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Higgs Data Offers Joy and Pain For Particle Physicists

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the good-and-bad dept.

Science 186

scibri writes "So now that we've pretty much found the Higgs Boson, what's next? Well: 'There's going to be a huge massacre of theoretical ideas in the next couple of years,' predicts Joe Lykken, a theoretical physicist at Fermilab. The data has shored up the standard model, but technicolor is dead and supersymmetry is starting to look pretty ropey now. Theorists are now poking at the mathematical chinks in the standard theory in the hopes of being the first to find a deeper truth about how the Universe works."

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Stopped reading at "Mathematical chinks" (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706007)

C'mon slashdot, you're better than that.

Yes I'm being funny (or trying to).

Re:Stopped reading at "Mathematical chinks" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706039)

So I've been trying out the developer version of OS X Mountain Lion and here [imageshack.us] is a shot of my desktop. LOL how could anyone *really* work like this? Apple is clearly integrating the wrong aspects of iOS into OSX.

Re:Stopped reading at "Mathematical chinks" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706101)

What is Apple thinking?
That's the most disgusting thing I've ever seen!

Re:Stopped reading at "Mathematical chinks" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706169)

So I've been trying out the developer version of OS X Mountain Lion and here [imageshack.us] is a shot of my desktop. LOL how could anyone *really* work like this? Apple is clearly integrating the wrong aspects of iOS into OSX.

NSFW picture.

Re:Stopped reading at "Mathematical chinks" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706201)

I hope you die of AIDS this year, you sick little faggot.

Re:Stopped reading at "Mathematical chinks" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707211)

Goatse is FAR worse

Re:Stopped reading at "Mathematical chinks" (0)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706653)

Not cool man.

Re:Stopped reading at "Mathematical chinks" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707111)

asshole

Re:Stopped reading at "Mathematical chinks" (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706083)

C'mon slashdot, you're better than that.

Yes I'm being funny (or trying to).

Is there any kind of chink other than a mathematical chink?
As far as I can tell, they all seem to be pretty smart.
Maybe that's why we're losing face in the race to a space base.

Re:Stopped reading at "Mathematical chinks" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706875)

I rather poke at the mathematical cunts.

Re:Stopped reading at "Mathematical chinks" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40708679)

You might want to rethink that. Seriously, do you really want to get it on with a chick who'd be able to tell you to the nearest millimetre just how small your penis is compared to her previous experiences?

Re:Stopped reading at "Mathematical chinks" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707113)

"The amount of data collected by LHC in one year of data-taking is on the order to 3 petabytes per experiment"

So, which one is it? Is 3 petabytes per year? Or 3 petabytes per experiment?

What if one experiment takes one second? (One collison) That makes it 3 petabytes x 60 * 60 * 24 * 365. That would make it one hundred million petabytes.

Re:Stopped reading at "Mathematical chinks" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707585)

I will continue the line of brilliant jokes.

"PETAbytes? So we're talking, like, three quarters short of a normal byte?"

I for one welcome the death of String Theory (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706011)

I for one welcome our Higgs Boson overlords and the subsequent replacement of String Theory with the more sound concept in Physics of Stringy Cheese Theory.

I'd like mine with mushrooms, thanks.

Re:I for one welcome the death of String Theory (1)

dpilot (134227) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706195)

I'm just wondering how "The Big Bang Theory" is going to respond to all of this when next season starts. Will Sheldon be devastated, will he defend String Theory against "this silly, inept Higgs experimental data," or will he somehow hop on the Higgs Bandwagon?

Re:I for one welcome the death of String Theory (2)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706367)

I'm just wondering how "The Big Bang Theory" is going to respond to all of this when next season starts. Will Sheldon be devastated, will he defend String Theory against "this silly, inept Higgs experimental data," or will he somehow hop on the Higgs Bandwagon?

I think he will rail against it at first, but his gf will convince him to change. After a few mild electric shocks.

Re:I for one welcome the death of String Theory (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706897)

Hey, I thought string theory wasn't falsifiable. Did you guys figure out something last time I looked at it?

Re:I for one welcome the death of String Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707351)

Yes, you effect things when you observe them, but c'mon. You're not THAT important.

Re:I for one welcome the death of String Theory (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707461)

String theory has many, many variations. Falsifying them means first narrowing down which variations just might have some correspondance to physical reality, then finding ways to test those further. All the ones that we could call interesting (because they might fit 'objective reality for this universe'). involve very high energies, so we can't build an accelerator nearly powerful to test them by that particular method. That's not the same as being untestable - for example, a particular string model might make predictions about something else, like Proton decay, that we can test. Some versions imply things about cosmolgy that we can test by astronomical observation.
      The point is, that we probably won't test all the variants much or at all. Sometimes, a physicist may decide to toss out a bunch of variants because the equations look needlessly complex or full of fudge factors - scientists often look for certain types of style or form in fundamental equations, as when Einstein decided to not add the complexity of a Cosmological constant to General Relativity. It's not the same as doing a scientific test for falsifiability to just decide not to look at the more complex equations at all and hope you will either find something going through the more beautiful and elegant versions, or shoot them all down, and then some grad student can try some of the more complicated variants.

Re:I for one welcome the death of String Theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40708193)

Hey, I thought string theory wasn't falsifiable. Did you guys figure out something last time I looked at it?

Of course it is falsifiable.
You just have to choose wisely which universe among the 10^500 possible ones you're using to describe our universe. The inability to do just this is what leads to a model which "predicts" everything and the contrary of everything under the sun.

Re:I for one welcome the death of String Theory (3, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706225)

Did you miss the part about "looking ropey"? That's String Theory on Steroids.

Re:I for one welcome the death of String Theory (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706377)

Did you miss the part about "looking ropey"? That's String Theory on Steroids.

or, as I said, Stringy Cheese Theory.

hold the anchovies.

Did we really find it? (2)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706025)

From what I understand it was only one single experiment that showed us something that we think is where/what the Higgs Boson would look like.

Has it been reproduced or confirmed?

Scientists using the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva have announced the discovery of a new subatomic particle to very high confidence that is consistent with what we expect the Higgs particle to look like.

That's not very definitive. Can anybody else around well versed in particle physics tell us if the Higgs has really been found or not?

Re:Did we really find it? (2)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706049)

From what I understand it was only one single experiment that showed us something that we think is where/what the Higgs Boson would look like.

Has it been reproduced or confirmed?

Not yet, but soon!
I'm building my very own Large Hadron Collider in my backyard in order to try to reproduce the results.
Of course I don't have superconducting magnets, but I'm hoping that by using ALL the the letters of the alphabet I can get close enough to the required field strength.

Re:Did we really find it? (4, Informative)

Goaway (82658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706077)

It is not confirmed, but it is not expected to not be confirmed, so nothing lost by starting on the theoretical work ahead of the confirmations. In the unlikely case it turns out to be something else, we can just start over.

Re:Did we really find it? (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706397)

nothing is lost, except for when using the unconfirmed information to discredit opposing theories...one of which may well be more right than the standard model. But otherwise, yeah...nothing lost, we're good to go.

Re:Did we really find it? (4, Informative)

As_I_Please (471684) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706475)

Discrediting a theory isn't a permanent thing. Any theory can be brought back if evidence warrants it. Even Einstein's "biggest blunder," the cosmological constant, is now the most popular theory to explain the universe's accelerating expansion.

Re:Did we really find it? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706657)

In the unlikely case it turns out to be something else, we can just start over.

So we can spend millions of dollars, and perhaps billions if a huge linear accelerator is built, going down the wrong track instead of waiting a few months or years to confirm the single experiment. IResearch funding should be spent on confirmation rather than advancement based on a single experiment.

Re:Did we really find it? (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707309)

The difference isn't where funding will go. This will impact what the theoreticians are doing for a year or two if it doesn't end up getting confirmed. The primary cost in that context will be for chalk and erasers.

Re:Did we really find it? (5, Informative)

insecuritiez (606865) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706313)

It's unknown but really likely. There is definitely a particle at around 125 GeV but there certainly is a (very small) chance it could be something else.

The standard model predicts a number of different ways the Higgs Boson can decay and what probability it has for each type of decay.

The most common easy to measure decay modes are:
Higgs -> Two Photons (high energy gamma rays)
Higgs -> Two W Bosons -> 4 leptons (electrons or muons)

So what they are actually seeing is the decay products and they measure the energy of each component of the decay and add that up to find the original energy of the Higgs.

The measurement of the two photons is called the "gamma-gamma" channel or "diphoton" channel. They call the 4 lepton channel the "golden channel" because it's a pretty clean signal with a low "background" (noise). That is, they get a good signal to noise ratio from the 4 lepton channel.

The theory says that the two photons should happen a certain % of the time and the 4 leptons should happen a different % and the other decay modes should happen with other probabilities.

One of the reasons to believe they have found the Higgs boson and not some other particle is that the decay relative rates for each type of decay are pretty close to what the theory suggests.

The best way to study the Higgs would be to produce lots of them accurately without producing other particles. The best-known way to do that is with a linear collider that smashes leptons (usually electrons) together. They can tune the energy of the collisions to the exact value to produce Higgs. This is how the W boson was studied so accurately at SLAC. A new international linear collider (ILC) would need to be built to reach the energy levels needed to make the Higgs. Luckily, it's a pretty low and easy to reach energy compared to what it could have been which makes an ILC somewhat reasonable to build.

Re:Did we really find it? (2, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706407)

A new international linear collider (ILC) would need to be built to reach the energy levels needed to make the Higgs.

. . . so we built a billion dollar ring, that told us, that we need a straight line . . .

Brilliant!

Re:Did we really find it? (5, Informative)

insecuritiez (606865) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706457)

The LHC was built to find any new physics, not just the Higgs. The fact that we've been able to rule out SUSY for large mass ranges is part of that. To measure the specific properties of one particle though does need something a bit more purpose-built. They'll be able to measure a lot about the Higgs boson but not anywhere near as much as a linear collider could measure.

Also, for part of the year they stop injecting protons and instead inject lead nucului. This is meant to measure extremely messy but very high energy collisions that should generate quark-gluon plasmas.

Decay channels not rates (5, Informative)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706719)

One of the reasons to believe they have found the Higgs boson and not some other particle is that the decay relative rates for each type of decay are pretty close to what the theory suggests.

Actually that is not really true because we do not have enough statistics to measure these rates with any accuracy. In fact the "most likely" value for diphoton rates for both ATLAS and CMS are quite a bit higher than the Standard Model predicts but the accuracy is sufficiently low that they are not yet inconsistent with the SM values. So really the rate measurements are currently far too inaccurate to have any idea whether this is a Higgs boson or not but things are improving rapidly as we gain statistics.

What is far more important at the moment are the decay channel observations. Since it decays into photons, W and Z bosons we know it must be either a spin-0 or spin-2 particle and it cannot be a fermion (spin-0.5). The Higgs should be spin-0 so this is consistent but not conclusive. Essentially it decays into the particles it should do and it _potentially_ has the correct spin. We can get a more accurate determination of the spin i.e. whether it is spin-0 or spin-2 by looking at the angle between the two leptons (electron or muon) produced in the WW decay channel - expect results from ATLAS and CMS on this soon.

However by the end of the year the rate measurements should be a lot more accurate and things will possibly start to get interesting if the current diphoton rates stay where they are but we end up with less uncertainty on the measurement.

Re:Did we really find it? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706937)

A few corrections:

Higgs -> Two W Bosons -> 4 leptons (electrons or muons)

This is actually H -> ZZ -> 4 leptons [wikipedia.org]

This is how the W boson was studied so accurately at SLAC.

I believe this is also incorrect. The W boson was discovered at Gargamelle and studied at LEP, CERN.

Re:Did we really find it? (2)

insecuritiez (606865) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707497)

Yeah you're right, it is H -> ZZ -> llll

The WW decay is H -> WW -> lvlv

Sorry about that.

You're also right about it being LEP and not SLAC that studied the W boson with so much accuracy.

Thanks for the corrections.

Re:Did we really find it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707801)

Y U NO SAY WHAT "v" STANDS FOR?? ;)

Re:Did we really find it? (3, Informative)

slew (2918) | more than 2 years ago | (#40708401)

The "v" in the context of W decay to "lv" is a neutrino ("v" is a close approximation to the lowercase N or Nu in greek ν)

Re:Did we really find it? (5, Informative)

bledri (1283728) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706333)

From what I understand it was only one single experiment that showed us something that we think is where/what the Higgs Boson would look like.

Has it been reproduced or confirmed?

...

That's not very definitive. Can anybody else around well versed in particle physics tell us if the Higgs has really been found or not?

I think that the announcement is based on a couple of years of data collected by two different teams using different methods, so calling it a single experiment seems a bit of an over simplification. See Higgs Discovery: The Data [profmattstrassler.com] blog entry by Matt Strassler.

learning by smashing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706347)

Learning about the universe by smashing particles together, over and over millions of times, is like learning how to text message by smashing a cell phone into the pavement over and over again. Sure, you see all the broken pieces, so you know more than before but you don't really understand how a cell phone works, or how a cell phone is used to send a text message.

Re:learning by smashing (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706415)

This is an idiotic analogy. This isn't about breaking things, it's about reproducing the kinds of conditions necessary to observe phenomena. Do you feel the same way about dissecting animals to learn about internal structure or heating various substances to get spectral signatures.

If you're going to confirm or throw out a model of subatomic physics you're going to have to use accelerators to produce the conditions where particles can be observed.

Re:learning by smashing (1)

darenw (74015) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707923)

Indeed. It's more a matter of finding at what pitch an object resonates, like the opera singer and the wine glass. Er, wait, no, that's still breaking things...

It's like launching a rocket at the right speed and direction to get to Mars, or cooking food at the right temperature for best results, or leaning a two-wheeled vehicle just right to go around a curve, or tuning a musical instrument to blend in with the band to make a smoother sound. Something has to be adjusted to achieve a certain condition. Then, when things are in that condition, it's about transformation not breaking.

A cell phone (it was a wristwatch in the old days) is made out of many parts which come apart and themselves can break, while a Higgs boson (or any other particle found by tuning beam energy) isn't made out of anything but itself, but given the right conditions may replace itself with a any set of particles that add up to the right energy, momentum, spin, charge and other quantum numbers.

Re:Did we really find it? (1)

DMUTPeregrine (612791) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706593)

It was TWO experiments (ATLAS and CMS, both at the LHC) that confirmed a new boson. It is very likely to be a Higgs.
Whether it is a Standard Model Higgs or not is the current big question.

It has been reproduced (2)

doru (541245) | more than 2 years ago | (#40708609)

The data obtained by two independent experiments (CMS and ATLAS, both at the LHC) is in excellent agreement for the mass of the particle. The results are also coherent with those obtained by two experiments (CDF and D0) based at the Fermilab. Something has been found, with a very high statistical relevance (five sigma level, so there is only a chance in a few million that this is a fluctuation). Whether this something is indeed the Higgs boson as predicted depends on its detailed behaviour, so it will take more time to find out. It does however look like it, or a close relative...

Re:Did we really find it? (1)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40708627)

The higgs has definitely not been found. They only found a particle that looks like the higgs at some mass. If you saw the conference that announced the new "particle" none of the people behind the table said that they found the higgs, they kept on repeating that they found a new particle. To verify whether or not it is the higgs, you need to study the individual channels and verify if they belong to a higgs interaction or not ( and this will take time ). But I repeat we have no proof that this is the higgs.

Re:Did we really find it? (1)

PiMuNu (865592) | more than 2 years ago | (#40708661)

No it was really two separate, independent experiments, CMS and ATLAS. Both reported discovery independently at the 5 sigma level (10^-5 probability of error or whatever it is). Both discovered a particle at the same mass, within experimental error. There was no shared knowledge or data between the analysis teams. They were working on the same accelerator (LHC), but at different points in the ring, so no cross talk or anything is possible between the two experiments (several km of rock in the way). The only thing they have in common is that the same protons were whizzing around.

Re:Did we really find it? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40708703)

only one single experiment

Actually, it was two different experiments: CMS [wikipedia.org] and ATLAS [wikipedia.org] . The LHC is the big ring-like structure that accelerates particles around it; CMS and ATLAS are two detectors at different points on that ring that watch as the particles collide with each other. Both CMS and ATLAS have detected a new particle, with the same mass (~125 GeV), with about the same significance (~5-sigma, or about a 1-in-50-million chance of getting that result by chance).

The mass is about what the standard model of particle physics predicts for the Higgs boson, so it looks very much like this new particle is it. But the physicists are being careful not to state outright that they've found it, because there are certain properties that the Higgs is expected to have - charge, spin and parity, I think - which they haven't been able to measure yet. When they've got enough data to measure those, and if they match what the Higgs is supposed to have, then they'll state that they've definitely detected it.

When the string-theory gets ropey... (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706033)

I, for one, will pull my hand back from that pair of trousers!

Really? (5, Funny)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706051)

Theorists are now poking at the mathematical chinks

I realize Asians are known for excelling at math, but do we really have to bring race into this?

I'm very, very sorry. I couldn't resist. I understand I'm a terrible person, you don't need to reply and tell me that.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706159)

Mathematical gooks? Oh. Goofs.

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706723)

You're a terrible person.

Re:Really? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707179)

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707255)

She looks really cute in it

Re:Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707279)

You are one nasty nerd. Hehehe.

That's racist!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706063)

>> poking at the mathematical chinks

Not all Maths graduate students are Chinese, you know.

Re:That's racist!!! (2, Funny)

busyqth (2566075) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706127)

>> poking at the mathematical chinks

Not all Maths graduate students are Chinese, you know.

That's true. It's only the good ones.
(They're especially good in wector calculus.)

Re:That's racist!!! (2)

fido_dogstoyevsky (905893) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706271)

>> poking at the mathematical chinks

Not all Maths graduate students are Chinese, you know.

That's true. It's only the good ones. (They're especially good in wector calculus.)

No, that's actually a Russian specialty.

Is that permitted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706153)

poking at the mathematical chinks

I hope I'm not coming across as prudish, but isn't that illegal?

Seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706167)

Theorists are now poking at the mathematical chinks

Really? The stereotype is bad enough, but now we're physically harassing them too?

brilliant, clap, clap (-1, Flamebait)

eyenot (102141) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706199)

I love how authors at Slashdot will resort to using phrases like "Pretty much!!" to more or less gloss over facts like how the Higgs Boson is still nowhere near being anything more material than a theoretical particle resting on pure conjecture made up by actual existing humans who are merely uncomfortable with how dark the universe is. Religious believe in God, too, and are "Pretty much!!" sure there's no doubt God ever existed, though there's no concrete evidence that God does or ever did. I believe Stephen Hawking had something to say about Religion, along the lines that it's a fairy tale for people who are afraid of the dark. I'm surprised he didn't state something similar in dismissal of the Higgs Boson and the rest of the Dark Matter bandwagon.

Re:brilliant, clap, clap (2)

grouchomarxist (127479) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706375)

The experiments indicating the existence of the Higgs Boson at now at 5 sigma, which validates the "pretty much" qualification for particle physics.

The existence of God fits into a entirely different ontological category. There are no experiments you can perform to confirm or invalidate the existence of God.

Re:brilliant, clap, clap (4, Interesting)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706907)

> There are no experiments you can perform to confirm or invalidate the existence of God.

Actually there is. Unfortunately it requires death as that results of that experience and the aftermath will provide all the proofs and more then one person could ever dream that indeed your consciousness simply changes state after death, and that there is a super-consciousness to the sub-consciousness of everyone. *Unfortunately* getting the results of said experiment back to the living is the catch. The other "kink" is that: Besides if you already knew the answer, it would (mostly) invalidate the purpose of being human in the first place.

The other way would be to learn meditation and learn how to interact with your True Self. Again, unfortunately one could spend an entire lifetime before ones "get confirmation" that there is indeed far, far more to "who you truely are."

The point though, either way the answer is largely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. There are indeed many good people of all kinds of beliefs, faiths, and lack of said beliefs and faiths. If one has to rely on an external force / rules to be positive internally methinks one is the missing the *whole* point of religion which is little more then spiritual kindergarten. At some point one doesn't need others telling you to internalize how to treat others with respect, kindness, etc.

The ignorance and arrogance of man is to simply assume that some questions are unknowable. They may not be easy to get, but they are indeed there if one dedicates their life to seeking them. Again, the proof of this, sadly, is also going thru the death experience.

It is simpler to "just get on with life" - learning and loving. That's what its all about at the end of the day -- creating positive relationships with everyone else.

The instant someone is trying to "sell you" a philosophy is the instant it would be good to be skeptical of their agenda.

Re:brilliant, clap, clap (3, Interesting)

grouchomarxist (127479) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707599)

It is essential to science that experimental results are public and repeatable. What you are talking about doesn't fit into those categories. Perhaps you could call it knowledge, but it isn't knowledge in the ordinary sense.

If I had a dream where I met Satan and he told me his favorite shampoo, you could call that knowledge, but it isn't knowledge in the scientific sense, or even common sense.

Actually... (4, Insightful)

Immerman (2627577) | more than 2 years ago | (#40708719)

While disproving the existence of God is effectively impossible - proving it does exist would actually quite simple, provided you had His/Her/Its/Their cooperation. The fact that their is no credible evidence the existence of God suggests that either:
1) It doesn't exist
2) It doesn't desire to prove Its existence, or
3) It's incapable of proving Its existence

Considering we're talking about a being who most claim created the universe and intervenes in peoples life in ways both subtle and miraculous, number (3) seems unlikely - even just having one of his chosen messengers take part in a double-blind psionics test while God read out the cards to them would be enough to give the question serious scientific merit.

Now (2) could very easily be the case, and is in fact perfectly consistent with some faiths. But in that case I would suggest that either It doesn't actually care about our worship, codes of conduct, or the other stuff religions tend to obsess over, or It's a complete jerk: "Yeah, I know it's been a hundred generations or so since I bothered to offer any evidence that I even exist, much less which of the hundreds of continuously-mutating religions I endorse, but you didn't follow the right one so you're getting eternally condemned anyway".

Which leaves (1) as the default assumption. Either God doesn't exist, or It wishes us to be free to conduct our lives as though it does not - in which case spreading the "Good Word", especially through coercion, would seem to run counter to God's will.

Re:brilliant, clap, clap (5, Interesting)

Teresita (982888) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706435)

Uh, I hope you realize that Dark Matter doesn't have anything to do with the universe being "dark". Besides, it's not dark in the microwave band anyway. The Dark Matter "bandwagon" is trying to account for 23% of the mass of the universe which does not interact with the electromagnetic field, and hence is "dark". Much of this is hot dark matter consisting of neutrinos (generated by the conversion of a proton into a neutron) and antineutrinos (generated by the conversion of a neutron into a proton). These reactions were known in the Twentieth Century. Neutrinos have a very low rest mass, and travel at just under the speed of light. So infrequent are their interactions with normal matter that a neutrino would be able to pass through a light-year of lead with no scattering events. That leaves warm dark matter (with velocities from 1 to 10% of c) and cold dark matter (with velocities below 1% of c) to be discovered. The negatinos and positinos of supersymmetry theory were promising in this direction, but apparently have been falsified. But no one is "afraid".

Re:brilliant, clap, clap (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707815)

A 'skeptic' who denounces a claim without investigating the evidence is mearly an opinionated contrairian. Maybe if you acted like a real skeptic, the failure of Hawkings to denounce the Higgs and Dark Matter would be less surprising.

The real takeaway (4, Insightful)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706233)

I predict, over the next two years, what's going to come out of this is the following:

Physicists will have poked holes in most all the prevailing Standard Model-compatible theories, and will start talking about the inadequacies of the LHC and how we need a much bigger collider to prove or disprove the existence of those elusive super-partner particles required by supersymmetry.

Re:The real takeaway (1)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706311)

More like, we will find that quantum physics and standard model don't actually differ, but only in observation.

Re:The real takeaway (4, Informative)

Guy Harris (3803) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706605)

More like, we will find that quantum physics and standard model don't actually differ, but only in observation.

They differ by virtue of belonging to different categories of things.

Quantum physics is a general framework that encapsulates a number of particular physical theories, including quantum electrodynamics (interaction between charged particles and photons), quantum electroweakdynamics or whatever it's called (throw in the W and Z bosons and neutrinos on top of quantum electrodynamics), quantum chromodynamics (interaction between quarks, bearing a charge called "color", and gluons, the force quanta for the field generated by that charge), and the standard model (quantum electroweakandchromodynamics). So the standard model is a quantum theory, and thus falls under the general heading of "quantum physics" (as do atomic physics, nuclear physics, most if not all of what's called "condensed matter physics", and so on).

Re:The real takeaway (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706999)

While you can SM = Quantum Theory, the Standard Model is badly *incomplete*.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beyond_the_Standard_Model [wikipedia.org] ... needed to explain the deficiencies of the Standard Model, such as the origin of mass, the strong CP problem, neutrino oscillations, matterâ"antimatter asymmetry, and the nature of dark matter and dark energy. Another problem lies within the mathematical framework of the Standard Model itself â" the Standard Model is inconsistent with that of general relativity to the point that one or both theories break down in their descriptions under certain conditions (for example within known space-time singularities like the Big Bang and black hole event horizons).

Let alone the Fine-Structure Constant, of which Feynman wrote:
âoeItâ(TM)s one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the âhand of Godâ(TM) wrote that number, and âwe donâ(TM)t know how he pushed his pencilâ(TM)â (QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, page 131, Princeton, 1985)

Non-borked Feynman quote (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707291)

For those who want to pretend they understand:

It has been a mystery ever since it was discovered more than fifty years ago, and all good theoretical physicists put this number up on their wall and worry about it. Immediately you would like to know where this number for a coupling comes from: is it related to Ï or perhaps to the base of natural logarithms? Nobody knows. It's one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the "hand of God" wrote that number, and "we don't know how He pushed his pencil." We know what kind of a dance to do experimentally to measure this number very accurately, but we don't know what kind of dance to do on the computer to make this number come out, without putting it in secretly!
                On the numerical value of α[ed: alpha], the fine-structure constant, p. 129

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Richard_Feynman [wikiquote.org]

PS - Whiners may wish to note Taco's response to a question in yesteday's Reddit AMA regarding lack of Unicode on Slashdot:

Ihmhi 3 points 2 days ago

One last one because I can't resist!
Why did you guys get rid of ASCII/unicode support? Sure there were some nasty ASCII posts, but it also removed the possibility for creativity. It seems a bit stifling at times, and it's funny to me that there's a website in 2012 that can't handle, say, Japanese characters.

CmdrTaco 4 points 2 days ago

Jerks ruined it for everyone.

ref [reddit.com]

Re:Non-borked Feynman quote (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707981)

That's the same excuse any dictator uses, to suppress freedoms. Same as "The terrorists ruined flying for everyone".
No they did not. It was Taco's incompetence/laziness in looking up the concept of "Unicode blocks" and filter both all chars <32 and those blocks that are for control characters.
Because that's all that's needed. Other blocks don't contain any characters that can mess up anything! Such a separation in groups is the whole point of those blocks.
And because he's from the US, he didn't have to give a fuck.

Meanwhile, everyone else can do do it. Which is expected, since it's obvious how to solve it, if one understands Unicode blocks.
So there's no excuse. It's just FAIL.

Re:Non-borked Feynman quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40708217)

So there's no excuse. It's just a failure.

FTFY

Re:The real takeaway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707939)

the strong CP problem

Those perverts!

Re:The real takeaway (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706399)

You don't think we're already at that stage? LHC, being a hadron machine, is great for discovery but not so great for fine-detail studies. Now we know where to look we can build a leptonic machine to give us a closer look at that energy range so we can work out what kind of Higgs we've got ourselves.

Re:The real takeaway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40708161)

upgrades of the LHC are already proposed to increase both energy (up to ~33TeV) and luminosity.

TF is Technicolor? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706263)

TF is technicolor?

You can't kill SUSY (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706343)

Every new discovery of the past few decades has supposedly "killed" SUSY, but every time it makes a comeback with a modification to avert whatever problem the observation caused. Other theories do the same, to a slightly lesser extent.

I don't see why Technicolor is dead. The Nature article makes the claim that it's because Technicolor is Higgsless, but that's something of a falsehood. Technicolor lacks an elementary Higgs, because the role played by the elementary Higgs in the Standard Model is instead played by a composite particle. As far as I can tell it's perfectly possible that the bosonic state at 125GeV is a composite rather than elementary Higgs.

(FD: I'm a PhD student with a thesis area based around technicolor)

Infinitely Unfalsafiable Theory (0)

mbkennel (97636) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707265)

sociology with a few arbitrary symmetry laws.

Re:You can't kill SUSY (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707441)

Thanks for your comment. I was somewhat disappointed to hear about the Higgs when I realized it meant technicolor was dead, but now I have hope that it isn't dead yet.

Where's the pain? (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706351)

I understand that it would be frustrating to see years of labor on a theory go down the tubes, but at its root the finding means that we now have a slightly better understanding of reality. I would think that for many if not most people in the field, if the implications are as stated in the summary, this is exciting because we have a better idea of what direction to theorize in. Falsification is just as if not more important than making hypotheses.

Re:Where's the pain? (1)

bunratty (545641) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706569)

Every baby that dies is a win for evolution. But that's not how the baby sees it at all, nor the parents!

Re:Where's the pain? (1)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706743)

I understand that it would be frustrating to see years of labor on a theory go down the tubes, but...

Ever since relativity and quantum theory came along, a lot of physicists have been looking for nifty or non-intuitive explanations for things. They keep looking for unexpected stuff in contrast to the "standard model". You know "new physics" is a common term and probably helps to get funding. The more exotic hypothesis (I won't give them the satisfaction of calling them theories) have been people hoping for something exotic in physics that they can be associated with and they are now getting the message "STFU" from the experiments and it sucks for them.

Re:Where's the pain? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40708415)

I understand that it would be frustrating to see years of labor on a theory go down the tubes, but...

Ever since relativity and quantum theory came along, a lot of physicists have been looking for nifty or non-intuitive explanations for things. They keep looking for unexpected stuff in contrast to the "standard model". You know "new physics" is a common term and probably helps to get funding. The more exotic hypothesis (I won't give them the satisfaction of calling them theories) have been people hoping for something exotic in physics that they can be associated with and they are now getting the message "STFU" from the experiments and it sucks for them.

Physics, even Theoretical Physics isn't reduced to High Energy Physics. There is plenty of fascinating stuff going on in other branches of physics, so lets just leave these high energy crackpots to themselves. If they want to go on working on models that never predict anything so be it. The problem is that high energy theoretical physicists have put all their eggs in the same basket (String Theory) to the detriment of everything else. So of course they're pissed when an experiment comes along that points to supersymmetry being absent. Without supersymmetry you can't have a non contradictory String Theory.

Maybe (1)

eclectro (227083) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706413)

So now that we've pretty much found the Higgs Boson

Maybe the Higgs Boson wanted us to think we found it.

Re:Maybe (1)

sconeu (64226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706787)

No, it just wants you to think *THAT*.

Summary of the Higgs Boson "Finding" (1)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 2 years ago | (#40706523)

consistent with The Higgs Boson

The short version of what scientists are *actually* saying boils down to:

We theorised where IT would be and when we finally looked THERE we found SOMETHING which isn't Absolutely Not IT.

Reports I've read (forgot URLs, sue me) indicated the result found was NOT exactly as expected, but also not so massively different that they'd be sure it was NOT The Higgs.

More like:
Scientist1: Yup, that's the Higgs!
Scientist2: But I thought you said it'd have black spots not very very dark brown.
Scientist1: Well if we'd solved everything then what are we going to do after that?

Higgs discovery is the nail in the coffin of ST (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40706869)

String Theory has failed to even generate a single definitive prediction after 44 years of hype.

ST is gonna go down in history as one of the biggest wastes of money and human potential ever.

It's equivalent to religion since nothing in ST is (currently?) falsifiable and you have to believe in it to work on it.

Holy crap (4, Funny)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707065)

"Higgs Data Offers Joy and Pain for Particle Physicists"

"Joy and pain"? Jesus, what are they doing, tying the boson in a knot and putting it up their bums? (I guess it would have to be a "boson's knot").

Instead of the God Particle, they could call the "Oh God! Particle".

[note: I only make this kind of off-color joke because it's past 9pm and the children have all gone to bed. I call this the "safe harbor" hours, when normal FCC rules moderating online behavior are relaxed, like a sphincter with a Higgs Boson in it. Thanks to these safe harbor rules, constitutionally-protected free speech rights of adults are balanced with the need to protect children from harmful content, like the word "fuck" and references to tying massive particles in knots and putting them up one's bum and then pulling it out slowly as climax is achieved (thus the expression "string theory"). Two physicist doing this while standing face to face are called a "Hardon Collider", named for the famous Scottish physicist Sir Ivan Hardon (1847-1903) who first posited that there's nothing else to do while waiting for the experiment to finish and there were so few female physicists back then that, hey, what happens in the lab stays in the lab. Tragically one of his experiments exploded while Hardon and a lab assistant were engaged in this act of outrage and since they had their pants down both of them got kilt.]

Re:Holy crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40708749)

Instead of the God Particle, they could call the "Oh God! Particle".

We already have an "Oh-My-God particle". It was a cosmic ray [wikipedia.org] (a particle from space, probably a proton) that hit the atmosphere with a billion times as much energy as the LHC can achieve.

Schrodinger Scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707169)

So, are the physicists happy and sad at the same time? Makes sense... and not.

This article differs (1)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 2 years ago | (#40707375)

from every other article I've read on the topic, which say that the measured mass of the Higgs boson is exactly where it should be if the Minimally Supersymmetric Standard Model is correct; and too low for any non-supersymmetric theory.

http://motls.blogspot.com/2012/07/why-125-gev-higgs-boson-isnt-quite.html?m=1 [blogspot.com]

Re:This article differs (1)

Tough Love (215404) | more than 2 years ago | (#40708727)

the measured mass of the Higgs boson is exactly where it should be if the Minimally Supersymmetric Standard Model is correct

That doesn't sound right to me. I think "not ruled out by" is more accurate characterization than "exactly where it should be". The so called Minimally Supersymmetric Standard Model definitely did not predict the Higgs' mass.

Submission for the Journal of Improbable Physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707445)

Theorist #1: "We have analyzed the Higgs Boson data, and the answer is 42."

Theorists #2, 3, 4 ... 500 :"Oh #$!@. Now the bloody question changed!"

Is mass loss in nuclear fusion just Higgs drag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40707623)

Let's say you have an atom consisting of 1 Proton (1P). You also have an atom consisting of 1 proton and 2 neutrons (1P 2N). Let's say you bang these together to create 2P2N.

This apparently causes a decrease in mass, which is converted to energy.

Since mass is apparently simply drag in the Higgs field, could it be said that there is something about 2P2N that makes its drag smaller than the sum of its parts, hence the rest is released as energy? That lead is the ultimate smooth sailer in the Higgs field, and as atoms on the lower side come together or on the higher side split apart, they enjoy a stepwise decrease in their drag?

That in E=mc2, the important bit is really the c^2, because in order to create particles with mass you need not only the corresponding building blocks, but also c^2 of energy to couple the created particles to the Higgs field? Why does this coupling take the speed of light squared and not cubed?

Re:Is mass loss in nuclear fusion just Higgs drag? (4, Interesting)

dido (9125) | more than 2 years ago | (#40708385)

The three valence quarks inside a proton for instance have a rest mass of only 11 MeV/c^2, which they get by means of the Higgs mechanism. The rest of the 938 MeV/c^2 that is the full rest mass of the proton is its quantum chromodynamic binding energy, that is the energies of the gluons that are keeping the three quarks together, so the Higgs mechanism accounts for only 1% of the mass of a composite particle like a proton. Not all mass is drag in the Higgs field. It is by no means the final word on the origin of all mass. If the Higgs mechanism was the only way particles could acquire their masses, then the neutrino should have zero mass, and well, it doesn't [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Is mass loss in nuclear fusion just Higgs drag? (2)

Tough Love (215404) | more than 2 years ago | (#40708701)

Since mass is apparently simply drag in the Higgs field...

Ah, I don't know anything about this to speak of, but obviously mass is not drag. Drag always slows things down while mass has momentum which tends to keep things going. I'm afraid the drag thing (journalists hanging onto thus slowing down celebrities) was just a crude analogy sombody cooked up in a press conference to try to explain the abstract mathematical nature of what is really going on to journalists and other mere knuckle draggers like myself. Frankly, I think they need to get back to the drawing board and cook up a better metaphor.

What does it actually mean? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40708061)

Writing as an engineer not a physicist, what does it actually mean though.
For the sake of keeping things simple, I'm going to assume in this post that they have found the Higgs boson (lets pretend they walked up to it and looked between its legs to check).
Now.
What does it actually mean for me as an engineer?
From what I've read they've shown that something that something they were assuming to exist for their model to work, does in fact exist. Where does that actually get them besides saying "Well chaps. It looks like the model is right. As you were." (or what ever the Swiss version is).
Granted they can write plenty of conference papers and journal articles and get more grants etc, but aside from that what?

What I'm trying to ask, is, how does showing that something they were relying on existing actually exists helpful?

There obviously is a deeper theory (1)

Tough Love (215404) | more than 2 years ago | (#40708655)

Obviously, there is a deeper theory because the Standard Model makes no attempt to explain why the elementary particles have exactly the masses they do, just to mention one huge gap of which this armchair physics watcher is aware. It's about time for another Einstein to come along and deduce it.

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