroshima/Nagasaki)

Re:Mark Alpert, Final Theory (2)

tenco (773732) | more than 2 years ago | (#39259219)

This is (sort of) the plot of a sci-fi thriller I read recently: Final Theory by Mark Alpert. The idea is that Einstein hides a discovery of his which could lead to weapons even worse than the atomic bomb.

Sounds a lot like "The Physicists" [wikipedia.org] from Dürrenmatt.

Why can science... (4, Funny)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253443)

....routinely measure such esoteric things, but still can't devise a test to determine my girlfriends mood?

Re:Why can science... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39253593)

Because it is a trick question?

Re:Why can science... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39253613)

We can either determine her mood or determine that she is your girlfriend, not both.

Re:Why can science... (4, Funny)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253903)

Hmmm. Schrodinger's pussy I guess.

Re:Why can science... (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39255081)

no, that illustrates how the dress makes her butt look both big and small at the time.
maybe you're thinking of the Heisenberg PMS principle?

Re:Why can science... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39255577)

Cat's outta the bag, or off the rag? I can't seem to remember...

Re:Why can science... (1)

_merlin (160982) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253629)

You really just need a calendar for that, unless she's irregular.

come on now (4, Funny)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39255131)

menstruation jokes are the lowest form of humor, period.

Re:come on now (1)

neurocutie (677249) | more than 2 years ago | (#39256677)

that's bloody funny... but it goes with the flow...

Re:come on now (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39256701)

we should put a tamp on this thread

Re:come on now (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39257097)

I have thought of puns involving the the British use of 'bloody' as an intensifier

now how can I pad the length of this comment?

Re:Why can science... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39253641)

Because people are much more complex than particle physics. Why that might seems strange, physicists are so very successful in part because the phenomena they seek to explain are the simplest possible, i.e. the fundaments of reality.

Not that it's easy, no. But very much easier, or at least possible, than mathematically model, in any degree, a person.

We cannot really even measure the mass of person to the degree of precision we can measure particles. Much in the same sense that measuring the shoreline of Norway is non-trivial if we want mm precision.

Re:Why can science... (1)

KingAlanI (1270538) | more than 2 years ago | (#39255195)

+1 informative/insightful

this is a basic difference between the physical sciences and the social sciences

Re:Why can science... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39253699)

She's a woman? OK, advanced scientific instruments have determined that her current mood is:

BITCHY

That wasn't so hard now, was it? Also, while this may look like a comment, it's actually an advanced Web 3.0 application. Any time you want to know your girlfriends mood, just refer back to this post, as it will continually update as her mood changes.

Re:Why can science... (2)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253839)

A better question is when did Pierce Brosnan become a physicist?

I guess we know why he turned James Bond down.

Re:Why can science... (1)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#39255745)

A better question is when did Pierce Brosnan become a physicist?

I guess we know why he turned James Bond down.

Pierce Brosnan became a physicist in The World is not Enough... Of course the better questions are why did he quit doing that physicist gig to go sing ABBA songs and how in the hell did Denise Richards become a physicist?

Re:Why can science... (2)

pinfall (2430412) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253947)

I thought the title read Pierce Brosnan Male Measurements

Re:Why can science... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39254477)

A key difference is that there aren't teams of scientists all over the world trying to test (drive) your girlfriend. If there were, it'd he easy to gauge her mood.....

More seriously, people are complicated. They don't like it when they're being manipulated and will often act precisely in the opposite way they'd normally do, if they suspect they're being used or manipulated.

Two psychological tests highlight this, the prisoner's dilemma (which you probably already know) and the fairness dilemma which you might not. In the fairness dilemma it's often noted that if someone is deemed to be a cheater/enemy, people would rather receive no reward rather than the cheater/enemy receiving 10 times more than you do of a significant reward.

Re:Why can science... (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 2 years ago | (#39254721)

First off, she has to be real.

Re:Why can science... (0)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#39255073)

The better question is what is Science's answer for why women who live in the same house have their periods synchronized ?

Re:Why can science... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39255725)

I knew I would never make it in Physics when the professor got to electromagnetism. Every time he said "flux" my mind would wander off for several minutes...

Re:Why can science... (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39256395)

I knew I would never make it in Physics when the professor got to electromagnetism. Every time he said "flux" my mind would wander off for several minutes...

I had an Astronomy prof who consistently said "Carpenicus." I can't remember anything near those events, except trying not to laugh.

80387? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39253453)

So each W Bozon is a math coprocessor in and of itself?

Imagine a beowulf cluster...

Re:80387? (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253889)

Is it SX or DX? The post isn't explicit on that point.

Re:80387? (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39256719)

You don't add a 80387 to a DX processor. You must be confusing it witha a 80386.

But it is ok, everybody is confused. Take a look at the error margin.

Re:80387? (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 2 years ago | (#39257167)

There were two 80387s. The 80387DX (originally just called the 80387) which was designed to work with the 80386DX (originally just called the 80386) and the 80387SX designed to work with the 16-bit data bus of the 80386SX. You could tell them apart because the 80387SX had edge-connector pins while the 80387DX had pins on the bottom. Maybe you are confusing this with the 486DX (which had an integrated math-coprocessor) vs. the 486SX (which had no integrated math-coprocessor)? But I can assure you that both the 386SX and 386DX required separate 80387 math coprocessors and that each math coprocessor was specific to the type of 386 chip. link [wikipedia.org]

Where does the Higgs mass come from? (4, Insightful)

crt (44106) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253515)

If all other things get their mass from the Higgs Boson, where does the Higgs boson get its mass from?

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39253561)

Where does water get its water content from?

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39253563)

From all other things of course!

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (5, Funny)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253577)

It's Higgs Boson's all the way down.

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39253697)

Simple, from your observation of it......

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (2)

xlsior (524145) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253747)

It's turtles, all the way down.

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253779)

Zombie says: "I like turtles!"

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (1)

rfioren (648635) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253793)

From Boson Massachusetts?

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (5, Informative)

elfprince13 (1521333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253893)

The Higgs Mechanism is thought to give particles mass, and the Higgs boson is the particle that we anticipate to be the carrier particle for the Higgs field. Your question is a little bit like asking "if all other things get their light from photons, where do the photons get their light from?", which is to say, it reveals a bit of a misunderstanding about what's actually going on. That's okay though, because hardly anyone bothers to explain these things.

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (4, Insightful)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 2 years ago | (#39254247)

The Higgs Mechanism is thought to give particles mass, and the Higgs boson is the particle that we anticipate to be the carrier particle for the Higgs field. Your question is a little bit like asking "if all other things get their light from photons, where do the photons get their light from?", which is to say, it reveals a bit of a misunderstanding about what's actually going on. That's okay though, because hardly anyone bothers to explain these things.

No, that's not a good analogy, because Higgs particles do indeed have a mass of their own, while photons don't tan. Higgs particles can interact with themselves, and that's why they can have a mass while also giving other particles their mass. A better photon analogy would be this: photons carry the electromagnetic force and so they can be said to give charged particles their charge. But photons don't self-interact, so photons themselves don't have charge.

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (0)

Rinikusu (28164) | more than 2 years ago | (#39255229)

wait... photons or protons?

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258389)

wait... photons or protons?

photons

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (1)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#39254783)

"Of course the universe is finite, where else do all the photons go?"

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39255175)

This is a misunderstanding and misexplanation. What happens is that "Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking" gives particles their mass. The vacuum lowest energy ) state of must obey the same symmetry. Usually this is not a problem because the symmetry maps the vacuum state into itself. However with gauge symmetries this is not generally the case. Instead there are a set of states which are all symmetric to the each other as a vacuum. For the dynamics to be determined uniquely a vacuum state must be chosen. The process of chosing the vacuum state breaks the symmetry. ( Put another way the Universe evolves in a way which respects the symmetry, but the starting conditions for the Universe cannot possibly obey the symmetry, so it is broken. )

Spontaneous symmetry breaking generates two artifacts. One is the particle essentially interacting with itself at the ground state. This is the mass of the particle.
The other is the particle oscillating between different ground states. This gives rise to the Higgs.

So in essence particle mass and the Higgs are both artifacts of Spontaneous Symmmetry Breaking.

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (1)

elfprince13 (1521333) | more than 2 years ago | (#39256855)

I was trying to give the particle-physics short answer (carrier particles), rather than the gauge-theory long answer (symmetry groups), but thanks for the extra detail :)

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (5, Informative)

Quantum Jim (610382) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253909)

They get their masses from the Higgs Field. The W Boson is like a ripple in the W-Field. An electron is like a ripple in the electron-field (not the electrical field). Et cetera. So a Higgs Boson is like a ripple in the Higgs Field. But it still gets is mass by interacting with that field, like most other elementary particles with mass. Here's a good article that explains that: If the Higgs field were zero [profmattstrassler.com] .

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (1)

Quantum Jim (610382) | more than 2 years ago | (#39255181)

Whoops. Allow me to correct my own post. Not all of the Higgs particle's mass is from the Higgs Field:

In particular, as you can see in Figs. 3 and 7, the Higgs particle itself does not get all of its mass from the non-zero Higgs field — and the strength of its interaction with itself is not directly related to its mass. [There is a correlation, but not proportionality.] This is not unusual.

I wonder how it gets the rest of its mass? That's a good question.

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (1)

jlechem (613317) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253931)

IANATP but I enjoy reading about this stuff. Wikipedia has a semi decent article about it. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_boson [wikipedia.org] Somehow these higgs bosons form a field that as other particles travel through it causes them slow down and have mass. Very layman answer and probably wrong but is how I see it from the wiki article.

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 2 years ago | (#39257589)

A (relatively) readable Higgs explanation [quantumdiaries.org]

Re:Where does the Higgs mass come from? (1)

Quantum Jim (610382) | more than 2 years ago | (#39272109)

Sorry for all the responses. I asked Professor Strassler on his website. He replied that it's actually a mystery where the Higgs gets it's mass! It's a very good question. All the other standard model particles, except the neutrino, get their masses via interacting with the Higgs field. We don't really understand neutrinos very well, though.

Except that the Higgs Boson doesn't exist (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39253551)

All experimental attempts to create the Higgs Boson have failed. It's time we gave up on this rabbit hole and tried to focus on more important physics.

Consistently failing to find what your theories predict. Is it good or is it whack?

Re:Except that the Higgs Boson doesn't exist (2)

P-niiice (1703362) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253635)

If you had any understanding of the subject, they seem to be getting closer - not failing at all?

Re:Except that the Higgs Boson doesn't exist (1)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253925)

All experimental attempts to create the Higgs Boson have failed. It's time we gave up on this rabbit hole and tried to focus on more important physics.

Consistently failing to find what your theories predict. Is it good or is it whack?

You should say: Consistantly finding theories to be false, never knowing things to be true. If that is all science can do ... is it good or is it whack?

Re:Except that the Higgs Boson doesn't exist (1)

lennier (44736) | more than 2 years ago | (#39255035)

You should say: Consistantly finding theories to be false, never knowing things to be true.

But if we can never prove a scientific theory to be true, how do we go about proving for sure the theory that we've proven another theory to be false...?

Bertrand Russell makes Karl Popper cry! (while Kurt Goedel sits in the corner smirking)

Obligatory XKCD (4, Funny)

Powercntrl (458442) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253557)

Slashdot should just automatically link Higgs Boson [xkcd.com] to this, every time.

There's probably some truth to this, too. A particle accelerator is the ultimate geek toy.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

mrstrano (1381875) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253951)

Slashdot should have a script that finds relevant XKCD comics for every story. About 23% of all the posts link to XKCD anyhow.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (0)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#39254099)

I prefer this one http://abstrusegoose.com/118 [abstrusegoose.com] .......... http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/directory/H/Higgs.asp [cartoonstock.com]

The particle accelerator is not aimed for the Higgs Boson only, that's only the start.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39264715)

I prefer this one http://abstrusegoose.com/118 [abstrusegoose.com] ..........

Way to waste three days of my life!

Re:Obligatory XKCD (2)

lennier (44736) | more than 2 years ago | (#39255177)

You would prefer another target, a massive scalar target? I grow tired of asking this, so it will be the last time. Where is the Higgs Boson?

125 GeV. It's at 125 GeV.

There, Lord Vader. She can be reasonable. Continue with the ATLAS/CMS collaboration; you can fire when ready.

Re:Obligatory XKCD (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 2 years ago | (#39258323)

Or this one [xkcd.com]

Cupcakes (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39253575)

I find the best way to lure a Higgs Boson out of hiding is with cupcakes.

Re:Cupcakes (1)

dudpixel (1429789) | more than 2 years ago | (#39256731)

I dunno, with all this talk of higgs' bosom I'm really hoping this "higgs" is a woman.

Pierce Brosnan (0)

AppleCrumbCake (950019) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253597)

Thought this said "Pierce Brosnan's Mass Measurement" at first glance...holy hell, gotta see if my new glasses are ready.

Wrong Summary (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39253777)

The Higgs boson is the result of symmetry breaking in the electroweak force. It, in itself, does not give mass to all other things. It is an indicator that allows the existence of the higgs field and mechanism to be inferred.

The Higgs Boson has potential as fuel for cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39253815)

Recent studies indicate that Higgs Boson powered automobiles are far more efficient per "gallon" of Higgs Boson particles than a similar automobile using a "gallon" of regular unleaded gasoline particles. With this in mind I believe that it is in our best interest to mass produce Higgs Boson particles so that we can compete against Japanese and German automobile manufacturers on the global market.

Since GM is owned by the government, and the government has unlimited amounts of money, it would seem that it is in the American government's best interests to build a Higgs Boson particle generating plant. In due time costs will go down to the point where it costs less than $3 for a gallon of Boson particles, and then we can laugh in Japan and Germany's face. We'll show them who the masters of innovation are!

And then once we've decimated their economies we can enslave them and put them to work doing the jobs that Americans are too good to do. We can make our iPods in Germany and Japan instead of in China, and we won't even need to use children. The children will be harvested as a delicacy for Americans. Who doesn't like a little long pig, eh?

Pre Pentium Bug (1)

codecore (395864) | more than 2 years ago | (#39253929)

Fortunately the 80387 preceded the Pentium floating point bug, so they may actually be accurate.

Re:Pre Pentium Bug (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 2 years ago | (#39257859)

Ok, so mine wasn't the only brain thinking "floating point particle accelerator" or something in that space...

The world average is +-15 MeV (1)

n0mad6 (668307) | more than 2 years ago | (#39254041)

The new number is +-15 MeV including the LEP measurements. +-17 is just the Tevatron.

LEXX (2)

jimmerz28 (1928616) | more than 2 years ago | (#39254047)

Everytime we keep getting articles about this I wonder how accurate LEXX was in saying how M class planets always end up destroying themselves when attempting to find the mass of the Higgs Boson.

Re:LEXX (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39255551)

If something goes wrong, you'll see it here [cyriak.co.uk] .

Re:LEXX (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39255717)

CLASS 13 PLANETS!

Class M is from Star Trek, Class 13 is from LEXX.

Turn in your geek badge.
Son I am disappoint.

Re:LEXX (1)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 2 years ago | (#39257873)

Of course, M is the 13th character in the English alphabet, so aren't they really just two ways of saying the same thing?

Pierce? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39254089)

Pierce Brosnan's middle initial is W?

_The Hunting of the Higgson_? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 2 years ago | (#39254159)

These twists and turns in deducing how to test physics for the existence of the Higgs Boson is going to make an interesting book when it's either proven or disproven.

Who would you like to see write it?

Who would you like to see star in the movie based on it?

Re:_The Hunting of the Higgson_? (1)

pseudofrog (570061) | more than 2 years ago | (#39254917)

Quentin Tarantino.

Rick Moranis.

"Lead the way to the Higgs Boson"? (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39254167)

The headline reads as if it were an announcement that the Higgs had been discovered, when all that's really happened is they've further constrained the possible range of masses the Higgs Boson could be if it exists at all.

Re:"Lead the way to the Higgs Boson"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39254407)

it's a bit like an intelligent politician or an honest lawyer, theoretically and statisically they should exist but can you ever find one?

Re:"Lead the way to the Higgs Boson"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39254449)

Oh, politicians are usually quite intelligent. The fact that they've convinced you otherwise is their ultimate genius (and proof of their evil!)

Oblig. Dilbert (2)

Cigarra (652458) | more than 2 years ago | (#39255729)

Dilbert figured it out already [dilbert.com]

Tevatron data and software. (2)

patfla (967983) | more than 2 years ago | (#39256123)

It's interesting that the Tevatron is still producing scientific results even though the particle accelerator was shutdown Sept 30 of 2011. And that's because there's still a massive quantity of undigested data from the experiments that stopped running at that time.

If one reads about the LHC, one sees the same phenomenon. Which proposes that one of the things that could kick particle physics (and many other areas) forward the fastest is better software. Or maybe that's already obvious to everyone else?

Re:Tevatron data and software. (2)

Mr Z (6791) | more than 2 years ago | (#39257885)

Is it really the software, or is it proper formulations of hypotheses to test against the raw data? It's one thing to say "I'm looking for the XYZ particle." It's quite another to say "If an XYZ particle interacts with a ZYX particle in such-a-such way, it should result in ZZZ and XXX decaying in such-a-such pattern. Did we see that pattern?" Wash, rinse, repeat for all possible interactions and decay product patterns.

I'm not a particle physicist, but my impression from the outside looking in is that the limit seems to be the creativity of the physicists constructing "experiments" to run against the data based on careful extrapolations from the standard model.

Any physicists here on /. that can confirm, deny or refine that impression?

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