BREAKING: CERN to announce “God Particle” found

The CERN Large Hadron Collider seen from the air – click for more

By JOHN HEILPRIN and SETH BORENSTEIN
Associated Press

GENEVA (AP) — Scientists believe the “God particle” that might explain the underpinnings of the universe is real, and they are about to present their evidence to the world.

Physicists at the world’s biggest atom smasher plan to announce Wednesday that they have nearly confirmed the primary plank of a theory that could shape the scientific understanding of all matter.

The idea is much like gravity and Isaac Newton’s discovery: It was there all the time before Newton explained it. But now scientists know what it is and can put that knowledge to further use.

The focus of the excitement is the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that, if confirmed, could help explain why matter has mass, which combines with gravity to give an object weight.

But two independent teams of physicists are cautious after decades of work and billions of dollars spent. They don’t plan to use the word “discovery.” They say they will come as close as possible to a “eureka” announcement without uttering a pronouncement as if from the scientific mountaintop.

full AP story here

Lobos Motl has more here and writes:

According to an incognito ATLAS member who spoke to Nature, they have a discovery without any doubts. Pure elation that will culminate on Wednesday morning.

A live webcast will be provided, though I expect it it will be so overloaded as to be useless:

Watch at webcast.cern.ch

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168 thoughts on “BREAKING: CERN to announce “God Particle” found

  1. Have they done genetic studies on scientists who believe in the ‘God particle?’

  2. “Physicists at the world’s biggest atom smasher plan to announce Wednesday that they have nearly confirmed the primary plank of a theory that could shape the scientific understanding of all matter.”

    Nearly confirmed? A bit premature, then, isn’t it? Why don’t they wait until it is confirmed? Do they have it or don’t they? Is this a funding thing?

  3. I’d cut them a little slack on this one. According to the Sunday Times article I saw yesterday, they’ve a four-sigma degree of confidence that they’ve found the Higgs boson. Likewise, reanalysis of collisions at Tevatron is to be published showing a similar level of confidence. Merge the two studies and you may well have the five-sigma degree of confidence to say “Yep, there it is”.

    At least Mr Higgs is still going strong and able to pick up his Nobel Prize for physics next year.

  4. OK, so it’s only a press release, but … can’t wait for the details! Thanks for the news, you’ve cheered my evening up considerably.

  5. I’m sorry to say, because of the global warming scheme, I hesitate to believe anything coming from “scientists” anymore. Something will be announced, to justify why they need a few more billion to confirm their suspicions and justify their existence. Distortions and prevarications, by “climate scientists”, has wrecked my once firm belief in the community. Who will be the heros, in the community, that will step forward and restore faith in the work of science?

  6. Why is it whenver they mention “Higgs boson”, Magnum P.I. comes to mind?

    Sounds like one of his investigations, as well…

  7. Pure elation here in Old North Wales. I am in the process of culminating it. It should thoroughly culminated by tomorrow.

  8. It would be so nice if it were true. ( I want my jetpack!!). And all the societal wealth that comes with such a scientific advance. Either it is true, or it is not. And time will tell.

    I remember listening to the radio in the 1970’s, and reading in the newspapers, about a carburator design that would give 100 miles per gallon…but that the Saudi’s bought the rights to it and denied it to the world.

    But then, upon further investigation, nothing. Either way, releasing it to the world would be a good idea. So it makes me wonder why the teaser?

  9. They would want to be 100% sure – we all know what happened when they announced they had found a particle that travels faster than the speed if light!

  10. They have produced a statistical model which explains mass!

    And now they want to use it to tax people…

  11. “Scientists have to show with complex formulas that there’s a less than 1 in 1.7 million chance that the findings are a statistical fluke.”

    Now that’s how I would like to see climate research. Fat chance.

  12. Lubos Motl will certainly have an opinion. I agree w/Leif — too early. Remember the faster-than-light neutrinos….

    That reminds me, Motl’s site has lately caused my Firefox to choke. His site’s always been overloaded w/trackers, gadgets & scripts, but now it’s outright locking up. I use Ghostery & NoScript, but now even those don’t help. Setting View/Page Style/No style works on some dodgy sites, but no joy.

    Lubos, if you read this or someone else knows, there was another site of yours you listed once that had a simpler html presentation, but now I can’t find it. Anyone have it?

  13. for what it is worth “Particle physics has an accepted definition for a “discovery”: a five-sigma level of certainty – The “three sigma” level represents about the same likelihood as tossing more than eight heads in a row
    Five sigma, on the other hand, would correspond to tossing more than 20 in a row
    With independent confirmation by other experiments, five-sigma findings become accepted discoveries’ -From the BBC website.

    Assuming the description that description is correct, that would make it 1 in 2^20 or 1 in 1,046,576 – call it 1 in a million possiblity of being wrong (ie experiements are false and not showing the particle). That is pretty darn confident – btw, I do not claim that I’ve got the right description of 5 Sigma.

  14. They have 4 sigmas. They need 5. This is a world away from the ‘give or take a bit’ mannipulation we are used to. Real science, real scientists, real statistics. I fear too many on this blog have become so cynical about climate science they’re extending cycnicism into genuine areas of scientific triumph.

    Even better will be when CERN finds something that *wasn’t* predicted…

  15. Let me guess, they just need more money to do more experiments, so they can really confirm it.
    Balderdash!

  16. “gofer says:
    July 2, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I’m sorry to say, because of the global warming scheme, I hesitate to believe anything coming from “scientists” anymore. Something will be announced, to justify why they need a few more billion to confirm their suspicions and justify their existence. Distortions and prevarications, by “climate scientists”, has wrecked my once firm belief in the community.”
    —————————————————————————————————————-
    I have similar feelings on this. It is very difficult after the “consensus” of scientists backing a post-modern religion of AGW to trust anything coming out of the establishment. The trust has been damaged. And I spent 8 years wearing a white coat in the lab myself.

    I am looking forward to reading more on this, and making up my own mind. Until then, I don’t believe anybody anymore.

  17. Well I seem to recall, that I nearly confirmed something myself once; no I’m quite positive that I confirmed it; but I just never did write down in my note book just what it was that I had confirmed.

    So if you should happen acrioss it sometime, just remember, I was the one who broke the field wide open.

  18. This is great if it can be repeatedly confirmed.
    It will greatly increase the confidence in the present model of matter.

  19. They call it the God Particle because one researcher looking for it said “I hope we find this goddamn particle soon”. I guess they thought the public would be more accepting of the phrase The God Particle.

  20. Sounds like there’s a competition between the US Tevatron and CERN LHC teams to claim who technically found it first. Hope the rush to announce wasn’t too premature.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/large-hadron-collider/9370677/God-Particle-rumours-strengthened-by-Tevatron-databr.html

    ‘God Particle’ rumours strengthened by Tevatron data

    The Tevatron findings represent a final analysis of all the data gathered by scientists at Fermilab before the particle accelerator was shut down late last year.

    They show a signal of the Higgs with a mass of between 115 and 135 Gigaelectronvolts (GeV), which fits with the “hints” at a mass of 125 GeV announced by the LHC last December.

    The Tevatron signal had a statistical strength of 2.9 sigma, meaning there is roughly a one in 550 chance that the result was a statistical fluke.

    “While 5-sigma significance is required for a discovery, it seems unlikely that the Tevatron collisions mimicked a Higgs signal. Nobody expected the Tevatron to get this far when it was built in the 1980s.”

    Trivia question:

    Finding the particle, first proposed by Peter Higgs in 1964, would prove the existence of the Higgs Field, a mysterious force which interacts with particles to give them their mass.

    Energy and mass are essentially the same thing, gravity works on both, an increase in kinetic energy yields an apparent increase in mass, etc. Energy is to mass roughly as mass is to a black hole (a singularity), it can be thought of as highly compressed until it becomes another state.

    So what does the Higgs field actually do, is it the “glue” that holds energy together as mass? Is it somehow underlying gravity, gravity is actually a secondary effect? Additional info is kindly requested.

  21. cui bono says:
    July 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    They have 4 sigmas. They need 5.

    Then they are one short of a discovery, no?

  22. “Physicists at the world’s biggest atom smasher plan to announce Wednesday that they have nearly confirmed the primary plank of a theory that could shape the scientific understanding of all matter.”

    Get that?!?!?! They are going to announce that it isn’t confirmed yet but they are close apparently!!! What kind of BS announcement is that?!?!?!?!

  23. Uhm….”The idea is much like gravity and Isaac Newton’s discovery: It was there all the time before Newton explained it.”
    As far as I’m aware neither Newton nor anybody else has ‘explained’ what gravity is.
    He did indeed ‘describe’ it, and he did indeed ‘measure’ its effects and was able to ‘predict’ future outcomes on this basis. ‘Naming’ something is very different from ‘explaining’ it.
    ‘Identifying’ a mechanism is very different from ‘knowing’ how it works, or on a more profound level WHY it works!
    Modern Science writing leaves a lot to be desired.

  24. dogald says:
    July 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm
    I do wish people would stop using “God particle”
    ==============================================================
    Yeah, I agree. John 4:24 says, “God is spirit”, outside the realm of the 5 senses. (they ain’t going to find a piece of Him.) This reminds me of insurance companies calling natural disasters “Acts of God”. There’s more than one spiritual influence in the world.
    But if this helps to understand the natural world we live in, that could be a good thing. I just wish they’d find another name for it. (At least they’re not using a tree ring to find it!)

  25. Dodgy Geezer says:

    July 2, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    They have produced a statistical model which explains mass!

    And now they want to use it to tax people…

    *

    Yes, but is it our fault? :)

  26. Apart from the Higgs Bosun what are they going to say about Supersymetry and the supersymmetric top quark, or stop squark?

  27. So they kinda know it exists… kinda like we already knew it exists?…. I actually do KNOW IT EXISTS…. G*D does not require any scientis approval…. now if they would use a completely ‘other’ name for it I would be much happier, because this does nothing to unify any theory…. Matter was created but heck the scientific community needs to acknowledge the divine creator, all else is secondary…. I AM before anything else. Personally I refuse to consider that I am from extraterrestrial microbial life somehow mutating and slithering from a primordial swamp and evolving. On another line altogether, what damage has the LHC caused at the subatomic particle level to the planet we inhabit? Too many Earth changes happening. Volcano earthquake wild wealth wierd phenomina temperatures – in multiples all over the planet. NOW we do not believe it is CAGW, and we are dismissing G*D, so what is left???? Scientists playing with big toys at CERN???

  28. James says:
    July 2, 2012 at 2:55 pm
    Not to be out done by the Cern Scientists, Chicago scientists are today claiming that they have also found God.

    I was going to say they would have buckleys chance…… the USA has to one of the most Godless places on this planet these days……. however seeing as they are also playing with BIG TOYS, that too might help to explain all the terrible and wierd things happening with weather, climate, earth changes too. Why oh why won’t people allow God to do what God does best and stop trying ti imitate him?

  29. I won’t believe it until someone does a survey that shows that 97% (of some) of these guys believe in the Higgs Boson. And why aren’t these guys busy dodging FOIA requests? This sounds like very shoddy science.

  30. I take a personal as well as scientific interest in this. Back in the early days of the internet, I used HiggsBoson as my handle. Of course that was back when hardly anyone aside from physicists knew what one was theorized to be.

  31. The photo is captioned:
    “The CERN Large Hadron Collider seen from the air”
    but I don’t think the collider can be seen from the air…
    it’s underground, is it not?

  32. The degree of pre-hype is directly negatively proportional to the degree of “nearly”.

  33. Five Sigma for particle physics discoveries, does this mean that climate science uses
    1 or 2 sigma ?

  34. the 3-4-5 sigma thing is all rather arbitrary, 3 sigma is 99.73% sure, 4 sigma is 99.99%, 5 sigma 99.9999% sure. No sane person would be betting against this even at 2 sigma. So perhaps we can scale back the criticism?

  35. i wish they would spend more time, money, and manpower on curing diseases, cancer, etc

  36. It really annoys me that I need to keep explaining that… no, scientists are not claiming to have discovered/are searching for a particle that replaces/disproves God. It’s a Higgs! A Higgs!! don’t even bother with the “boson” part–hardly anyone knows what that is. A Higgs particle. Not God Not a God particle. Not anything about knowing the mind or touching the face of God. When scientists try to reach out to the public through theology they are as competent at said theology as preachers are at science when they try to use science to convert secular people. There are ways of communicating the importance of such research without confusing everyone. I know most of this stuff comes from the press but some of it comes from scientists speaking in an overly poetic manner. Please stop it. If you find yourself about to mention God to a reporter… change the subject.

  37. These inferential “things” that are detected in the accelerator are at best resonances. What they’re finding is a new resonance that seems to satisfy the terms of their equations. Equal in importance to a rock guitarist finding just the right chord to finish his latest song.

    The only difference is that the rock guitarist isn’t costing everyone billions of dollars to pursue his artistic vision.

  38. Here’s how one reporter describes the situation. 99.996% sounds like much better confidence than anything in climate science. Presumably this is still some kind of interim report, whether or not a word like “discovery” is used, because they can keep collecting data for a very long time to come and see whether the additional data takes them to 5 sigma or not??

    http://news.discovery.com/space/higgs-boson-discovered-120702.html

    “So far, the strength of this particular Higgs signal hasn’t exceeded 4.3-sigma — which relates to a 99.996 percent chance of the signal being real (and a 0.0004 percent chance that it’s just noise). A 5-sigma signal, on the other hand, is regarded as the “Gold Standard” in particle physics, relating to a 99.99994 percent chance that the signal is real (and only a 0.00006 percent chance of it being noise). Only when the signal hits that magical 5-sigma standard can a discovery be announced.”

  39. On the plus side, I am enthused about having such important results become available to physicists. I also hope this leads to more than just knowing the mass of the Higgs (or higgs maybe?). It would be a real shame if there wasn’t something unexpected about the Higgs that could advance our understanding. Can we at least be assured that a defined Higgs mass will at least disprove some existing hypotheses?

  40. The ‘God particle’ tag was probably invented by a science journalist. As we know, they rarely check their facts and thus have plently of time to invent stoooopid names.

    dukeofurl says (July 2, 2012 at 4:15 pm)
    “Five Sigma for particle physics discoveries, does this mean that climate science uses
    1 or 2 sigma ?”

    Nah. Any real science in modern climate pronouncements are entirely a sigment of your imagination. :-)

  41. >>
    dogald says:
    July 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I do wish people would stop using “God particle”
    <<

    I’m not sure why it bothers you. It’s based on the title of a book, “The God Particle,” written by Leon Lederman and Dick Teresi in 1993. You can blame Lederman for the term.

    Jim

  42. gofer says – “Something will be announced, to justify why they need a few more billion to confirm their suspicions and justify their existence.”

    What gofer was thinking, except change the “b” of ‘illion’ to “tr”. Dare we say CERN Rev. 2.0?
    But can you blame them, the ploy has worked so well for Mann, Jones, Hansen, Gore, …

  43. “wikeroy says:
    July 2, 2012 at 2:36 pm
    What spin-off effects might this give, I wonder.’

    Finally the possibility of a decent disintegrator gun !

  44. Did they find it? Or did they create it? How did science fall so far in such a short period of time? So wish Thomas Kuhn was still alive.

  45. JustMEinT Musings says:
    July 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm
    the USA has to one of the most Godless places on this planet these days
    =========
    Doesn’t every president end every speech with “god bless america”?

  46. Rob L says:
    July 2, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    the 3-4-5 sigma thing is all rather arbitrary, 3 sigma is 99.73% sure, 4 sigma is 99.99%, 5 sigma 99.9999% sure. No sane person would be betting against this even at 2 sigma. So perhaps we can scale back the criticism?

    If you think 2 sigma is sufficient proof, you could have saved a lot of money by re-writing the standards. The fact is, there is a line they have to cross before it is official. There is a reason it is 5 sigma and not 2.

  47. Pamela Gray says:
    July 2, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    The degree of pre-hype is directly negatively proportional to the degree of “nearly”.

    I agree. More or less. ;)

  48. Luboš Motl is talking about who should get the Nobel Prize. He sounds pretty sure this is the real deal.

  49. Searching for God in a particle and then founding the religion of CAGW seems reasonable.

    There was a time when science was trying to do the complete opposite.

  50. I saw this on Star Trek: Voyager, except it was the Omega molecule.

    Oh, and Sheldon will be skeptical (Big Bang Theory reference)

  51. AndrewS says:
    July 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    No, the physicists didn’t really claim they had measured particles going faster than light. The group in question didn’t believe they had actually measured anything going faster than light. They did say the measurements indicated neutrinos had traveled faster than the speed of light, but they didn’t believe the results. They reported the observations, and asked for people to help solve the problem. It turns out they were right to be skeptical. The error in timing was apparenty due to a loose GPS instrument cable. The leaders did resign, but said they did so not because of errors they made on OPERA, but because of internal (political) pressures.

    http://news.discovery.com/space/opera-leaders-resign-after-no-confidence-vote-120404.html

  52. Claims of having found some effect or particle in high energy physics requires several orders of magnitude more evidence than climate scientist will ever have in their wildest dreams. But I think that very few physicists doubted the existence of the Higgs. Several may have been wrong about whether the LHC could probe at the right energies to find it ;)

    Pretty awesome stuff, anyway.

  53. This is almost anti-climatic, They aren’t even up to full power yet and all they have to do is collect enough data to push them over 5 sigma and the higgs is discovered; I was hoping for a quantum blackhole streaking through the planet and out into space at near the speed of light!

  54. leftinbrooklyn says:
    July 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm
    “oh boy….you know the first step will be to make it ‘weapons-grade’…”

    Yeah, like the Quark bomb, the Neutrino bomb and the Muon ray.

  55. I’m pretty certain that God is not a particle, and that he is a she.

    Those reservations aside, I think this is exciting stuff. I’m not going to pooh pooh it until I see what they announce.

  56. Jack says:
    July 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    It would be so nice if it were true. ( I want my jetpack!!). And all the societal wealth that comes with such a scientific advance. Either it is true, or it is not. And time will tell.

    I remember listening to the radio in the 1970′s, and reading in the newspapers, about a carburator design that would give 100 miles per gallon…but that the Saudi’s bought the rights to it and denied it to the world.

    The 100 mph carb is a myth – for a 10:1 compression ratio engine the maximum thermal efficiency is .6 (60%) – this ignores friction losses, air conditioning, water pump, heat lost to the cooling system, running at idle (or any speed that gives less than peak efficiency) etc. Actual efficiency is about 35%.

    The actual Pogue system was pre-carburetor and used the exhaust to vaporize the fuel. Since the last major advance in efficiency was direct fuel injection – there is little or no chance that the Pogue system was more efficient. Since he would never show his carb to anyone any discussion of the Pogue carburetor (or any of the 250 or so similar products) is premature.

  57. Thats almost the same confidence Michael Mann feels about his Hockey Stick!!!!

  58. I’ve been looking at these numbers for the higgs bogus particle. It’s still garbage.
    Cannot explain itself into being through its sheer rarity.

  59. JustMEinT Musings says:
    July 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm
    “…the USA has to one of the most Godless places on this planet these days…”
    ________________________
    One could make comparisons…
    You made that statement without fear of retribution and there are many places on the planet where you would’ve been well served to hold your tongue, not that it has any bearing on your statement.
    After all, don’t scriptures say that “ye are gods”?
    (little g)

    Just think how many god particles there are around here.

  60. dogald said:
    July 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm
    I do wish people would stop using “God particle”
    ————————————————————
    Aye – it implies an anti-God particle or a Satan particle.

    …and maybe even a Unitarian Field Theory.

    Next they will be building an atom and Eve smasher.

  61. James says: “Not to be out done by the Cern Scientists, Chicago scientists are today claiming that they have also found God.”

    What say the Utah scientists at the Melvin Dumar Institute of Technology?

  62. There is still time for CERN to create a more stable vacuum state, thus destroying the universe, as prophesied by the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Vacuum alarmists.

    Somebody should really set up a sceptical blog countering these claims.

  63. All that money spent…. they have to come up with something. So they’ll make up some gobbledygook to explain something plasma physics already has long ago.

  64. Just to rock the boat a little:

    Francois Englert is the real ‘father’ of the so-called Higgs Boson.

    In 1964, before all the well-known papers written by Peter Higgs were released, Francois Englert published a paper with Robert Brout – who unfortunately died in May 2011 – in which the foundations of the Higgs/BEH/God mechanism were built.

  65. Keith says

    “At least Mr Higgs is still going strong and able to pick up his Nobel Prize for physics next year.”

    Shame it will come after Gore and Obama, a real shame.

  66. If the Higgs “discovery” is true, I sure hope its track doesn’t look like a hockey stick.

  67. While the science may in fact be amazing, isn’t this a press release for a press release? Must be from the Department of Redundancy Department.

  68. DirkH says:
    July 2, 2012 at 5:51 pm
    leftinbrooklyn says:
    July 2, 2012 at 5:18 pm
    “oh boy….you know the first step will be to make it ‘weapons-grade’…”

    Yeah, like the Quark bomb, the Neutrino bomb and the Muon ray.
    ==============================================================
    The Q Bomb. Don’t they keep that in a dungeon in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick?

  69. They are talking about black matter I presume. Nothing new about this, explained on Stephen Hawkins video ‘The Universe’ – So what? Maybe it can explain galactic sub atomic particles as a creator of clouds when there is no solar activity to interfere with them coming in contact with Earth.

  70. Wagathon at 8.09 am. Only one Michael Mann. Or if he can’t handle it Al Gore, no I am wrong, the whole IPCC!

  71. Five Sigma for particle physics discoveries, does this mean that climate science uses
    1 or 2 sigma ?

    Hardly. Take a dozen or so sketchy studies with maybe 0.5 sigma confidence, then proclaim a “body of evidence” that proves that the overall conclusion is “unequivocal”. These dozen studies will be selected from among many dozens of other studies that reach the opposite conclusion. Then you get a Nobel prize and $70 billion to spend on your friends. Easy.

    5 sigma is solid (alpha=2.87105E-07). Climate could learn something here.

  72. Leaving aside the “did/didn’t” aspect of this press release (and therefore Leif’s “doesn’t cut it in my book”, as that’s as relevant as the press release), the important thing is who will win the Hawking/Higgs wager? Any takers? Will this lead to a bitter, bitchy discussion as to who is right (if either), or will it lead to a new era of discovery?

    Just think: the possibility of new hypotheses, or further proof of existing theories. The subsumation of ego to the advancement of science. What a thought.

  73. Now what if Climate Scientists were running CERN, the press releases may have been a bit different…

    “…The science is settled, the Higgs boson exists and confirms the current trends towards anthropogenic global interdimensional portal catastrophy (AGIPoC) …’

    “…I know that some so-called scientists disagree about the existence of the Higgs Boson, but 97% of particle physicists firmly agree that it exists…”

    “…disbelief in the existence of the Higgs Boson is caused by misinformation spread by paid for, political activitists working for Big Particle Industry…”

    “…a four sigma deviation is a very large hockey stick…”

    “…some bloggers have claimed that the Higgs Boson discovery relies on the sighting of a single particle by the physicist Briffaovolich, who refers to it as the YAD06 sighting, this is an entirely spurious claim and there have in fact been many sightings of the Higgs Boson…”

    “….only reasonable adjustments to the data were made, and it is now clear that the Higgs Boson does indeed exist…”

    “…of course, you have to look at the data first, to see if the Higgs Boson exists, the data where it doesn’t exist is clearly not the data that we were looking for, and obviously does not carry a Higgs Boson signal – so of course that data was excluded from our final study…”

    “..The Peer Review Process clearly shows that the Higgs Boson exists…”

    “…That’s clearly not a reputable journal… it simply puts out propaganda by Big Particle…If people spent less time thinking about fermions and more time thinking about bosons… all this controversy would simply die out…”

    “…Those of us who believe in the Higgs Boson have history on our side…”

    “…Allowing people to have access to cheap fermions is like giving a particle accelerator to a child… my god… any one could open up an interdimensional portal and allow who knows what catastrophic monsters to come through…”

    “… as a CERN director, all I can say is that more funding will be required to ensure that the advent of anthropogenic global interdimensional portal catastrophy is adverted… surely everyone has a stake in that outcome…”

  74. CodeTech says:
    July 2, 2012 at 5:19 pm
    I saw this on Star Trek: Voyager, except it was the Omega molecule.
    ===========================================================
    Wrong. It was Galaxy Quest and it was the Omega 13. It let you go back in time 13 seconds to correct a mistake. At U of Va. Mann made an Omega (plug in a really, Really, REALLY big number) that let him go back in time to nail a thermometer to some tree in Yamal…….

  75. This announcement is right up there with the announcement that once the DNA of a human was mapped, it would mean the end of medicinal guessing, that all diseases would be cured/curable.

    What a load of bunk. Now they have many copies of people’s DNA and we now know that there is a heck of a lot more to life that gene codes for physical beings.

    After deciding they have detected the Higg’s Boson they will find that there are different types of them (like neutrinos and quarks) and they are made up of yet-smaller ‘Higglets’. This has been going on all my life. It will carry on doing so for centuries.

    Physicists should give up the arrogance that pretends they have found the finality of anything at all.
    Just carry on and report your findings and theories. If they find out how to make low-mass metals by expelling the Higg’s particles, call me.

  76. Physicist: We have a 5 sigma confidence that the Higgs Boson exists.
    Climate Scientist: What’s sigma? …Is it a type of Hockey Stick? …we love Hockey Sticks – they’re everywhere.

  77. 125 Gev was the standard model energy for the particle, and some phenomenon at that energy is what they found.

    The problem with the Higgs is they found exactly what they were looking for – which tosses out some of the supersymmetry theories and doesn’t induce any new physics.

    This should accelerate the crisis in physics in that they have a standard model that explains all most everything without explaining the important things (it is correct without being complete).

  78. nargun said:
    July 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm
    and what happens when we split the higgs-boson?
    —————————————————————
    We will find its twin particle: the boson’s mate.

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  80. Wow. Lotsa harsh language for physicists. Has climate science made us so cynical that we see corruption in all sciences at all times?

    Might we be reminded that the profession most likely to be openly skeptical of CAGW are the physicists? That the key arguments beyond the temperature record itself that refute the CAGW meme are based firmly on physics? Sheesh! Give these guys a break. Let’s see what they announce, how they support it in terms of data and methodoloogy release, how reproducible their work is, and then decide to condemn it or laud it.

  81. Amino Acids in Meteorites says:
    July 2, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    I coulda lived without seeing Seth Borenstein’s name today.

    What do you have against Seth Borenstein?

  82. Oh come on guys its not that difficult to understand why its called the God Particle. God is claimed to have created matter from nothing. For matter to exist at all it must have mass and most subatomic particles have no matter ( and behave in ways that don’t fit with the General Theory of Relativity). So when you put all of these particles together to make protons, neutron and electrons (the building blocks of atoms) they still lack mass. Hence, the theory goes, there must be a particle that confers mass ie the Higgs Boson. Now if it confers mass to something that has no mass, then it does the miraculous task of changing non-matter into matter. Hence it’s called the God Particle. I see it as a kind of an honorific.
    Anyway the article is only semi right in stating that mass combined with gravity produces weight. In truth it is mass that generates a gravity in the first place and the gravity generated is proportional to the mass. So the gravity of the moon is approximately one sixth of that of the Earth because the moons mass is approximately one sixth of that of the Earth. Hence, on the moon, I would weigh only one sixth of the weight I am here on the Earth even though I would be the same mass.

  83. I remember listening to the radio in the 1970′s, and reading in the newspapers, about a carburator design that would give 100 miles per gallon…but that the Saudi’s bought the rights to it and denied it to the world.

    You remember nonsense.

    In order for the Saudis to buy a patent, that patent would first have to be published.

    Where’s the patent? Identify it!

    And since patents have a term lasting for 20 years at most, why hasn’t the world jumped on the expired patent and made super-carburetors?

  84. And in other news, Michael Mann is expected to announce that the discovery of the Higgs boson also serves an independent confirmation of his Hockey Stick.

  85. nearly confirmed
    Doesn’t cut it in my book.

    Seriously? So when Einstein predicted general and special relativity, no doubt you would have been one of the naysayers then? It was decades before that was proved to this level of accuracy. (And there were fools who kept working with classical theory on that basis throughout the 20’s.)

    There’s a great deal of difference between knowing something exists and proving it to the degree of proof physicists require. We know that the Higgs Boson exists, just not its energy levels.

  86. To my mind the physics involved got to a point where even if they by some miracle would ‘find’ it it would only confirm that their particular brand of math sums up.

    Making a sum that complex come out as you thought it would is virtually meaningless. The whole thing exists only in a formula and some resultant of how they calculated an exploding particle should behave.

    All in all it’s a pretty vague ‘milestone’. It only ‘proves’ that the particle exists in their mathematical reality. If it exists in reality (whatever that may be) is doubtful

  87. davidmhoffer says:
    July 2, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Wow. Lotsa harsh language for physicists. Has climate science made us so cynical that we see corruption in all sciences at all times?

    Might we be reminded that the profession most likely to be openly skeptical of CAGW are the physicists? That the key arguments beyond the temperature record itself that refute the CAGW meme are based firmly on physics? Sheesh! Give these guys a break. Let’s see what they announce, how they support it in terms of data and methodoloogy release, how reproducible their work is, and then decide to condemn it or laud it.

    I’m a fan of physics and “normal” (as opposed to post-normal) science. I’m interested in what the CERN guys are doing and I value their work. WRT AGW – I suspect that the Geologists have more to say.

  88. What about an Atheist particle that doesn’t believe in the God Particle? We’d better call up Particle Man and Triangle Man. They Might Be Giants!!! Boy!!!

  89. The crucial clue that led CERN to this breathrough came two years ago from, of all places, a TV show:

    When contacted for comment, the God Particle would only say, “Look, I just got tired of everybody worshipping that damned CO2 molecule, so I decided to reveal myself. So tremble before me and sacrifice unto me pepperoni pizzas, no anchovies.”

  90. Obviously there’s no Higgs boson. It’s a hoax. It’s existence is derived from “models” and the experimental “evidence” is not directly linked to the Higgs. Instead, they use theoretical “simulations” to infer the particle’s existence from the data. If we start believing in this sort of science, then we’re on a slippery slope to believing that other models and simulations (such as those in AGW) could infer scientific “facts” from data. We can’t have that now, can we?

    They’ll probably also want to build a bigger “laser” and ask tax payers for a million … sorry, strike that … a billion dollars!!

  91. I’m a particle physicist working on one of the LHC experiments.

    The reason for the announcement now is that this is our deadline for producing new results ahead of the major summer conferences. There likely won’t be an update for some time. If a signal is,eg 4.99 sigma and not 5 sigma then this is indeed “nearly” a discovery. Its pure convention btw that 5 sigma is the discovery limit and not 4 sigma; both represent extremely strong signals. However, in science you decide your methodology and criteria in advance of looking at the data and stick to it regardless. It may also interest you to know that most of the analyses are “blinded” i.e. even the people doing the analyses didn’t know what the results would look like until the very end point. Furthermore, if both experiments come up with 4.99 sigma then a combination would definitely exceed 5 sigma. However, the decision (again, taken in advance) is that both experiments must wholly independently of each other exceed 5 sigma. It would be little unfortunate if there is an “almost there” statement tomorrow but there are no short cuts in science. Nature is often very uncooperative in revealing her secrets.

    I’ve noticed a few posts along the lines of “I’m sceptical due to climate scientists” etc. etc. Being sceptical is always good but being dogmatic isn’t. My field tries to avoid false claims. For example, the fast neutrino study was not a claim of new physics but an example of the scientific method in action i.e. here is a result we don’t understand, please feel free to speculate about systematic uncertainties we may have missed.

    We are far from perfect but we merit well reasoned criticism and not unthinking negativity.

  92. Miss Grundy says:
    July 2, 2012 at 10:19 pm
    @ Jack (July 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm): “I remember listening to the radio in the 1970′s, and reading in the newspapers, about a carburator design that would give 100 miles per gallon…but that the Saudi’s bought the rights to it and denied it to the world.”

    You remember nonsense.

    It was nonsense, but it *was* the prevailing Urban Legend. In 1954, PopMech even had a speculative article on what the miraculous carburetor probably looked like, and ads for a do-it-yourself kit still appear in trade mags from time to time — usually on the same page as the “run your car on water!” ones.

    ZOMG! It must be true — it’s on the Internet!

    http://www.rexresearch.com/fishcarb/fish.htm

  93. I love physics. I used to understand a little of it. I certainly will not mock this latest announcement. But I seriously ask one question. Can anyone here tell us what further research is now justified based on this discovery/confirmation/announcement?

    There is mention of “the focus of the excitement” and “now scientists know what it is and can put that knowledge to further use”. It seems to me that excitement would be justified if physicists are now justified in pursuing new concepts that previous uncertainty about Higgs Boson stopped them from pursuing.

    I would dearly love to hear a simple description of this “further use”.

    And I say this with no hint of sarcasm.

  94. Many years ago I visited CERN several times. Our company had sold them a set of pulsed power supplies, for which I was the electronics design engineer. I visited the underground accelerator ring, which was the predecessor of the LHC.
    One of my main memories was of the superb restaurants and the seemingly endless lunch breaks!
    As I’m sure the physicists are doing honest science I wish them good luck in their incredible voyage of discovery. But I hope they are aware of the pitfalls of confirmation bias….
    Chris

  95. timetochooseagain says:
    July 2, 2012 at 5:36 pm
    Claims of having found some effect or particle in high energy physics requires several orders of magnitude more evidence than climate scientist will ever have in their wildest dreams.
    =======
    Climate scientists may compute for each station in the GHCN data base a correlation between its time series and a regional series in a small latitude band. They should use this statistic in a comparison between all stations dropped during the great dying of the thermometers and those who did not. They will get an effect of more sigma’s than ever hoped for by physicists in their wildest dreams.

  96. Don’t take it to heart Roger…. some climate scientists would have claimed the discovery at 1 sigma… It must be exciting being involved in such important science…. I await any announcement eagerly… what interests me more is what practical use can be made of this\any new knowledge arising from LHC experiments….

  97. Garrett says:
    July 3, 2012 at 1:13 am

    “Obviously there’s no Higgs boson. It’s a hoax. It’s existence is derived from “models” and the experimental “evidence” is not directly linked to the Higgs. ”

    Garrett, imagine you know the point, direction, velocity and time a particle was ejected. Imagine you have a formula for its trajectory, given it has a certain mass.

    Now, imagine you do not know the mass, and your formula has been confirmed by plotting trajectories, and comparing the plots with measured trajectories of other particles.

    The fomula is your model. What is wrong using your formula, plotting, and comparing to measured trajectories ? We, engineers, do it all the time. Everywhere. That is how a control-system works. Now, if you keep the measured data, and your formula a secret, and predict the end of the world by plotting a hockey-stick, that is another story.

  98. Reg Nelson says:
    July 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm
    I won’t believe it until someone does a survey that shows that 97% (of some) of these guys believe in the Higgs Boson. And why aren’t these guys busy dodging FOIA requests? This sounds like very shoddy science.

    ———————————————————————————
    :) beat me to the punchline. Not being even an amateur theoretical physicist, I can’t comment intelligently on the science. I suspect the methodology involved in the search for the Higgs boson is a trifle more rigorous.

  99. @Crispin in Waterloo

    That is precisely the point of ‘science’ to investigate phenomenon we do not understand which then leads to further discoveries, understanding and then the process repeats. Sorry if you have been suckered into thinking that science is a ‘cureall’, or that you can possible be in a position where everything there is to know is known.

  100. Once/If they make this discovery, will they get Mr Scotty in to get the damn thing up to full power?
    What is the point of having such a large instrument if you ain’t going to use it at full power?

  101. AllanJ

    Your question is a good one. However, its impossible to answer it other than to say that this is cutting edge research and this type of cutting edge research has traditionally led to advances. Eg electronics, nuclear power, NMR scanning machines, the world wide web. It would be wrong to speculate since this is research and one simply doesn’t know in advance how things are going to look.

    My own “justification” for this type of work is that its the equivalent of going to the Moon. To many folk this was a wholly unnecessary and costly exercise. To others its a statement of the continuing progress of mankind. The time to worry is when we stagnate and stop seeking new knowledge. This is one reason why I’m a little unhappy with climate science. The “debate is over” is never something one would hear in particle physics. Our aim is to overturn the “consensus” since we know how fragile it is.

  102. ****
    Lubos Motl says:
    July 2, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Dear beng and everyone with a weak enough computer or browser, please use this version of my blog:

    http://motls.blogspot.com/?m=1

    ****

    Hey, I resemble that remark! j/k
    IE8 at least displays the page (badly), but gives some kind of stack overflow error.

    Thanks for the link.

  103. Roger: “Being sceptical is always good but being dogmatic isn’t. My field tries to avoid false claims.”

    Well then, I’ll try to avoid false skepticism. Any appeal to the need for trust deserves none.

    If you can pick it up at Walmart then no one cares whether you believe it or not. It still plays the latest Spiderman remake on your telly. But for everything else, and for everyone that hasn’t personally watched Spiderman, it’s a pure issue of faith. You are either trusting your dreams, or what someone else tells you about what they did. Or what someone else tells about what someone else told them about…

    “Put up or shut up” is skepticism. And it is dogmatic. And it is empiricism. You, and anyone else, can take every strained pretense about they you should be one of the wise-men to reveal the True Religion and shove it.

  104. Rob L says:
    July 2, 2012 at 4:16 pm
    “the 3-4-5 sigma thing is all rather arbitrary, 3 sigma is 99.73% sure, 4 sigma is 99.99%, 5 sigma 99.9999% sure. No sane person would be betting against this even at 2 sigma. So perhaps we can scale back the criticism?”

    I believe the statistical confidence is based upon the concept that one might be 95, 96, 97…. or whatever % confident that the results were not due to random error. There are all kinds of other types of error possible in any research other than random statistical error. I am sure Newtonian physics looked pretty good until Einstein came along and then we needed several years for the ability to measure to the proper degree of accuracy with the Mercury observation.

  105. Goldie says:
    July 2, 2012 at 9:59 pm
    “……..Anyway the article is only semi right in stating that mass combined with gravity produces weight. In truth it is mass that generates a gravity in the first place and the gravity generated is proportional to the mass. ”

    Excellent! However an even more direct way of looking at the issue, under general relativity, would be that the the Higgs Boson, if it really exists, is what curves space to give us the illusion of a “force” called gravity. But perhaps we simply do not understand gravity as thoroughly as we need to given all of the “dark matter and dark energy” required to explain astronomical observations.

  106. Alternatively, gravity is a simple dipolar effect at an atomic level, with the “inner pole positive and the outer pole negative, all planets being effectively electrets”:

    http://zekeunlimited.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/gravity-a-simple-dipolar-effect-at-an-atomic-level/

    And “mass is a measure the ease of electrically deforming a particle.”

    http://zekeunlimited.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/mass-a-simple-model-requiring-no-newly-invented-particles/

    “Large particles are easier to deform and so appear more massive.” ~W. Thornhill

  107. davidmhoffer says:

    July 2, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Wow. Lotsa harsh language for physicists. Has climate science made us so cynical that we see corruption in all sciences at all times?

    Sadly, yes.
    This is the amount of damage the data fudging society has caused. Nothing in science from now
    will ever be taken at face value and rightly so.
    Regards

    A Physicist

  108. Roger says:
    July 3, 2012 at 1:31 am
    I’m a particle physicist working on one of the LHC experiments.
    The reason for the announcement now is that this is our deadline for producing new results ahead of the major summer conferences

    And there you have it, Roger, the worst possible reason to make an announcement of a non-discovery.

  109. Maus
    Since when do I say “trust us” ? I gave you an example of how we dealt with an apparent signal. We explicitly asked people not to trust us. Hardly an appeal to authority. Regarding the Higgs, If you think the experimental procedure I described is inadequate, please point out why rather just moaning (in true internet whinge-warrior style).

    Stephen
    On the contrary, this is science. We were scheduled give an update and that’s what we’re doing. Even if there is no discovery, it represents a lot of first rate science in a long journey. To not give a promised update would have been wrong. If it all turns out to be a 4.99999 sigma excess from both experiments then that’s just unlucky. Nature doesn’t always run to our timetables. This is how science is done. Why give the (inaccurate) impression that its an easy single step between data taking and discovery ?

  110. Let us be clear. The Higgs Boson does not exist.

    At least it does not exist in our present reality, no more than the electro-weak force actually exists. In the latter case, there is the electric force and the weak nuclear force. But, at high enough energy, both forces combine into a unified force.

    The Higgs does not exist, but the high energy collisions have (apparently) created a Higgs, which comes into existence for an unbelievably short span of time before disintegrating. This time span is too short to show even a trajectory, but instead other trajectories from its disintegration are examined, and the Higgs inferred. This, if correct, demonstrates that the Higgs existed in the universe for a minute fraction to time after the big bang before disappearing from our universe.

    I presume that the Higgs field must still exist – although how that works without the boson is a mystery to me. It is the field that Peter Higgs hypothesised to account for inertia, although the idea of inertia being the result of interaction of matter with a field is counter intuitive, since we know from experience (and Newton) that objects tend to continue on their straight line paths for ever, and the presence of a field would obviously imply a deceleration, and worse, in reintroduces the spectre of the ether and absolute space.

    And if the Higgs Bosun exists, so what? The greatest problems in physics are the inability to unify the physics of general relativity with quantum mechanics. Every attack, whether by quantum gravity or string theory has failed. In short, GR and Quantum mechanics, cannot both be correct.

    The question is, does confirming the Higgs provide the direction that physics should take, or is it the last nail being hammered into the coffin of our current (non)understanding?

  111. you know they are going to come up with something like this, if they have to torture the data for years they are going to justify their boondoggle of a project.

  112. Roger:

    Thankyou for your comments. They are well said, and they needed saying.

    Sadly, that need is an outcome (which several of us predicted) of the discredit of all science that has resulted from the practices of so-called ‘climate science’.

    Richard

  113. This is a great thing if true, and how much will be small if it is not true?
    Scientists do not know what there is in these accelerators, although under high vacuum.
    Who knows what the particle “pick up” from the “empty” space on the target and how it all returns to its initial state. Maybe they think of the debris that a particle of God, and how much energy should be produced on the earth radiation of several trillion al. volts. It is on Earth will never happen.
    A particle of God is much more subtle than any you can imagine

  114. As I understand it, they may have found a particle with 133 times the mass of a proton. How it gives other particles mass and how they know that this is the particle that gives other particles mass I don’t yet understand. Also, since it has 133 times the mass of a proton, it would also have to give itself mass.

    There seems to be some disagreement about wether the new particle will support the standard model more or supersymetry more.

    It seems to me that we have lots and lots of data on the table, but the theoretical physicists can’t really make sense of it. For example, we’ve know for about 70 or 80 years that a single photon partical can create a wave type interference pattern with itself. But we don’t even have a reasonable guess at a physical model that would make such a thing possible.

  115. According to the standard model, forces are carried by force carrier particles called bosons. As an example, imagine two guys standing on ice skates about 5 feet appart and they are throwing a heavy ball back and forth between them. The guy who throws the ball creates kinetic energy away from the other guy. The guy who catches the ball also get kinetic energy away from the other guy. So as they keep throwing the ball between them, they keep accelerting away from each other. A boson would be like the ball in this example. If I remember correctly, there are four different kinds of forces in the universe and they all have different bosons associated with them. At least that is the theory.

  116. Vince: “The greatest problems in physics are the inability to unify the physics of general relativity with quantum mechanics. ”

    I thought that Paul Dirac had done something like that when he produced a relatavistic version of the Shroedinger equations?

    Vince: “It is the field that Peter Higgs hypothesised to account for inertia, although the idea of inertia being the result of interaction of matter with a field is counter intuitive,”

    Yeah, that stumps me as well. If the Higgs field resists the acceleration of an object, why would it not also resist the continued motion of an object. I’m also confused by the idea that characteristics of particles must come from outside of the particles rather than being inherent charateristics of the particle. So if it takes an seperate particle like the Higgs boson, to give another particle mass, then what gives the Higgs boson its characteristic of giving other particles mass. Seems like one could follow that chain eternally.

  117. I spoke with my friend who works directly at Cern in Switzerland. (He’s a member of team CMS…Team ATLAS was the team who claimed to make the discovery.) He told me it was like a race between CMS and ATLAS as to who “find the Higs boson first” Team ATLAS’ came out first claiming a 4 sigma result which equates to 99.9995% certainty. Now, what they REALLY need to claim “discovery” is a 5 sigma result 99.99995% certainty accompanied by a second independent verifying test (hopefully from team CMS!) THEN they will claim discovery. According to my friend, they are about 10 days away from making an official announcement.

    Cheers,

    Chris

  118. Wednesday? So, those Europeans really like to poke the U.S. in the eye for no good reason, don’t they?

  119. Scientists quietly submit their works to peer review. Pseudo-scientists schedule gigantic press events to engender funds their pseudo-scientific activities. I predict this press release manipulation will eventually be exposed as a farce, but the exposure of the farce will be negligible compared to the press coverage of the farce.

  120. Amazing? The science is way above my understanding, so if they were absolutely confusing the masses with the description of a ‘God particle’ I wouldn’t know if they were just spinning a lie, to support their own existence, let alone God. I’m sure there are scientists on this blog that can explain their hypothesis to lay people. And what would be the significance of their discovery? If it shapes up to have credible scientific facts and data?. I remember a Ph.D student giving a lecture re archaeological finds, and he said from the outset, we haven’t compiled our data yet. The answer was ‘then without the data how can you form a hypothesis’. Speculation?

  121. Hi :)
    I’ll try to clear up some concerns raised here:
    The work is submitted to peer review. This sort of announcement is normally made prior to publication, but not prior to peer review of the analysis. If they announced the detection and then the formal paper failed peer review or none was released, the CERN physicists colleagues might eviscerate them. The only concern is that ATLAS and CERN are the only two experiments in the world capable of verifying each other’s results, and they are both at CERN. This is due to the practical constraint of there not being another very expensive LHC.

    Here is how the Higgs Boson works and how its identity can be confirmed:
    First, a little background is in order here: Under quantum mechanics, objects can be described both as particles and waves. Usually we think of them in terms of waves because the wave-form corresponds to a known energy and energy is conserved, so when dealing with a system over time, it makes sense to consider the wave-form, which is often given as a probability-distribution of the object’s location. (The location cannot be known exactly as the energy is a function of the wave-form, and a wave is spread over a region rather than at a single location. This is Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle.) When studying interactions, however, we know the relative position of the particles in question (they are in the same spot) and time of interaction, not the momentum or energy, so with this reduction in the degrees of freedom in position-space, we operate in position-space. The likelihood of interaction between two particles under specific conditions is measurable and constant, and that likelihood of interaction depends upon the types of particles in question and the relative position. Therefore position-space is equivalent to particle-type space. The framework for dealing with this is called Quantum Field Theory (QFT).

    To work in QFT, we need to reinterpret the meaning of the Lagrangian equation. As we are now working with a position, we deal with Lagrangian densities, the energy at a location rather than the energy of a particle. A known quantity of energy puts the point in a single energy-state which, when considered in the parameters of position-space, is a superposition of all possible position-states. In a vacuum, we are not dealing with states where a single interaction-state and a single energy dominate, so while the masses of particle-types affect their weight in the superposition, it does not eliminate which would normally demand more energy than is available to exist (due to high masses). As a particle floats along, it passes through this vacuum populated with “virtual particles”, so it is constantly in a state with a superposition of all possible interactions occurring, each having different likelihoods. (This is a weird, but it’s quantum physics so if it weren’t, something would be wrong.) These interactions are each associated with some spectrum of possible energies of interaction (energy with which particles bounce off these virtual particles). The average energies of interactions, multiplied by their likelihood of interaction, give amounts of energy which depends on the particles present. For example, there are virtual photons near a charged particle, so bringing particle with the same charge near it will lead to a high likelihood of bouncing off those virtual photons while bringing an opposite-charged one would get it sucked in. That is the Coulomb potential. These “amounts of energy” are the terms of a Lagrangian.

    Just one more level of complexity, and then things simplify: A particle’s “anti-particle” coming into a location considered in QFT, is the same as the original particle leaving it. A negative charge leaving an interaction is like a positive charge entering. All of the conserved quantities (except energy) change in exactly the same way. Now, finally, to simplify: If you just have one particle floating around, its conserved quantities (charge, spin-angular momentum, energy) will not change so any interaction, or set of interactions, which lead to such a change will have a 0 probability. However, even in a vacuum, you still have a mass-term which corresponds to the particle entering the space, having some energy, and then leaving unchanged. In QFT, having some energy means undergoing a series of interactions where, in total, conserved quantities are conserved. The way the math works out (no, I am not putting a whole math-class into this comment), the more kinetic energy (energy in excess of its mass) a particle brings into a space, the higher the likelihood of converting it into virtual particles and then having them rejoin back into the original. This changes the mass-term as energy increases (this is “renormalization”, not relativity). However, in the 0-momentum limit, this has no effect so a particle sitting roughly still should have no mass unless there is an interaction which does not demand that it split and rejoin, and changes no conserved quantities.

    To get that interaction, you would need a possible particle which carries no charge and no spin. This is the Higgs Boson, the particle with which interaction has an associated energy, but no change to conserved quantities, and which has a non-zero associated probability of interaction everywhere. It is normally forbidden from forming in any lasting way because energy is conserved and there isn’t enough concentrated to create this thing, but if you put enough energy together, you can get one.

    Now how do you confirm it? When you have just enough energy in a collision to produce a particle, the likelihood of its production jumps a lot. Remember that for elementary particles in vacuum, all of the usual methods of energy-dissipation in collision don’t apply. They only have momentum, no temperature, and no internal structure to crunch. They can only create new particles with that energy, so they do. If the particle is unstable (as nearly all are), it then breaks down. If you spot a spike in interactions of particles with total conserved quantities of 0 at some energy, and all particles going in and coming out appear to be interacting in exactly the same spot (one particle with quantities of 0 rather than a particle and its anti-particle), then you are looking at Higgs Boson-formation.

  122. @Mark Luedtke
    It is the tradition in this field to make an announcement when an experiment feels it has achieved an interesting result which will survive peer review. Furthermore, this is a field which traditionally wins Nobel prizes. Finally, the internal peer review on these experiments is usually far more rigorous than anything a journal can ever provide. Its difficult to describe this as pseudoscience :).

    Pseudoscience can be characterised.as assertions not backed up by evidence-based reasoning, which brings us to your “prediction” of this all being a farce. What is your evidence for this ?
    I can “predict” that the sun won’t shine tomorrow but unless I have a good reason for this it will be a pretty worthless statement.

  123. @Bushbunny

    One of the major open questions in modern physics is understanding the fundamental forces in the universe and the properties of the fundamental particles.

    Starting back at the beginning of the last century, quantum mechanics was developed, a theory which has never been falsified despite 1000’s of attempts to the contrary. However, quantum mechanics described certain features of atoms but said little about how the forces operate.or the properties of the particles. Quantum field theory was the next development here. The so-called Standard Model is a quantum field theory which predicts the interactions of 3 of the fundamental forces. Like quantum mechanics it has never been falsified (although we’d love to be able to do this). There is one “missing link” in the Standard Model, the Higgs boson. The Higgs boson is a consequence of a part of the Standard Model theory which unifies two of the forces (the weak and electromagnetic force) and also explains why particles have masses. Finding the Higgs would provide experimental confirmation as to why the fundamental particles have masses as well as confirming the correctness of probably the most ambitious theory of nature in history..

    One thing to emphasise is that the theories I’ve mentioned (quantum mechanics, Standard Model) are falsifiable. They make predictions up to just about arbitrary accuracy (up to the machine accuracy of a given computer program making a calculation or the accuracy of algorithms which solve the quantum equations).. Any deviation,, even 1 part per billionm, would be enough to falsify them and signal new physics. The experiments are highly accurate and have so far not falsified them. One on hand this is all a real success of modern science. On the other hand, we need to break a theory to go further. .

  124. Tilo
    The Dirac equation is an incorporation of special relativity into quantum physics.

    The challenge is somehow getting gravity (general relativity) in a quantum picture. For various reasons (theoretical + weakness of gravity i.e. no observed quantum gravity effects which could guide us) this is very difficult.

  125. Leif Svalgaard

    You write that this all “doesn’t cut it in [your] book”. Can you point out what the experiments should have done here. An update is scheduled and the results represent a huge amount of progress in the investigation of a major open question in modern physics (the origin of mass). Do you think we should cancel the planned update ?

    There is a lot of interest (justifiable in my opinion) and the results are interesting. The threshold for discovery (5 sigma) is arbitrary though something we’ll stick to since we decided this in advance. That said, there is now a wealth of strong evidence that the Higgs has been found. Are we to keep quiet about this ?

  126. Roger says:
    July 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    It’s an excellent point that you make. One of our core assumptions within the standard model is most likely false – and at the moment – no one can see it.

    A noble prize and fame on the level of Newton and Einstein to the scientist who discovers the next paradigm.

  127. Stephen Richards

    This is how science is done. We make updates according to our fixed deadlines. All experiments do it. It allows the field to compare overall progress in a coherent way.

    You write ” the worst possible reason to make an announcement of a non-discovery.”. I’m afraid you really don’t know what you’re talking about. The “non-discovery” is the reporting of the news of an extremely strong signal for the Higgs boson for the first time in history (after 40 years of searching). The “5 sigma” rule is arbitrary but we stick to it for ethical reasons i.e. don’t change the criteria. However, this does not effect the strength of the results. There is absolutely no reason to believe that a signal at 4.9 sigma is much more likely to be spurious than one at 5 sigma.

    Perhaps you ought to acquaint yourself with some detail before commenting on a topic.

  128. follow all the rules, but if you don’t get the catch on the scales…DQ means no trophy, no prizes…only belief of winning catch…faith!

  129. That’s that.. Five sigmas in various channels and the CERN DG declaring we’ve got it. I was amazed by the cheering. This was a great moment in science.

  130. Stephen says:
    July 3, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Hi :)
    I’ll try to clear up some concerns raised here:
    ….

    Thanks for all of that. It is very informative, and fills in much of my lack of understanding of the subject. It is amazingly clear for such a complex topic.

  131. Roger
    Thank you for your many informative comments. As a non-scientist I enjoy trying to get a glimmer of a hint of what such research and discovery is all about, even if I can’t follow the serious details.

    I do think that the sometimes harsh (and unfounded) remarks here about particle physicists etc. are in reaction to certain bad practices in climate science — it’s an indication that ALL good scientists across all other fields and specialties have a strong interest in seeing climatology cleaned up and straightened out. To so many of us “science” and “scientists” are broad brush strokes (of course there are many here with far more knowledge and experience than I have), and so bad actors in any field of science contributes to this unfortunate atmosphere.

    Anyway, a hearty congratulations on such a major milestone in recent physics research!

  132. Oops:

    I made a big typo in my big comment above. I meant to say that only ATLAS and CMS could hope to detect it and verify each other’s findings. CERN is the overall institute which runs the LHC, not a particular experiment.

  133. Stephen,
    And thanks to you also for your exceptionally informative explanations. Very much appreciated by me and I’m sure many others.
    p.s. I caught your typo on first quick read, which made me feel like a well-informed layperson, ha ha. But then I have physicist friends who have been talking about CERN forever, it seems like….

  134. The God-particle was an idea by gnostic quasi-Hindu sophists eight thousand years ago. They took difficult wisdom and decided it would be easier to think of it as a substance of some sort, easier to respect a thingy. They transferred the religious word meaning to that of a scientistic one: the word is still in use — prakriti. (God-particle).

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