back to article Higgs boson hunters have god particle in their sights

The Higgs boson has been glimpsed by boffins at CERN who are now much closer to pinning down the particle after crunching through hundreds of gigabytes of raw data. Previous work at CERN over the summer had whittled down the mass range in which the Higgs was most likely to be found, with the results presented by Fabiola …

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  1. Vortex
    Thumb Down

    They cannot be serious

    If I am not mistaken that slide uses Comic Sans....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      .....and to compound the crime they used the unholy trinity of lime, fuchsia and aqua as background colours.

    2. HMB

      Comic Sans

      I would have thought this to be quite obvious.

      There's a fine line between genius and insanity. The use of Comic Sans just shows how fine that line can be.

    3. Graham Hawkins
      Thumb Up

      If I am not mistaken that slide uses Comic Sans....

      Yeah - but the colours are nice...!

    4. Code Monkey
      Windows

      "I don't understand the physics so I'll comment on the font"

      TBH I've been doing the same myself.

    5. Kristian Walsh

      Sweet...

      Comic Sans on the most important physics discovery this year. As an occasional graphic designer with a real love of type, I can't say how happy this makes me feel. And I'm not being in any way sarcastic.

      This slide could have been scrawled in dry-wipe marker on a sheet of acetate, and people would still pay attention.

      There's a lesson in there.

    6. Paul RND*1000

      And these people have a particle accelerator? Maybe we *should* be worried...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I reckon they're probably better particle physicists than most graphic designers so I'm not too bothered.

      2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        Yin and yang

        It's to preserve the balance of the universe - God Particle, Devil typeface.

  2. Jedit
    Angel

    "Too early to draw definite conclusions"

    Translation from Science to English: "We need a bigger grant".

    Interesting news, though.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      not necessarily bigger -

      maybe just "we need another grant - my postdoc who does half of the work is running out of funding, and the graduate students are too busy writing up to do their other half. I'd like to do it but I'm far too busy writing the grant (along with the soon-to-be financially stricken postdoc, that is)".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Value for money

    Oooh, three for one, annoying the fundamentalist religious nutters by probing the secrets of the universe, annoying the 'serious' scientists by calling it the God particle and annoying the design zealots by using Comic Sans. LHC I salute you, worth every penny on so many levels.

    1. ZankerH
      Boffin

      Seriously, I wish they stopped using "god particle". It doesn't convey any useful information, it's nonsense and it gives religious people scary ideas about CERN. I propose we use the original provisional designation instead - "the goddamn particle".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Me too but....

        It seems we're having a science revival with pop science and the really really lovely Prof Brian Cox riding the crest of a really really big wave and if the price of inspiring a new generation of scientists is having to use a silly name for an elementary particle then I'm all for it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Last sentence

    Would flow so easily from the mouth of Collaterlie Sisters. (Look her up!)

    1. lpopman

      titular nonsense

      "Let's take a look at the currency cat. Chris."

      Actually, I wonder what Peter O'Hanrahahanrahan would make of it?

      "Peter, you've lost the news!"

      The Day Today - News from telly to belly.

      1. Audrey S. Thackeray

        Because Fact Into Doubt Won't Go.

  5. Bluewhelk
    Boffin

    That's a lot of collisions

    From our friend Wikipedia...

    One inverse femtobarn is equal to around 70 million million (70 x 10^12) collisions

    Whew!

    1. rurwin

      The 70x10^12 figure applies only, I think, to the LHC. It depends on the beam size.

      It's like measuring precipitation by looking at the window and counting the number of rain-drops that land on it. The longer you watch, the more you will see. The bigger the window, the more you will see. The faster the rain, the more you will see. So you can measure the amount of rain that has fallen by recording rain-drops per square centimetre. Our window might be a square metre, but if we are recording raindrops per square centimetre, then ten thousand drops of rain will have to hit the window before we count one raindrop per square centimetre. -- one inverse square centimetre,

      One femtobarn is an area of 10^-43 square metres. To channel Carl Sagan for a moment, that's one, ten million billion, billion, billion, billionth of a square metre. It's quite small. The 70 million million figure tells us that the beam cross-section is 70 million million femtobarns, or 70 millibarn. 7x10^-30 square metres.

      So the LHC's window is 7x10^-30 square metres, and there are 11 million rain-drops hitting it every second. It still takes over two months to get one rain-drop per femtobarn.

    2. Audrey S. Thackeray

      So how big a banjo to you need to hit one of its doors?

  6. Pete 2

    Gives mass to other particles?

    So how can a 126GeV boson impart mass to an electron with a rest mass of 0.51MeV?

    Do you need to get lots of electrons together into some sort of timeshare - where they each get 2 weeks of the boson every year (actually, with that provisional energy, it would be more like 2 minutes per year, than 2 weeks).

    1. fLaMePrOoF
      Boffin

      The Standard Model theorises that spontaneous electro weak symmetry breaking is produced by the Higgs Field, the field it's self cannot be observed or detected but if the theory is corect ten the Higgs boson (or boson's) must exist so observing / detecting the Higgs boson would prove the existence of the Higgs field.

      El' Reg, along with much of the rest of the press, continue incorrectly attributing the Higgs boson with the property of 'lending mass' to other particles when this is simply not the case.

      Neither is it true that the Higgs boson is referred to as the 'God particle' because of this misunderstood property as this article suggests, but rather Nobel Prize winning Physicist Leon Lederman wanted to call it the 'Goddamn particle' in a book but was forced by his publisher to change this to 'God particle', a term which he himself now abhors.

      1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re:

        Thanks for the feedback - I'll keep it in mind.

        C.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Dirk Vandenheuvel
    Facepalm

    Wow... ugliest slide evar???

  9. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
    FAIL

    Comic Sans == Credibility Fail

    They really ought to include PowerPoint training in science degree courses nowadays...

    1. Chemist

      "They really ought to include PowerPoint training"

      They really ought to discourage PowerPoint usage in science degree courses.

      Fixed it for you !

      1. Paul RND*1000
        Happy

        @chemist

        "They really ought to discourage PowerPoint usage"

        That's much better.

    2. TheRealRoland

      How so?

      Instead of presenting the data, we need more animations, use of clipart, and all that?

      Granted, this is not up (down?) to the level of readability suitable for Daily Mail, Fox and other 'news outlets' -- but to have to follow 'powerpoint training' ?

      I'm glad they're not spending their grant money on things such as coming up with a Style guide, with colors that 'soothe, while still inspire' and other whalesong-like statements?

    3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Comic Sans == Credibility Fail

      I rather suspect that the author is perfectly aware of the effect that her colour scheme and font choices will have on the "artistically inclined". Consider it a well-deserved slap in the face for telephone sanitation engineers in all dimensions.

    4. Risky
      Thumb Up

      I think it is reassuring that we have people that don't care a hoot how good the slide looks when there's enough interesting data in there.

    5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Pint

      You are mistaken. It's actually Cosmic Sans.

      1. Arctic fox
        Happy

        @Destroy All Monsters Or maybe..........

        ..............Cosmic Sense.

  10. Giles Jones Gold badge

    *Cynical*

    Call me cynical, but if they do find it they'll just use it to develop more deadly weapons. Micro-nukes or something that can explode the planet into dust.

    1. bonkers
      Boffin

      Cynical

      Your making the same mistake as Thatcher, who praised the good and important work they did at CERN, thinking they made atom bombs. Stupid cow. They didn't, don't and never will. Nuclear physics and bomb-making split in about 1950. The H-bomb uses the most energy-dense stable material in the universe, Hydrogen, in its various isotopic forms. You just need an A-bomb to get it going.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Nit-pick...

        Iron is more stable. (So is helium, which is why you can make a bomb out of hydrogen, but iron is the point at which neither fusion nor fission will yield any more energy.)

        As for the OP, presumably they also believe that all chemical and biological research should be banned. There's not much you can say to such people except "Happy trolling".

        1. bonkers
          Happy

          Nit-unpick

          Your point is correct, but, erm, misguided, Iron and Helium are stable by virtue of their binding energy per nucleon, but this reduces their energy density, in bomb-makers terms, as this binding energy is what is released when Hydrogen fuses into Helium, , or any other nucleide. Therefore Hydrogen is the most energy dense material that is also stable, I am not looking for the most stable material.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Radio 4's approach to this news.

    "If you were dragged to a betting shop and forced to bet on whether you've discovered the Higgs Boson or not, which way would you bet"

    It's so refreshing to see the beeb so finely in tune with the way potential scientific discoveries are evaluated.

    Thank 'Gaia' they use such discrimination with regard to all science iespecially their climate change propaganda.

  12. Scott Broukell
    Coat

    <inert title>

    So, basically, we put everything we had into these giant detectors and the particle accelerator and it turns out there it was! in this little cupboard, right at the back, all the time - which had a message scrawled on the door "Do not open until X-mass"

    We've just got to check the sell-by-date against the speed of light next.

  13. Duckorange
    FAIL

    Comic Sans

    The Font of Champions

    1. Glesga Snapper
      Trollface

      The Font of Chumps.

      FTFY

  14. fLaMePrOoF
    Boffin

    This article is full of misleading interpretations, statements and inaccuracies; was the author even watching the same webcast?

    Although optimistic, the teams at CERN certainly cannot be said to have 'spotted the Higgs', indeed, their presentations and conclusions were (rightly) far more cautious, accepting the real possibility that the Standard Model Higgs doesn't even exist.

    And for goodness sake, please STOP stating that the Higgs Boson gives mass to other particles, this is NOT the case, the existence of the Higgs Boson is merely a product and proof of the Standard Model concept of the HIGGS FIELD as the mechanism for spontaneous electro weak symmetry breaking, if this is proven to be the case then it's the Higgs Field which gives mass to all matter, (including Higgs Bosons).

    1. It wasnt me
      Thumb Down

      Wow...

      May I politely suggest that if you don't like a news source generalising, and trying to bring science just that little bit closer to the average human being by taking a few small approximations on the linguistic semantics of cutting edge particle physics, then the Register probably isn't the place for you?

      1. david wilson

        Would it really put science *that* much further away from the average human being if the boson had been described as 'linked to the process which gives particles/things/matter/stuff mass'?

  15. Robert E A Harvey

    115 to 131 MeV

    That's a pretty big hole to keep searching in!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      You mean...

      GeV.

      Directly from: http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/

      "For the last decade we have known that the Higgs mass is above 114 GeV (from LEP) and unlikely to be very much higher than that (from precision electroweak results). This summer’s LHC results disfavored masses above about 130 GeV, so for the last few months we’ve known that if the Standard Model Higgs is there, it should be between 114 and about 130 GeV. For a couple weeks news has been circulating widely from ATLAS and CMS that they are both seeing something around 125 GeV."

      1. ratfox Silver badge
        Joke

        @You mean: Obligatory reference

        "One million electron-volts is not cool. You know what's cool? One billion electron-volts."

  16. SPiT
    Meh

    Took me a minute or two ...

    ... to work out what the news was. Seems like the news is that they have now bothered to have a news conference. The story has been as good as public for a little while now

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      'As good as public'

      How public does it need to be? - it was in last week's New Scientist, for example.

  17. Chemist
    Joke

    The slide mentions the "Look-Elswhere-Effect"

    Is that a cousin of the "Somebody-Else's-Problem" field ?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Headmaster

      No, it means you have made the error of reducing the sample space early

      http://www.science20.com/quantum_diaries_survivor/supernatural_coincidences_and_lookelsewhere_effect

      1. Chemist

        "No, it means you have made the error of reducing the sample space early"

        You have made the error of not noticing it was a JOKE !

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Devil

          "You have made the error of not noticing it was a JOKE"

          WRONG!

          As I was saying about that reduction of the sample space...

    2. Thunderbird 2

      As jedi would have it

      These Boson's aren't the Boson's you're looking for.

  18. HP Cynic

    Worst slide ever.

    Also the title of the article is very misleading: they have NOT seen the Higgs particle.

    1. Mme.Mynkoff
      Headmaster

      Metaphorical science

      They have it in their metaphorical sights - if they close their eyes and start dreaming, the particle appears, as bold as brass.

      You seem to be clinging to some outdated concept of science in which a test requires observational evidence.

      Well, get with the program, old man! It's post-modern science now.

  19. Luther Blissett

    An "excess of events"

    Wu Hu! God is Go!!! Could there be not just a lonely Higgs Boson somewhere out there but a Higgs Community, a cultural diversity of sparticles?

    1. Stumpy
      Coat

      "I'm Sparticle"

      "No, I'm Sparticle"

      "I'm Sparticle, and so is my wife!"

      ... ok, ok ... I'm going...

  20. Chris 3
    Boffin

    Science journalism/subbing at its worst

    Boffin: It's too early to say that we've spotted the Higgs boson.

    El Reg: The Higgs boson has been spotted by boffins.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Conditioning

      It's just that journalists have got so used to dealing with politicians that failure to deny is an admission.

  21. Luc Le Blanc
    WTF?

    Devil's particles?

    Higgs boson is God's particle as opposed to all others that were created by the Devil?

    1. FrankAlphaXII
      Coat

      Devil's Particles

      Why do you think they call some of it Anti-matter?

      Mine's the one with the Particle Accelerator in the pocket.

    2. Beelzeebub
      Flame

      Wot

      I ain't creating no goddam particles.

  22. dervheid
    WTF?

    What the fuck is

    an "Inverse femtobarn". Or more precicely, how much?

    1. bonkers

      seven times ten to the fourteen collisions, if you must fucking know.

      1. Stumpy
        Joke

        ... or as many collisions seen in precicely 24 hours of traffic around L'Arc de Triomphe.

  23. Dele-Himself
    Trollface

    lolwut

    Possibly find Higgs Boson....

    Possibly change world of physics forever...

    Tell the world with Comic Sans....

    Troll History forever

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. Ugotta B. Kiddingme Silver badge

    femtobarn?!?

    Is that for housing one's quantum cattle?

  26. Jesse
    Boffin

    @ Fonts and Colors

    You would be surprised how refreshing it is to look at raw data in solid and easy to read colors and fonts after being buried in black and white thinly lined code for hours and days...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Having looked at the range they HAVE been looking in the past, it was only time

    I have to ask, given that most of the range they have been looking for this has been in the range that would by definition mean the universe was so unstable that it could go poop, at least according to the standard model. Now the stable range or the range they have as an candicate range that has been so for many a long time, ie the stable zone from looking at the possible ranges is pretty much the last range there actualy looking for it.

    Question being why did they not lok for it in the likely range first, given the stability of current observations, indeed the obility to observe. Then afterwards reason why to eliminate the rest of the range. But still, it will only help to get that SCI-FI anti gravity platforms moving along sooner rather than later.

  28. Rentaguru
    Paris Hilton

    smutty comment

    so god exists in particle form but what about suzy?

    having conducted intimate probing under conditions of strict confinement and after high energy impacts i can safely say she's full of surprises and is more complex than thought.

    ok so silk rope and a cane aren't the normal tools of science but i assure you they work on my suzy ;)

    does the bite mark i left on her chesticle mean broken supersymetry?

    Paris - two chesticles

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Typing one-handed does make it difficult to get capitals right.

  29. John Deeb
    Boffin

    Higgs Singlet Cat

    The font is a dead give away. The boson was actually discovered around 1995 at the Fermilab, just after the top quark but any results can/could/will only be beamed into the future because of the "Higgs singlet" as proposed by theoretical physicists Thomas Weiler and Chui Man Ho.*

    This is mainly to circumvent Schrödinger's cat paradox.

    *). "Large Hadron Collider could be world's first time machine"

    http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-03-large-hadron-collider-world-machine.html

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can i just get some ROI?

    You spent billions on the worlds biggest doughnut, i watced hours of a laser pointer on a target, and for this?

    I demand a levitating skateboard, proton pack or something equally scifi in return. If 5 sigma is certainad and 0 sigma is a no, you seem (to my tiny mind) be giving us a 50/50 (is this shit linear/magnitudal or what.). I could have done that with a normal sized doughnut and a coffee.

    And before you clever bastards start going off, fuck off and make my jet pack. I'm sigma 2.7 its behind my sofa. And why dont betting shops use sigma?

    Ah bollox

  31. anadish

    A Grave Joke

    The joke continues: The priest replied, "But, see, good sir, we have been holding a mass since Christ was born some 2000 years ago without ever have heard of you or seen you." To which Higgs Boson replies, "May be, but you need me for your gravity too which holds you down to the church floor." The priest was unsurprised and said, "Oh I see, I always thought it was the graveyard by the side which was the source of all the gravity; in that case, Mr. Higgs Boson, Sir, you may belong there."

    Very kind of Higgs to try to be there to bail out the credibility of LHC and its secure funding. But at 2.3 ~ 1.9 Sigma? So the yes/no is still held in the clutches of the funding strategy. But surely put your champagne away in the deep freezer! Also, the strategy has to be excellent otherwise they too shall see the funds drying up like it happened with Fermilab. I as an amateur researcher fully agree with Professor Hawking. The reasons for mass and gravity are totally different than Higgs. For example, faster than light Neutrinoes and Higgs both cannot coexist -- either one has to be wrong. It's DCE research and superluminal speed which has the potential of breaking current scientific barriers, rather than finding a nebulous statistical dual peak for a Higgs, which well could be due to many other anomalies, one that LHC could not decipher is that of the UFOs.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The truth about Higgs Boson

    Higgs Boson is INNOCENT! Support the campaign.

  33. JetSetJim Silver badge
    Joke

    The Higgs Boson is holding a press conference at midnight on Dec 24th. He's giving Christmas mass.

  34. Charlie van Becelaere
    Boffin

    Apart from the design

    and I don't mean experimental design - is there anything really there?

    From this post, it seems there might, and this "fellow" has been a CERN-hater for quite some time, it appears.

    http://iheardacouplethings.blogspot.com/2011/12/still-playing-uncerntainty-card.html

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CERN openly discriminates people, who weren't born in western Europe. MC-EST.

    "The cost [...] has been evaluated, taking into account realistic labor prices in different countries. The total cost is X (with a western equivalent value of Y) [where Y>X]

    forrás: LHCb calorimeters : Technical Design Report

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