New data on elusive particle shrouded in secrecy.

Higgs bosonís last stand - Comment on 2012 June 20

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2012 June 20

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Physicists are crunching new data in the search for the Higgs boson; this is the bosonís last stand. Failure to find the Higgs would require physicists to go back to their blackboards for another method of imputing mass to particles. Read more:

According to the article I read today physicists have envisioned the Higgs boson for 40 years and if it is now found that it does not exist then they have run in the wrong direction for 40 years but during all these 40 years there were quite a number of other physicists who had other ideas and they might then find more ears to listen to them.

Here now excerpts from an article I read today:

 

What they are looking for is the beginning to the end of the longest and most expensive manhunt in the history of physics, one that has involved several generations of larger and larger particle accelerators: the spoor of a hypothetical particle that endows other elementary particles with mass. Known as the Higgs boson, it is the cornerstone of modern physics, but confirmation of its existence has eluded scientists for 40 years.

They are racing to make a deadline to report the results at the International Conference on High Energy Physics, or Ichep, in Melbourne, Australia, starting July 4.

This, all agree, is the bosonís last stand. If the December signal fades, it probably means that the Higgs boson, at least as physicists have envisioned it for the past 40 years, does not exist, and that theorists have to go back to their drawing boards.

Right now, most of the physicists doing the work do not even know what they have. In order to avoid bias, the physicists involved avoided looking at most of the crucial data until last week, when they ďunblendedĒ it. About 500 physicists on each team are analyzing eight different ways a Higgs boson, once produced in the collider, might decay and leave its signature.

They all have to sign off on the final results, making for a very tight timetable.

ďOur final Ichep results will not be even seen by the collaboration before the last day of June and then will require the usual final cosmetics for presentation.Ē

Another possible hangup is that the two groups disagreed slightly last fall on the mass of the putative particle. The Atlas group put it at 124 billion electron volts, while the CMS group came up with 126 billion electron volts, in the units of mass and energy favored by physicists. By comparison, a proton weighs in at one billion electron volts and an electron at half a million.

If the discrepancy persists, it could undermine attempts to reach that statistical rigor.

Failure to find the Higgs would not be the end of the theory in which it is embedded, known as the Standard Model, which has passed every test for 30 years. But it would require physicists to go back to their blackboards for another method of imputing mass to particles.

 

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