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Interviews: Ask Physicist Giovanni Organtini About the Possible Higgs Boson Disc

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the so-what's-it-like-meeting-god dept.

Science 170

Giovanni Organtini of Italy's National Institute of Nuclear Physics (well, Instituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare) has agreed to answer questions about the recent observations of a particle consistent with the Higgs Boson. Dr. Organtini is part of the CMS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider. He is careful to note that while the researchers "[believe] that this new particle, with a mass 125 times that of a proton, is the famous Higgs boson," they "need to study that new particle more deeply in the next months to be conclusive on that. Organtini likes free software (he's written Linux device drivers, too) and has his own physics-heavy YouTube channel, mostly in Italian. Please confine questions to one per post, but feel free to ask as many as you'd like.

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170 comments

The Best of the Worst Science Reporting? (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#40630413)

In regards to the Higgs Boson, what's the stupidest thing you've seen in the press? Has anything in particular made you really laugh or groan? Has the reporting been overly irresponsible for this discovery process or just the same old press that you're used to?

Re:The Best of the Worst Science Reporting? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40632439)

WHOA, you didnt read the one question per post part did you....

its ok, reading is hard.

Article title (2, Funny)

psergiu (67614) | about 2 years ago | (#40630489)

"Interviews: Ask Physicist Giovanni Organtini About the Possible Higgs Boson Disc"

Is the Higgs Boson disc-shaped or is Timothy too lazy to use the preview button before posting ?

Re:Article title (1)

TwentyCharsIsNotEnou (1255582) | about 2 years ago | (#40630531)

Mightn't be the editors fault this time - the full title, with "Discovery" appears in the RSS feed. Probably an issue with long titles in slashcode?

Re:Article title (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40630733)

And we were only one character away from discussing the "Higgs Boson Disco"!

Re:Article title (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631991)

Mightn't be the editors fault this time - the full title, with "Discovery" appears in the RSS feed. Probably an issue with long titles in slashcode?

If the editors aren't expected to proof-read the title then what the hell are they for?!

Re:Article title (3, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#40631087)

"Interviews: Ask Physicist Giovanni Organtini About the Possible Higgs Boson Disc"

Is the Higgs Boson disc-shaped or is Timothy too lazy to use the preview button before posting ?

No, what he meant was that Organtini is going to put a bunch of Higgs Bosons on a DVD and sell them to people who want them. This is your chance to ask questions before you buy, such as:

How many bosons will be on the disc?

Will I be able to view them on Linux?

Why not just make them available for download?

Re:Article title (3, Funny)

Dewin (989206) | about 2 years ago | (#40631551)

No, what he meant was that Organtini is going to put a bunch of Higgs Bosons on a DVD and sell them to people who want them.

I don't think Higgs Bosons will catch the interest of the mass market.

What everyone wants to know.... (0)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 years ago | (#40630495)

What does the Higgs Boson taste like?

Re:What everyone wants to know.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40630581)

Chicken. Very massive chicken.

Disc (3, Informative)

MagicM (85041) | about 2 years ago | (#40630499)

How much do you hate people who say "disc" instead of "discovery" and lead halfwits everywhere to believe the Higgs particle is disc-shaped somehow?

Re:Disc (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40632831)

This is the only reason I clicked on the link. Terrible editors. Bad.

Open Data? (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#40630507)

Since you're a fan of free software, why don't we see more open data efforts in particle physics? I see headlines like this [nytimes.com] and they're kind of a turnoff. Aside from this super confusing applet [vixra.org] I haven't been able to find torrents of the data available on these tests. Why is that? I mean, as a software developer there is a legitimate effort of folks writing open source software and then there's a legitimate effort of people using that software to accomplish many things and everyone deserves credit. So why are particle physicists so keen on being the collectors and (at least initially) the sole keepers of their data? It would seem to make sense to me that people should be rewarded based on their collection of data and how meticulous and well they do that while any group can consume and derive results from said data. I understand the process has gotten more open but why so slowly? Why not torrent your data to whoever wants it immediately after you get it?

Re:Open Data? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40630605)

Hmmm. I clicked on the nytimes link and the first thing that greets me is Oblame-a's ad whoring himself out for a contest to win a BJ or something from the prez.

I threw up all over my screen.

Re:Open Data? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631673)

ATLAS generates 23 petabytes of raw data per second. A large computer cluster near the detector identifies which events to store amounting to 100 megabytes per second which is around 1 petabyte of data per year. (Straight from wikipedia)

The actual analysis of the data requires multiple large computer clusters world wide. I believe the data is available to anyone with the expertise and knowledge required to do any meaningful data analysis. Oh and having a spare cluster sitting around with nothing to do probably helps as well.

Money, time and effort (2)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 2 years ago | (#40632709)

Particle physics data is not open because of the money, time and effort needed to analyse it. First data would never be released until first analysed by the collaboration - there is no way that you are going to get someone working on building and operating the detector without the reward of being among the first to analyse that data. We are physicists, not engineers.

Secondly analysing the data is a huge effort. You have to understand many varied and subtle detector effects related to how the detector was constructed. The not only requires a huge effort to pin the effects down but also a very detailed knowledge of the detector. It is highly unlikely that anyone who has not worked on the detector will be able to do this well or at least without considerable extra work.

Then there is the cost of storing and making available the petabytes of data an experiment like ATLAS generates each year. Who is going to pay for the network, disks, servers etc to make this all available not to mention the development of a simple event format and the processing needed to generate and fill it. Every pound/franc/dollar spent on this is one less to spend on the research itself.

Finally some experiments, like D0, have already made their data available after analysis which is the only time it is understood well enough to be converted to a simple format. The number of visitors to the website was in the single digits over a period of a year despite it being advertised to theorists.

The future of the Higgs (5, Interesting)

Dartz-IRL (1640117) | about 2 years ago | (#40630509)

While I know it is rather early to comment, what do you think the future applications of today's research into Higgs Boson will be?

Don't be afraid to be a little bit sky-high. I for one am already fantasising about space ships propelled by manipulation of the Higgs field on a local scale.

I'm only asking because, a century ago the electron was discovered and nobody was quite sure what to do with it. And it runs the world.

Re:The future of the Higgs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40630719)

Mass Effect?

Re:The future of the Higgs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40630895)

Stargate

National Security (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40630521)

Good evening. My question pertains to the possibility of terrists gittin ahold of our nucular stockpiles. When are we gonna learn that it takes money to protect the homeland? Lots and lots of money. I mean TONS. I swear, if it wasn't for them damn liberals, we'd never have to worry about it agin. So to make a long story short, I deplore you: PLEASE make the case for national security.

Thank you and have a good evening.

Is it higgsy? (5, Interesting)

rwven (663186) | about 2 years ago | (#40630523)

What success or failure factors can/should/will be used to determine whether or not the new particle is actually the higgs, or something else unexpected?

Re:Is it higgsy? (2)

skids (119237) | about 2 years ago | (#40631415)

Also, of the tests that were conglomerated to get to the 5 sigma value, how similar were those tests to each other, and how does that speak to the robustness of the results? What I mean is, is this just a glimpse at a corner of something that is jutting out where a corner of the higgs would jut out, or are we seeing more than one corner of it?

Obvious... (0)

ak_hepcat (468765) | about 2 years ago | (#40630539)

The question on everybody's mind, of course, is ...

    will it blend?

Re:Obvious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40630573)

Fucking Higgs Boson. How does it work?

Re:Obvious... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631073)

I hope Organtini doesn't answer that one. I don't want to talk to no scientist.

When Does the Particle Hunt End? (4, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#40630553)

So say hypothetically that with this discovery we quickly unify the four fundamental forces of our universe. Does the 'particle hunt' end there? Is there any reason there aren't more fundamental particles -- even ones that might not be predicted by the Standard Model but do exist? If your answer is "no one knows," what is your gut feeling and why?

Re:When Does the Particle Hunt End? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40630783)

It doesn't unify the forces. It isn't a force transmitting boson.

Anyways, there is one particle remaining. Unfortunately, it appears that it would require a detector larger than the Earth with neutrino shielding massive enough to collapse into a black hole. That particle is the graviton. And that boson would unite the forces.

Re:When Does the Particle Hunt End? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631281)

One Boson to rule them all, One Boson to find them, One Boson to bring them all and in the black hole bind them

Re:When Does the Particle Hunt End? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631509)

But if you could uncouple the detector from the Higgs field, would it still collapse into a black hole?

Re:When Does the Particle Hunt End? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40632525)

"And that boson would BALANCE the force"

mass for a mass-giving particle (3, Interesting)

ThorGod (456163) | about 2 years ago | (#40630555)

What does it mean to say a particle that gives all other particles mass...has mass itself?

Re:mass for a mass-giving particle (3, Interesting)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about 2 years ago | (#40630913)

The Higgs mechanism is what gives particles mass, not to be confused with the Higgs boson ;)

Two different things, named the same because of how related they are.

Re:mass for a mass-giving particle (1)

ThorGod (456163) | about 2 years ago | (#40630941)

How related are they? Is it like the electron and the electron-field (the cosmological term/concept)?

Re:mass for a mass-giving particle (2, Interesting)

TemperedAlchemist (2045966) | about 2 years ago | (#40631383)

Intuitive physics breaks down, so I'll try the best I can to explain this.

In quantum field theory, stuff goes down differently, very differently. The fundamental things (entities, stuffs) are fields. You're perhaps intimately familiar with one of them, the EM field. And I'm sure you know about wave-particle duality, so this next part may make sense. Photons are thought to be oscillations in the EM field. But of course, go into the details and things get loopy.

A proposed ubiquitous Higgs field is one of these such fundamental stuffs, and the Higgs boson is to the Higgs field as a photon is to the EM field (not quite the same, though).

Re:mass for a mass-giving particle (1)

avandesande (143899) | about 2 years ago | (#40631683)

In real laymen way to explain it is it's named the Higgs field so it kind of fits in the family of things like magnetic fields or gravitational fields.

if there is a God... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40630557)

...don't you think he'll punish you for using your talents to suck resources away from survival and toward some unnecessary dalliance?

And, if there is no God, how does it feel that within a hundred years time you'll be the same nothing as someone who jacked off all day and did nothing much of relevance to the world? (Both of you will have done nothing whatever of relevance to the universe.) Isn't it pathetic to be driven by your irrelevant human urges? What next - a Tower of Babel?

Re:if there is a God... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#40631143)

...don't you think he'll punish you for using your talents to suck resources away from survival and toward some unnecessary dalliance?

You sure have funny notions about God. What he'll actually be angry about is not spending the money and talent on anti-abortion, gay-healing, and other sex-control campaigns.

Higgs Boson=42? (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#40630575)

Despite the reference to the Higg's Boson as the "God Particle" in popular science journals and mainstream media, just how important is this discovery as far as weak interactions, gravity, etc., are concerned? Is this discovery going to change the face of quantum chromodynamics as we know it?

Re:Higgs Boson=42? (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#40630771)

Well, since the Higgs was apparently discovered at approximately the energy predicted by the existing theory my first guess would be no, it won't fundamentally alter the theory that predicted it. On the other hand I seem to remember there were some significant inconsistencies as well (charge maybe? Seems like something was off by a factor of 2 or so). If those inconsistencies prove to be real and not experimental noise, that could be the beginning of some serious re-thinking, especially if none of the current theories predict it properly.

Re:Higgs Boson=42? (1)

twistedsymphony (956982) | about 2 years ago | (#40631049)

This was similar to a question I had about the Higgs field. Maybe my understanding of physics is lacking in this area but since higgs gives things mass and gravitational forces are based on mass I'm curious if this discovery could potentially lead to a greater understanding of how gravity works. I also wonder if this discovery gives us any insight as to how we might be able to manipulate the higgs field to say alter the mass of objects leading to perhaps new forms of propulsion.

Re:Higgs Boson=42? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#40631255)

what, like warp drive?

I read a theory in a Trek novel (one of the early crossover ones I think - Strangers From The Sky?), which explained the arrowhead symbol as a function of mass, energy and velocity. Basically it went something like: as you approach the speed of light, the amount of energy required to push a mass approaches infinity. If you can change the mass to something less than zero, then the amount of energy required to accelerate past C becomes less than infinite, hence attainable.

Re:Higgs Boson=42? (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about 2 years ago | (#40632205)

If you had matter with a mass less than zero, you'd have the kind of exotic matter [wikipedia.org] that's necessary to hold open a wormhole.

(We do not have this, the Higgs mechanism does not describe, validate, imply, or even reference exotic matter, and none of this has anything to do with anything)

How well does it fly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40630589)

Will the Higgs Boson Disc fly farther than my Master Frisbee disc?

How much impact on throwing baseballs? (0)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 years ago | (#40630619)

Do you think this amazing scientific discovery of the Higgs Boson particle, with its implications for science and, specifically, gravity, will have any impact on how fast a man on the moon could throw a fastball?

Or would that only apply on Earth?

Applying the discover in engineering & tech (4, Interesting)

globaljustin (574257) | about 2 years ago | (#40630635)

Dr. Joe Incandela of UC Santa Barbara and CMS director said recently of the CERN Higgs results:

"This is so far out on a limb, **I have no idea where it will be applied**, We're talking about something **we have no idea** what the implications are and **may not be directly applied for centuries**."

(source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/04/stephen-hawking-and-higgs-boson-bet_n_1650024.html [huffingtonpost.com])

My questions: Do you agree that the direct application of the findings are as nebulous and abstract as he describes?

Please discuss the implications of your answer and how they relate to the economic choices of how humans use their scientific resources.

Re:Applying the discover in engineering & tech (1)

ThorGod (456163) | about 2 years ago | (#40631461)

Who ever perfects shooting mass-bearing particles first (i.e. protons and up), will have first dibs on the next generation of particle weapons. Imagine how much more effective a laser would be at destroying things if instead of firing pure energy it was firing a similarly coherent mass beam.

That ought to fund physics for another thousand years...

Re:Applying the discover in engineering & tech (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631543)

All the technologies you enjoy (TVs, internet, cell phones, automobiles, AC, etc.) were based on research that likely seemed frivolous at the time. To be fair there were probably many frivolous projects that failed after many man hours and big investments (turning lead into gold, time travel, perpetual motion machines, etc.).

Who's to say what technologies may lead to free clean energy, holodecks, a better iPad, or something we can't even imagine today? Declaring innovation, education, and art unaffordable luxuries make the future look grim indeed. The people who built the 1st computers thought world wide demand would only be 2-3 each year. It seems they were mistaken.

I *heart* science data (1)

globaljustin (574257) | about 2 years ago | (#40631873)

Hi AC, thanks for the response. I'd suggest re-reading my question, however. It seems you think I am trying to 'say' that LRC was a bad science investment. I think ALL scientific data is valuable...even erroneous data can be very valuable.

First, I'm asking, not telling here. I'm quoting and asking a question. No bias. I want to know **if** this scientist thinks what you are saying I am saying.

I don't know! That's why I asked...the quotation from Dr. Incandela (awesome name) provided the basis for my question.

Also, you're just wrong about history when you say the following,

"All the technologies you enjoy (TVs, internet, cell phones, automobiles, AC, etc.) were based on research that likely seemed frivolous at the time"

absolutely incorrect:

television - was an application of an electron gun technology that was not derived at all from any 'finding' of a new particle....the tech and science for it was there for at least 50 years

internet - laughable...no discovery in particle physics initiated the ARPANET research whatsoever

cell phones - I am assuming you mean 'cellular' transmitters and receivers placed in a geographic grid of 'cells' that allows the handset to stay wirelessly connected to a transceiver? B/c they were working on that at FERMILAB weren't they???

AC, etc...

Just so you know what actual particle physics application science looks like: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2406297,00.asp [pcmag.com]

Look back 50-100 years (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about 2 years ago | (#40632929)

The key to answering this is to look back 50-100 years. In 1912 the atom was a brand new discovery and quantum mechanics was still being figured out. At the time these were highly esoteric and abstract concepts. Applying that knowledge 50 years later was what made the transistor possible and hence gave rise to our modern IT infrastructure. But absolutely none of that was predictable when the discoveries were being made!

Particle detectors and physics of 50 years ago are now revolutionising medicine as doctor use them to see what is happening in the human body without cutting it open. So, while we cannot predict what use this discovery will be put to eventually, what we can say is that similar, equally abstract discoveries, in the past have helped to revolutionise our society. Our economy is built on using and applying basic science in ever more complex and wonderful ways. So if we want to keep this process running we had better keep fuelling it with new, fundamental science for it to learn and apply.

5 words, metachlorian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40630653)

If so they might be pissed that we took one out and we are screwed. Also possible we spent billions proving the existence of jarjar.

Should I Expect More Theories or Less Theories? (3, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#40630655)

With every passing news item about particle physics, it seems everyone's pet theory mutates or breaks off into different sects. I read some Brian Greene in high school and have since become a little flustered with string theory ... or rather the many variations. The cynic in me fears that any new information on the Higgs Boson (or lack thereof) will result in more not less theories that should unify the four fundamental forces. Could you explain how information on the Higgs (one way or the other) would rule out certain symmetries or models that many people have been theorizing? Can I expect this to at least reduce our set of possible theories and not just provide N more mutations for each existing theory that strives to account for what we just found? Or should I just buckle up for everyone pushing their version through these results no matter what they show?

Re:Should I Expect More Theories or Less Theories? (2)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#40630933)

I read some Brian Greene in high school and have since become a little flustered with string theory ... or rather the many variations.

What? You mean the idea that we are all points in a 2D information plane and that our perceived realty is just a holographic illusion doesn't make perfect sense?

Elaborate models with a thousand knobs to tune so it matches any possible experimental observation don't sit right with you?

You some kinda anarchist or something?

Re:Should I Expect More Theories or Less Theories? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40632885)

Finally. Someone that gets it.

Re:Should I Expect More Theories or Less Theories? (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#40631177)

'more' and 'less' don't need theories; we already have software implementations.

where does a proton get its mass? (2)

Speare (84249) | about 2 years ago | (#40630697)

The initial call for questions included a factoid that I had somehow missed in all the other layman summaries: "He is careful to note that while the researchers '[believe] that this new particle, with a mass 125 times that of a proton, is the famous Higgs boson,' they 'need to study that new particle more deeply in the next months to be conclusive on that.' "

I'm totally not familiar with the details here. For some reason I was expecting that the boson would be a much smaller thing, in the same scale as quarks or even strings, and that other particles including the proton would owe their structures to this. If the Higgs "explains" mass, to me that implies it is responsible for mass. How would you explain the mass of other massive particles like the proton? Or is comparing it to a proton not really accurate?

Re:where does a proton get its mass? (3, Informative)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#40631191)

I'm betting they're talking mass-energy when they refer to the particle's mass, that's the norm for particle physics, and one of the reasons masses are measured in GeV (technically GeV/c^2) instead of molar-masses or something as is done in chemistry.

Basically there are three distinct phenomena that all go by the name "mass" since, in all experiments to date, they are invariant with respect to each other.
(1) mass-energy: e=mc^2, how much energy would you get out if you annihilated the particle
(2) inertial mass - F=ma, how much an object resists acceleration from a force
(3) gravitational mass: f = G * m1*m2 / r^2, this is the gravitational "charge" that determines how strong the force of gravity between objects is, highly analogous to electrostatic charge though much weaker, to the point of being essentially undetectable in particle accelerator experiments.

From what I understand the Higgs field is probably responsible for the latter two, however the first is still an inherent property of the particle itself.

Oh, and incidentally top quarks are actually even more massive at 171GeV, and Bottom and Charm quarks are both pretty beefy at ~4.2 and 1.3 GeV, respectively, versus the puny 2.4 and 4.8MeV of the Up and Down quarks that make up normal matter (which actually gets most of it's mass from gluons) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark#Classification [wikipedia.org]

Re:where does a proton get its mass? (1)

avandesande (143899) | about 2 years ago | (#40631713)

The theory is the existence of the Higgs field and calculations predicted that under a set of conditions the Higgs Boson can exist.
So this is just one way of confirming the existence of the Higgs field.

Re:where does a proton get its mass? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#40631921)

Very rough and simple version: When particles interact with the Higgs field they get mass, the Higgs field is related to but distinct from the Higgs Boson. I'm not entirely sure on the details how the two (the field and the particle) are connected though.

Re:where does a proton get its mass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40632191)

The Higgs boson is an excitation of the Higgs field, just as a photon is an excitation of the electromagnetic field. The Higgs boson can have mass because it interacts with its own field. Ordinary matter, matter that has mass, such as our bodies, couches, houses, food, and land, interacts with the Higgs field. That interaction's result is a resistance to acceleration, and we interpret that resistance as mass.

Graviton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40630725)

What is next?

Funding impacts (2)

Takionbrst (1772396) | about 2 years ago | (#40630727)

Prior to the possible discovery announcement, the LHC was often called one of the last big science experiments of our generation--- big science being a casualty of recession budgets. Do you think this discovery might persuade governments to invest more in big/expensive/multinational investigations?

Wrong Mass? (1)

ShadowX85 (967526) | about 2 years ago | (#40630801)

Is not the Higgs boson like particle 133 times that of the proton, and a total mass of 125.3 GeV. Not 125 the mass of a proton?

Re:Wrong Mass? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631221)

Clearly they were reporting to 1 significant figure -- proton is 1 GeV, Higgs is 1000 GeV, ergo Higgs is 1000x the mass of proton (all in base 5). Whoever converted to base 10 botched it up bigtime.

What's the future of particle physics? (5, Interesting)

bugnuts (94678) | about 2 years ago | (#40630815)

Once this particle is examined, and let's assume it's the elusive Higgs, is there a continuing reason for large particle accellerators?

Basically, I'm asking in ignorance. If this confirms the standard model, what do you see for discoveries of this nature in the.future?

Re:What's the future of particle physics? (1)

ThorGod (456163) | about 2 years ago | (#40631121)

You can't ever confirm a scientific theory, but you can fail to disprove it.

There are still other theorized particles that no one has directly observed/created in a lab. One such: the graviton. Last I knew, the hypothesized mass of the graviton was prohibitively large (aka: we might need astronomically sized accelerators to generate them in a lab).

Re:What's the future of particle physics? (1)

Kookus (653170) | about 2 years ago | (#40631895)

Just like you can never confirm the theory of evolution right? Sounds like you really like to just make stuff up and post it. It's theorized that the graviton is massless, but it sounds better to make grandiose statements, doesn't it.

Re:What's the future of particle physics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40632653)

You should probably read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method

Re:What's the future of particle physics? (1)

PurpleAlien (797797) | about 2 years ago | (#40632757)

"Just like you can never confirm the theory of evolution right?" A theory holds up for as long as the evidence matches the predictions of the theory. As soon as experimental evidence shows inconsistencies with the established theory, the theory is either modified, or a new theory is build up to explain the new phenomenon as well as the phenomena covered by the previous theory. The same happened to Newton's theories about motion: they make sense for day to day world objects and serves that purpose really well, but breaks down at e.g., speeds approaching the speed of light. This is why the theory of relativity was developed (and at the same time replacing an older theory called Galilean invariance). Another theory that was completely replaced was the one describing motion of planets, for example the one by Ptolemy "Geocentric Theory of Planetary Motion", which got replaced by Copernicus. Theories can only be disproved. Confirmation of a theory holds up when the experimental results and theoretical predictions match, and it is impossible to do this for all possible situations, so we can only augment, improve or replace theories based on experimental results to get the most accurate model possible.

Question - Pragmatics (3, Interesting)

c0d3r (156687) | about 2 years ago | (#40630849)

In regards to the discovery of the Higgs Boson, what is an example of a practical application of this discovery. I find that physics is best explained with real-world examples.

Feynman diagrams (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40630853)

Using only Feynman diagrams, can you describe the best way to make fettuccine Alfredo?

Mass 125 times that of a proton? How? (1)

Dins (2538550) | about 2 years ago | (#40630885)

Probably a stupid question but I'm sure others wonder, too: How can the discovered particle have 125 times the mass of a proton when it was discovered by smashing individual protons together? In other words, prior to a proton-proton collision that creates this Higgs-like particle, where was the particle?

Re:Mass 125 times that of a proton? How? (2)

ThorGod (456163) | about 2 years ago | (#40631081)

I think it has to do with the equivalence between mass and energy, at the fundamental, quantum level.

See, they increased the energy on two protons beyond 125 GeV (where 125 GeV is the energy-equivalent of 125 protons, give or take). In any one collision at that energy there exist a number of possible results, and one such result was a particle with a mass of 125 protons. Via observing how that particle interacted with the universe (for as long as they could observe it) they deduced it's nature and whether it matched up with any relevant hypotheses.

Re:Mass 125 times that of a proton? How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631109)

E = mc^2

The protons in the LHC are flying very fast, and have a great deal of E to go with the
proton-rest-mass. When two of them, both flying within a tiny, tiny fraction of the speed
of light collide while going opposite directions, substantially more energy than just the
mass of the protons involved is involved. Each proton flying around the LHC has about
3.5 TeV of energy (from our perspective); smashing two of them together yields a
maximum energy of about 7 TeV. That's why the LHC is such a big machine -- it takes
a lot of space and a lot of RF energy and a lot of very powerful magnets to accelerate
two counter-rotating proton beams to those energies.

Re:Mass 125 times that of a proton? How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631775)

... as for "where was the particle", it was created out of the vacuum. As long as the
various quantities are conserved (charge, mass+energy, momentum, &c), any
particle can be created from the vacuum. Thus a (sufficiently energetic) photon
can convert into a positron + an electron (net chare = 0) or vice versa, and two
flying protons can convert into muons, anti-muons, pions, anti-pions, kaons, anti-kaons,
and a whole zoo of other particles, photons, and cascading decay particles.

Money causing a bias? (-1)

Bram Stolk (24781) | about 2 years ago | (#40630963)

So, with this astronomical cost (is it the most expensive experiment ever conducted?), does this give extra pressure to come up with results?
Or in other words: are scientists biased to 'see something' in the statistical data just because it was so damn expensive to run?

Disc is not shorthand for discovery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631011)

Don't start pretending that it is. Just type out a headline in a complete sentence. There is no shortage of words here -- you aren't tweeting or texting.

People on Slashdot are educated, and we don't need pointless abbreviations. Do your job, Timothy.

Re:Disc is not shorthand for discovery (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631141)

I believe the shorthand was for formatting purposing. You, me and everyone else knew what it meant so lighten up.

Inertial mass vs. gravitational mass (5, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | about 2 years ago | (#40631033)

The Higgs boson is famously associated with how particles acquire a 'mass'. But mass is, in itself, an interesting property. As I understand it, the Higgs boson is only associated with inertial mass. If this is so, do you expect gravitational mass and inertial mass to be always the same? If so, would you speculate on the mechanism that ensures this is true?

ECALCondDB (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631077)

Did the ECAL conditions database play an important role in this discovery? ;-)

– R. Egeland

Beyond the standard model (1)

anandrajan (86137) | about 2 years ago | (#40631129)

What kind of results will falsify the standard model Higgs - indicating that different theoretical approaches must be considered.

My question for Giovanni Organtini (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631301)

Whys-a my pizza come-a so late? Itsa been a half-a hour! Itsa all ice-a cold now.

I notsa pay you for the cold pizza!

Utsa matta fo you?

Cutting-edge science and science fiction (2)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#40631411)

There's a slightly fuzzy line between cutting edge science and "hard" science fiction. Do you find this generates noise which distracts from the science, or would you support increased collaboration between science and science fiction?

Higgs and the Ether (3, Interesting)

Liquidrage (640463) | about 2 years ago | (#40631445)

The likely Higgs discovery would seem to validate Quantum field theory.
Would this then be best described as an ether, only instead of matter traveling through the ether, matter is manifestations of the ether (fields) itself. Would this also than mean that the motion of matter is not a physical movement of a "particle" but instead the transfer of the "excitement" of a field from one spot of the field to another?

And what, if any, implications does this disocvery have for unifying gravity or other areas of physics?

Re:Higgs and the Ether (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631719)

Teleportation should be possible then

Higgs Boson / Higgs Field (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40631783)

Could you describe the connections between the Higgs Boson and the Higgs Field.

I, for one, am excited... (1)

chinton (151403) | about 2 years ago | (#40631877)

About the possibility for a Higgs Disc. Imagine, a frisbee that can fly not because of aerodynamics, but because it can manipulate its own mass!

Significance of Higgs Boson mass? (3, Interesting)

SpinyNorman (33776) | about 2 years ago | (#40631967)

As I understand it, a Higgs Boson compatible with the standard model could have been found at a range of different masses, and the search for it has involved searching the possible mass range until it was either discovered or not.

Assuming that this new discovery is indeed the Higgs Boson as predicted and compatible with the standard model, what is the significance of the particular mass that it has been found to have? Are there any macro-scale predictions that depend on its mass?

Symmetry breaking in fields (2)

slew (2918) | about 2 years ago | (#40632177)

It is my understanding that the higgs mechanism requires some sort of spontaneous symmetry breaking for the proposed higgs field to yield scalar mass.
Is this somehow related to symmetry breaking in other fields in the Standard Model (e.g., Spin0/hypercharge)?

Also, might there be a whole spectrum of scalar properties like mass that might exist from symmetry breaking in other Standard Model fields that might be discovered that could explain currently un-unifyable parts of theoretical physics (e.g., matter/antimatter ratio, gravity, dark energy, etc), but still within the general framework of the Standard Model? Or is the Standard Model essentially doomed with respect to these currently un-unifyable observations?

Laws of physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40632235)

Might it be possible to alter the laws of physics one day?

Nearly unstable vacuum (1)

Karma Bandit (1305259) | about 2 years ago | (#40632261)

I've heard that the mass is right on the edge of what would make the vacuum state of the universe unstable. Are there hints to possible new physics here, or any interesting speculation as to a reason why? Do any GUT models predict this careful balancing?

How do you feel about... (3, Interesting)

solidraven (1633185) | about 2 years ago | (#40632351)

How do you feel about the fact that a large portion of the CMS was built by recycling military hardware? Do you see it as a sign that the world is finally moving towards peace and that large scientific projects like the LHC are helping it along that path; Or do you find it disappointing that it was the only option to acquire the necessary materials?

SSC (3, Interesting)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | about 2 years ago | (#40632919)

Had the superconducting supercolider (SSC) been completed in the USA in the 1990s, would it have found this particle? Even with a 20 year technology advantage, LHC has taken some time to get there.

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