If people still wore as many hats as formerly, CERN would have seen plenty of caps in the air when the latest Higgs boson results were announced. The LHC data is still shy of certainty: as spokesperson Fabriola Gianotti says in this video, a lot more measurements will be needed, but those measurements are going to concentrate on …
We're all gonna die
Seriously however, this is amazing work. Keep it up fellas, and keep us posted.
Lets just hope Europe falling into the drain will quash spending on this project...
I can't begin to imagine the possibilities
Being able to manipulate mass in the way we do electricity or light- I wonder if the BOFH would feel the need to replace his magnetic pinch with a bosonic pinch? Mind you, fitting the LHC into a suitcase may be problematic.
I'm just doubtful we'll see much domestic use out of this research in our lifetimes...
"If people still wore as many hats as formerly"...
... So are you saying that people aren't wearing enough hats?
With apologies to Python (Monty)
So did you ask the CERN boffin....
....when we can expect a handheld zero point energy field manipulator? I've just removed a bathroom at home and there's a toilet just asking to be launched at someone.
Higgs boson particle
I'm not very keen. We've already got one.
(I told them we already got one!)
He says they've already got one!
Well, can we come up and have a look?
Who needs more?
Sold "As Is".
"The Higgs doesn’t live very long"
Not all of them. Like the one I have here. Gonna put it on eBay.
At the risk of re-igniting the "black hole" conspiracy-theorist...
In the midst of the word he was trying to say
In the midst of his laughter and glee
CERN had softly and suddenly vanished away
For the Quark *was* a Boson, you see...
I'll get my coat now.
One of my favourite poems!
Well that tells us what the new physics is
Its not the first time that poem has been used for particle physics. Star Trek did it with the Wrath of Khan (book version, I don't think it was in the film). So the new physics: Instant terforming device!
I think you did a great job of explaining it in lay terms. Much better than most other publications where they either give one sentence explanations that tell you nothing, or über-explanations that leave you feeling like your head will explode.
Saw a headline about this on the beeb this morning and thought "ah good, El Reg'll do this properly later."
Thanks, that was a really good read.
Now, if they can just use the results to work out how to negate gravity we can have our flying cars.
Two brief comments
Firstly, this by no means is a "detection" of any sort. At the best you could describe it as "suggestive". I'm a cosmologist, and particle physicists have mocked us frequently for relying on 3 sigma "detections". Now they hold a press conference and send the world's media into a tizzy for a global 1.9 sigma??? It's suggestive and if you forced my opinion out of me it's that probably, yes, there is a Higgs of some sort at ~125GeV not least because as a cosmologist I'm used to seeing 2 and 3 sigma, but it's very, very far from a detection.
Secondly, “I can’t tell you what new things will come out of the completion of the Standard Model, but they will be amazing.”
Yes, just as soon as all of us can carry a TeV scale accelerator in our pockets. The Standard Model has been known for a long time. Any low-hanging practical applications would have been done now anyway, detected Higgs or no Higgs. We built nuclear bombs before proving experimentally that the neutrino existed.
We built nuclear bombs before proving experimentally that the neutrino existed?
Last time I checked my garage bomb plans no neutrinos were required to make it go boom .... enough neutrons but no neutrinos.
They're a part of the reactions
the theory needs them
also, i should probably hold off posting until the coffee's kicked in and i'm in better moods :)
The papers were going to be published anyway
The papers that show a suggestion of the Higgs boson were going to be published anyway even though they are less than 3 sigma. Nobody has said it's been detected - I'd have thought you, as a scientist would have noticed that - just that the range of energies where it could be have been narrowed and there are some interesting peaks in that area.
It's exciting not because it's been proven, but because it's looking very much like it will be by the end of next year when they have enough data to go beyond 3 sigma.
It's a narrative; the hunt is closing in and we'll probably find out for (near-)certain soon. I, for one, find this interesting.
re: two brief comments
>Secondly, “I can’t tell you what new things will come out of the completion of the Standard >Model, but they will be amazing.”
>Yes, just as soon as all of us can carry a TeV scale accelerator in our pockets
Why does it have to fit in a pocket to be useful? Unlike many articles around here this one isn't aimed at those who think technology==mobile phone.
I'd be happy with (for example, not saying its what we'll get or that its even possible) a wormhole generator that took about the same amount of space as Heathrow airport but let you go on holiday to Mars instead of Spain (with an added benefit of not having to eat the inflight 'meal').
Plenty of people have said it's "detected"
The scientists themselves were very careful not to and I'd not actually be surprised if they held the press conference mainly out of a contractual obligation - but the press have hyped this up enormously, and headlines of "Higg's boson detected", "Higg's boson glimpsed" and "Higg's boson seen" have been pretty common.
I posted early in the morning in a bad mood, which is never a good idea if you want to write rational, reasoned contributions...
I think I was slightly misunderstood
which is understandable since my post was a lot more aggressive than it should have been. I find it extremely interesting. Personally I've never been totally comfortable with the Higgs and would be extremely happy (and fascinated) if it *doesn't* exist -- it would open up vast swathes of theoretical physics to reanalysis, and I'd dearly love that. Finding a light Higgs, or a composite Higgs, likewise opens up a lot of new physics, although not necessarily of a kind I'd enjoy doing - which doesn't mean that I wouldn't find the results of those who *do* enjoy it equally fascinating. Finding a bland, bog-standard SM Higgs would be a major success and very worthy of being celebrated (and it would guarantee a good few people Nobel prizes, or it should, although I'd be interested to see who would get them), although it would be a minor disappointment in terms of *new* physics.
I guess I just strongly overstated the point that it's not really a very significant detection and as a result it's not that interesting; and in my field we've heard from particle physicists for a long time that our results are laughable because they're only 3 sigma or whatever. A colleague of mine commented yesterday "The integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect is still more [statistically] significant than the Higgs", which kind of sums it up for us.
I was being facetious :)
I'm very dubious about any practical application of the SM emerging because I'd be pretty sure that it would have done already. I'm exceptionally dubious about any wormholes (to hold a wormhole open, so far as we can tell you need exotic matter - so with a very negative pressure, akin to "dark energy" - and that's not in the SM either).
If something *did* come along I'd be delighted, but I think trying to sell the idea to the public that research into modern high-energy physics will lead to practical advances is over-selling things a bit. We're better off the way we're looking now, going to smaller and smaller scales at low energies, rather than basically hoping that something is going to come out of extremely high-energy physics that's actually practical or useful, even on an international scale. It just takes too much energy, too much money, even if there *were* something practical that could come out of it... and we don't know of anything at the minute regardless.
It doesn't mean I think research into high-energy physics is pointless; quite the opposite. Just that I don't think selling it as "this could have profound implications for everyone!" [not a direct quote; I'm grossly overstating his position] is particularly helpful.
Fair enough :)
As for wormholes, I don't expect them either. Just the first thing I thought of which would be useful even if needing a big device and which we don't currently have.
If we could fidn a way of holding a wormhole open
and it took up as much space as the Sahara I'd be all in favour of it. What's the Sahara ever done for us, anyway?
Great. Now we get to be exterminated by pissed-off aliens covered in sand......
Unfortunately, the universe may give you the big F.U.
There may be no "new physics" (and certainly no *usable* new physics) - the Standard Model might be approximately correct (it certainly is not fully correct as it has trouble with neutrino masses for one) up to and exceeding all energies reachable in colliders -- forever.
You would get the expected Higgs Boson and that's it. No more opening Christmas Boxes. One would be reduced to practicing numerology and group theory in the dark forever (as well as make shocking obedience to small, ruguous and squamous statues depicting the stringy multiverse). There would still be hope for interesting data in astrophysical measurements, maybe.
But no Minovsky particles or anything. Which is the "desert hypothesis". As possible intro at: http://arxiv.org/abs/0708.3550
Lots of unexplained observations remain.
We already know lots of stuff outside the standard model.
Gravity, for a starter. One of the most stunning numbers in physics is 10^38, the ratio of the strength of the Electromagnetic force to the Gravitational one. You don't really understand anything about matter, until you appreciate that the electromagnetic force between an electron and a proton is that many times stronger than the gravitational force between the same.
Then there's dark matter, inferred from the observed nature of galaxies and the impossibility of binding them gravitationally if what we see is all there is. (There are good theoretical reasons why it can't be lumps of non-luminous ordinary matter, sized somewhere between marbles and Jupiters).
And "dark energy", needed to explain why the universe appears to be not only expanding but accellerating.
We might get lucky and spot a particle or three of dark matter in the CERN detectors. (Oddly that may be more likely while the LHC is down than when it's up). Or careful observations of the things we know it can manipulate may help pin down a better theory that in turn will guide our observations. (It's easier to find a needle in a haystack if you come to suspect it may be magnetic).
And if those neutrinos really are going faster than light, it's time to tear up all the theories and start again.
Thanks for a proper explanation, great article with links that contain the detail. Popular press has been a bit lacking around this story.
You managed to avoid the apparent temptation of sticking the word "god" in the article.
Respect for El Reg returns.
you missed the opportunity to piss off an AC. For shame!
Top article - thanks
and from the physics standard model link :-
"I can't remember what they mean anymore, but I can't bear to part with them."
Should be a line from the BOFH about his children.
How to pronounce boson
Can anyone here shed some light on this? When it (and other boson particles) first started to be mentioned on science programmes on television, it was pronounced bozon. However, news readers in particular (pun not intended,) have been recently referring to the Higgs boatswain. Which is correct?
Re: How to pronounce boson
Well it's almost Friday.
I've never heard a native English speaking physicist pronounce it without a zed in the middle.
The newsreaders who pronounce it with an 's' are also telling us that this new discovery will produce faster mobile phones and better medical treatments. I think that tells you all you need to know.
It's named after Satyendra Nath Bose. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyendra_Nath_Bose
Unfortunately that doesn't tell us how he pronounced his name. Anyone know the right pronunciation? I'll guess at halfway between English "s" and "z"!
... as if it was the elementary particle that bozos are composed of.
Northerners, haircuts, BBC science reporting, narcissism, Brian Bloody Cox, Kirsty Wark, Emily Maitlis, Newsnight, English degrees and finished off nicely with a non related question aimed at the BBC.
In just two paragraphs as well, couldn't have done better myself!
"listen to the northern drawl"
I hope they are wearing lead underpants in CERN
So the Higgs weighs about the same as two copper atoms ... and on decay pumps all that energy into two photons? Makes gamma rays look positively puny. What kind of frequency are those photons at? Do they have a name?
Gamma rays all the way up. Boring but true.
"Do they have a name?"
I'd certainly call them at least "Sir"
It's pair-production, so I imagine one is "Ma'am", given the symmetry requirements.
Maybe not so boring
Can it be gamma rays *all* the way up? At some energy you'd have a photon with more energy than the entire observable universe. Maybe the entire universe, if it's finite. This isn't pedantry at all, if the whole universe did start very small in the big bang.
Some (exotic, unproved) theories suggest that photons of sufficient energy may travel slower than low-energy light. Slower-thn-light photons, sort of a counterpart to faster-than-light neutrinos? Observations of the next supernova may throw some , er, light on this.
"given the symmetry requirements."
I take your point,of course, but I don't see the symmetry if only one has "dangly bits"
Nice post, Richard !
A minor caveat : you write that «[t]he “signature” that distinguishes a Higgs event from a quark collision is this: the Higgs converts all of its mass – obeying e=mc2 – into energy in the form of the photons; and the colliding quarks have much lower mass». Most quarks, as shown in this table (http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/particles/quark.html) are estimated to have masses in the MeV range, or some three orders of magnitude less than that hypothesised for the Higgs boson, but Bottom quarks are in the GeV range, and Top quarks, at an estimated 172 GeV, would actually be more massive than the Higgs boson. In any event, nice work at Cern ; it will be interesting to see if subsequent data will push the degree of confirmation to the desired 5σ....
"new physics starts now"
Well I thought 60ns faster than light results might have had some impact....
Or perhaps the work on could formation being driven by Galactic cosmic ray input.,,,
So, in Star Trek, Geordie extrapolates an entire invisible (light phobic?), alien from a holovised photographic shadow mismatch. It were a good ep!
Brilliant read, thanks.
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