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back to article The Higgs boson search continues ... into ANOTHER dimension

Now that all the fanfare over the sighting of a Higgs-like boson in the Large Hadron Collider has died down, CERN scientists have a few burning questions about the particle. The gigantic proton accelerator will be shut down this year, but physicist Paris Sphicas told The Register the boffins should be able to gather enough data …

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Oh.. alright..

Remember light flickin' out at a constant? Well, I'm sorry... matter just does a similar thing ok? Its pretty obvious if you think it through..

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Paris Hilton

Re: Oh.. alright..

I DONT UNDERSTAND ANY OF THIS SHIT I THINK I SPEAK FOR ALL MANKIND WHEN I SAY IF SOMETHINGS TOO SMALL TO SEE THEN IT DOESNT MATTER

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WTF?

Re: Oh.. alright..

Go back and live in your cave then

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Silver badge

Re: Oh.. alright..

Glad to know that the smallpox virus does not matter then.

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Re: Oh.. alright..

"CERN scientists have a few burning questions about the spotted particle"

It isn't too small to see - they can see the spots on it. Some of the others have stripes. It's all a cosmic game of pool.

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Re: Oh.. alright..

So micro-organisms don't matter...? :)

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Re: Oh.. alright..

So Einstein only had it half right - it's not dice, it's pool!

PS Bring back Calculator Corner :)

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Holmes

@Big Bumb Guy 555

That statement would apply exclusively to your brain. Other things too small to see can and do matter.

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Holmes

This is the best explanation of what the Higgs boson is, why it's different to the Higgs field and why it all matters:

The Higgs Boson, Part I

The Higgs Boson, Part II: What is Mass?

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Anonymous Coward

Worldwide collider project

Is the vacuum of space good enough at reasonable altitudes to send particles right around the earth using orbiting magnets?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Worldwide collider project

how about a giant space ring, so big that not only does it house the collider, but it's big enough to contain all the equipment for doing the experiments, and also habitable so that the scientists can live on it. Sounds like a good idea to me.....

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Re: Worldwide collider project

judging by cosmic rays, definitely.

And in fact a space based instrument of magnets might be ale to capture and collimate those in order to make extremely high energy beams without the expense of having to generate them in the first place

Hmm I should patent that.

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Re: Worldwide collider project

Think it might actually cost more and be much harder than a massive collider.

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Re: Worldwide collider project

... so you are gonna finance it??

But I think the interference in space would be far too much.. AFAIK isnt that the reason the LHC was build underground??

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Re: Worldwide collider project

Short answer...yes. To get to grand unification energy, you need a particle accelerator the size of the solar system. That was Hawkings' suggestion anyway. he didn't think we'd get one anytime soon though.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Worldwide collider project

"Is the vacuum of space good enough at reasonable altitudes"

No. There's WAY too much still there, even several thousand miles up. Resistance from residual atmosphere and solar wind are significant factors in satellite lifespan, even at 22000 miles. When you are whizzing particles around at .99999999C you want them to hit stuff ONLY where you have detectors, and ONLY stuff that has a known make-up.

To get the kind of quality vacuum you have in a particle accelerator, you'd have to be outside the heliopause - say hi to Pioneer and Voyager while you're there.

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Joke

Re: Worldwide collider project

The only way to accurately understand how the universe works would be to get a full-scale working model and then study that. So what we need, really, is something that is just as big as the universe, looks just like the universe, and behaves just like the universe.... where could we find one of those???

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Re: Worldwide collider project

Richard Branson might be up for it - not sure about Rupert Murdoch.

Oh, magnets - sorry, I thought you said magnates...

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Anonymous Coward

Is there an end point?

I'm not a particle physicist, so this may seem a silly question, but is there an end point? A point at which we will no longer find any new particles? A point at which we can explain how everything comes from nothing?

Will we look back in 1000 years on today's notions of dark matter and think of them as we currently think of ancient beliefs that lightning was Zeus's doing?

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Re: Is there an end point?

Well, we've not reached it yet - and that's about the best answer you can get, most likely!

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Silver badge

Re: Is there an end point?

I don't think, philosophically, there can be an end point.

None of these entities exist, all we have is detectable phenomena and a the superposition of a mathematical noumenon to account for them according to the presumed ubiquity of Causality.

If you like each layer of noumenal 'reality' requires - necessitates - a further dimension in order to 'cause' it. So long as you stick to the principle that nothing happens but that something causes it. I.e. there is, implicit in the principle of causality itself, an infinite chain of causes leading in any given direction to a Prime Cause.

In the time direction, we get the Big Bang, or God,, depending on your point of view. But what 'caused' the big bang? Or God? We have to posit some higher dimension outside the known universe, or ditch causality itself.

Eastern mysticism does that of course. The Tao is held to be 'that which exists through itself'. The causeless cause of everything else.

Douglas Adams posited a bunch of pan dimensional white mice..

Pastafarians allude to multiple dimensions of tightly coiled spaghetti.

Really its a free choice. But perhaps we should start to question why we see the world as a lot of bits interacting with each other, along law-constrained causal lines. Is it really like that? Or is that merely the best approximation we can hold in our heads to account for its observed nature?

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Pint

Re: Is there an end point?

Well there doesn't seem to be one yet, but bear in mind this is all models, theories and ways of describing (pretty accurately) how the world around us works. There may well be a point at which the lower levels gets to the point where the details are irrelevant to the conditions we experience.

It's a bit like asking "what happened before the big bang", it really doesn't matter (and in our concept of time, can't be answered), but if you consider the events to be "outside" the big bang, they could have no influence on events inside it, and thus are irrelevant to the models we need to predict our universe.

I realise now that I've waded so far out of my depth, I'm breathing through a straw, so I'll back out now.

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Boffin

Re: Is there an end point?

Big Fleas have little fleas,

upon their backs to bite them.

Little fleas have smaller fleas,

and so on ad infinitum.

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Re: Is there an end point?

I've often wondered if Godel's Theorem applies. If we consider physics model X to be a mathematical system in which questions can be asked and results proved, and if physics model X includes the ability to do arithmetic within the model (i.e. using experiments to do sums), then Godel's Theorem seems to imply that physics model X has to be either incomplete or inconsistent. Incomplete meaning some questions cannot be answered; inconsistent meaning you can solve the same problem two ways and get different results.

Science prevents physics model X from being inconsistent - if an inconsistency were found, it would be known to be a flawed model (c.f. physics model X = general relativity + standard model).

The universe's own physics is by definition complete - every experiment has a result.

So, if the true laws of physics are consistent, this seems to induce an infinite chain of physics models X,Y,Z, each a meta-model for the previous one (c.f. general relativity being a meta-model for Newtonian grativation) and each getting closer to, but never quite reaching, the truth.

OTOH, with quantum weirdness and all, it may be that the universe is not consistent (in the sense of Godel's Theorem) since the same question can give different answers at different times. In that case, there could be a complete theory of everything, only thanks to quantum weirdness.

And perhaps that ultimately explains why the universe has to have quantum weirdness.

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Boffin

Re: Is there an end point?

In fact there is an end point. It is the point at which the energies of the interacting particles are such that their Compton radii become equal to their Schwarzschild radii. Beyond that, it is not possible, even in principle, to make build any apparatus to make sense of what (if anything) goes on.

But that is a LONG way away from what exists at present.

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Alien

"what happened before the big bang"

I have a little theory on this... not based on any actual data, but would actually fit with actual probabilities...

ok, so the universe is expanding.., we have stars being born, living their lives, and exploding, some into super novas, some into red jiants, some into white dwarfs, and some into black holes...

black holes wander the cosmos, sucking up matter... it has a massive gravitational field so big that light cant escape...

as time goes by, when all the stars have burned themselves out, it is likely that all that will be left is black holes wandering about, smaller ones attracted to the larger ones .... (would one black hole consume another?)

eventually, I would imagine that there would be one black hole left, crushing and compressing the entire content of the known universe into a tiny particle with a enormous mass.... that well,,, explodes with a big bang.... scattering everything across the universe....

maybe this has happened before.... several times....

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Re: Is there an end point?

here is a good interactive flash about the scale of things, from size of the galaxy down to veeeeeerrry smalll ... :)

http://htwins.net/scale/

(you can select different 'versions' inside... :) )

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Happy

Re: "what happened before the big bang"

...Bang/Crunch/Bang/Crunch/... not a new idea. I recall musing on the possibility of sentient entities that might persist through Bang/Crunch cycles. Aye them were't days, lad, the days of shrooms and poses.

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Silver badge

Re: "what happened before the big bang"

Interesting theory, with only one problem. No one has yey worked out if there is enough matter in the universe to cause it to collapse.

One intersecting theory states that should the universe start to collapse then time would run backward.

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Boffin

Re: "what happened before the big bang"

Actually (in theory) black holes evaporate, albeit very slowly for large ones. (In practice, we don't have any black holes that we can observe in enough detail to know). Anyway, as they evaporate they spit out photons, and so the end-point of the universe is a sea of stable particles, mostly photons, spread very thin by the expansion of space-time.

The other thing that seems to be happening is that the expansion of space-time is accelerating ("dark energy"). This is observational astronomy, not theory. This might mean that the ultimate end comes much sooner (relatively speaking - mere gigayears or terayears - tomorrow is unlikely but not impossible) when the velocity of every particle in the universe with repect to every other particle becomes greater than the speed of light. All interaction ceases, there are no events left to happen, the universe is done. Everything is past. Time, and "what happens next?", no longer have meaning.

(There's no ban in relativity on purely geometric speeds in excess of the speed of light - the framework can expand faster than the speed of light. That's why we talk of the known universe, because there may be parts of the whole universe that are receding from us at greater than the speed of light, which we'll never be able to see unless the expansion slows down or reverses).

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Silver badge

Re: Is there an end point?

It's also possible to have no end-point or start-point, if time, space and any other dimensions that may exist are all cyclic.

This is not a popular viewpoint, given the overwhelming evidence that about 20 Gyears ago, the entire universe was compressed into a very matter-dense, very hot, very small and very ordered volume. We call that the big bang. Nevertheless, it's huge leap from that, to assuming that it all originated in a mathematical singularity some tiny fraction of a second earlier. That's a leap from the unknown to the fundamentally un-knowable. From something that might one day be understood by observation and deduction, to something that absolutely cannot be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Is there an end point?

Given what we know and what we theorize, the smallest things that make any sense to talk about are one Planck length big. That's about 1.6*10^35 meter - about 1/(5*10^19 ) of the "width" of a proton, so we have a long way to go before we get that small.

And the assumption that the Planck length is the limit is due to our current understandings of gravity and mass at small scales - and we KNOW we don't have a good theoretical model that merges General Relativity (gravity) with Quantum Mechanics (mass and small stuff). When we find that theory that lets us deal with both in the same set of equations without it blowing up in our face with infinities and negative probabilities, we may discover that you cannot get that small, or that you can get much smaller, or that there are more dimensions in Heaven and Earth than are drempt of in our philosophies.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Re: "what happened before the big bang"

Not every celestial object has enough mass to become a black hole.

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Re: @Nigel 11

Apart from that, the "uniform sea of low-energy photons all outside each other's light cone" final end state idea depends on proton decay, which is not demonstrated to happen. So, no Big Rip.

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Re: "what happened before the big bang"

Black holes evaporate...

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Re: "what happened before the big bang"

As I understand it (as a non-expert) dark matter holds structures such as galaxies together while dark energy causes the accelerating expansion of the space-time in between the blobs of dark matter.

In addition, the nature of the "foaming" universe includes pairs of virtual particles that pop in and out of existence and that normally annihilate each other - except when they're sufficiently close to the event horizon of a black hole (naked singularity), at which point one of the pair may be captured and separated from the other sufficiently that the remnant virtual particle becomes real.

This seems to me to suggest that matter is constantly being added to space-time. If this happens outside a blob of dark matter, then there is presumably no real net effect - the new particles will simply move farther away from each other.

However, if it happens inside the blob of dark matter, then although black holes may evaporate over a long period of time (shorter if they're microscopic) there will be a constant supply of fresh matter, potentially capable of forming new solar systems and galaxies (with new black holes) within the increasingly isolated islands of dark matter.

There seems to be evidence for the existence of at least one or more additional dimensions (whether of space or time or both, I'm not sure), allowing the possibility of connections beyond our presently-observable universe, but whether that helps or hinders our ability to predict what is likely to happen, I don't know.

And now I can't remember where I was going with this...:)

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Re: Is there an end point?

But perhaps we should start to question why we see the world as a lot of bits interacting with each other, along law-constrained causal lines.

"Start"? We have multiple centuries-old philosophical traditions that question causality, not to mention 90% of sophomores rediscovering the idea.

Most of them quickly come to the conclusion that without some set of axioms to tie phenomenology to a rational description, you can say anything you want. That's of limited utility.

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Joke

Mirror universe particles...

...will be recognisable due to their little goatee beards.

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Thumb Up

Re: Mirror universe particles...

You guys, are my best friends, through thick and thin, we've always been together.

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Holmes

Re: Mirror universe particles...

I have a little goatee beard. Now I understand why everything here is backwards!

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Re: Mirror universe particles...

I've got a bearded goat - brother.

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Not yet confirmed:

"...questions about the spotted particle." , "...the spotted Higgs-like boson ..."

It is not certain that the spotted Higgs boson has been observed. It could be the lesser-spotted, the striped or the tufted boson. Further and more detailed observations and measurements are need.

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Happy

Re: Not yet confirmed:

Not to mention the unladen mass of an African boson vs a European boson.

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Re: Not yet confirmed:

As long as its not the dreaded double horned triple breasted Boson of Eroticon V, we can all rest easy in our beds.

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Trollface

Re: Not yet confirmed:

>double horned

do want!

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Re: Not yet confirmed:

...or the North American boson...

...or the boson of the lifeboat...

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Anonymous Coward

I note that someone has drawn a picture of a dinosaur head on the wall in the top photo

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Coat

It's a dinosaur-like head. We're not yet sure whether it is the expected dinosaur head, or something more exotic like a dragon. We have to make some more measurements first.

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