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Matt Phillips
8/05/2012 1:52pm,
I recently reacted on a fellow Bully calling a new paper on the Higgs Boson experiment "(T)he most important paper printed since science was invented". When he asked me to explain, I sent him the following:


Here's the problem: the experiment is designed to detect a certain signal in the midst of a background of similar signals, like detecting the loud popping of a balloon while people are applauding. This is accomplished by estimating the probability distribution for the total volume of sound in the room (for this example) at various levels for *just the background applause*, and comparing that to the observed volume levels during the time you think a balloon may have been popped. Since we have a theory that predicts a defined range for the amount of sound such a popping balloon would make, we define the baseline applause to be the 'bottom' of some parameter Mu, and let Mu=0 represent it. Next we let Mu=1 represent the expected level for background+popping balloon, make our recording, and see what levels Mu took. Keeping the analogy, what was discovered is this: the level of Mu is high, implying that there was more than just applause, but the value of Mu is right on the extreme edge of what we would expect for a popping balloon. In fact it it just slightly *over that line*. This is because the level of uncertainty in our experiment forces us to put that line in a certain place (and not because, say, there really was no popping balloon). Our experiment confirms that something made a big noise consistent with a popping balloon, but the experiment is not quite powerful enough to rule out the cause being something else because what was detected is slightly LOUDER than the theory predicted for the max volume of a popping balloon.

This paper presents compelling evidence that a new particle was detected, and that its observed properties are consistent with the predicted properties of the Higgs, but it does not exclude other possibilities. And these other possibilities have their own implications for the Standard Model. They even say as much in the paper.

You can find the original paper here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.7214.

Essentially, the media is slightly overstating what was accomplished. Do I think the Higgs Boson was discovered in June 2012? Probably. But this paper doesn't nail it down, yet because the experiment was not quite powerful enough to resolve the question from the particular data that was collected.

As I write this one of my neighbor's kids is throwing a fit upstairs. I can tell it's not the 3 year old, and I can tell it's not any of the girls, but I can't quite tell if it's the 10 year old son, or the 12 year old son because I can't quite make out what he's shrieking about.

Happy sciencing :) don't believe everything you think

goodlun
8/05/2012 2:01pm,
Overreaction? Maybe.
Implications if right are pretty cool.
Of course not as cool as say being able to manipulate said particles, now that would be awesome.

Also thank you for the very good analogy as to how the experiment was performed.

lordbd
8/05/2012 2:02pm,
More importantly, that experiment was supposed to end the world in a giant black-hole or something wasn't it?

Well science has failed to deliver once again, and now my only hope is that the Mayan's were right. Otherwise I'll have to pay my credit card bill.

Stupid science.

Matt Phillips
8/05/2012 2:03pm,
Overreaction? Maybe.
Implications if right are pretty cool.

Well, yeah that's what I was saying...

mike321
8/05/2012 3:14pm,
So help me out here. When I heard about this, my initial thought wasn't a technology leap, rather the best physics minds would be able to move forward on developing theories. Am I on the right track here or is this a big deal for technology?

Matt Phillips
8/05/2012 3:46pm,
So help me out here. When I heard about this, my initial thought wasn't a technology leap, rather the best physics minds would be able to move forward on developing theories. Am I on the right track here or is this a big deal for technology?
For sure any major refinement of the Standard Theory is going to have major implications, and the theory is already refined even if they stop with this paper.

It is Fake
8/05/2012 4:29pm,
More importantly, that experiment was supposed to end the world in a giant black-hole or something wasn't it?

Well science has failed to deliver once again, Not yet. He said it wasn't powerful enough. Give them time.

goodlun
8/05/2012 4:32pm,
So help me out here. When I heard about this, my initial thought wasn't a technology leap, rather the best physics minds would be able to move forward on developing theories. Am I on the right track here or is this a big deal for technology?
The thing is from my limited understanding is it hasn't really held up physics, I do believe a lot of physicists where already working under the assumption that this is indeed the way things are. This will help, but I don't think its some great leap. Really until they can do applied physics with it.....

W. Rabbit
8/05/2012 7:51pm,
The most interesting thing about this discovery (indeed one of the reasons Higgs is so important) is to help explain why the Universe formed and expanded the way it did, asymmetrically. The quantum effects of Higgs could (should) be the reason why the Universe formed any mass at all, instead of staying a perfectly symmetric sphere of expanding energy. It could have big implications in finding other as-yet-discovered bosons, like the graviton.

Considering the (very short) amount of time LHC has been active at this energy level, the fact that they've already discovered a new fundamental particle is pretty astounding.

Now it is a fact, as the work shows, that a new fundamental boson has indeed been detected. It is also a fact that it resembles the expected parameters of Higgs very, very closely, but that additional experimentation needs to be performed.

But if the new fundamental particle somehow isn't Higgs, it's still new. Either it is Higg's, confirming something searched for almost 50 years, or it is a new type of boson, which would still require a re-evaluation of the standard model.

I will break out my Hawking books to remind myself what else he had to say about Higgs' significance...can't recall at the moment.

battlefields
8/05/2012 7:56pm,
Checkmate, Atheists.

W. Rabbit
8/05/2012 7:58pm,
Another thing to mention about Higgs/Not Higgs is that it would settle (reduce) a number of competing physical theories...and there is nothing cooler than when physics theorems get smashed to pieces...literally.

If LHC has found Higgs, all of these alternate models get tossed:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgsless_model

battlefields
8/05/2012 8:01pm,
Dammit, respond to my feigned ignorance.

Okay, one thing I need cleared up. The God Particle, was it originally theorised as The Goddamn Particle because they couldn't nail it down, and it was shortened to be more palatable to a wider readership? Or should I stop getting my information from beer caps?

mike321
8/05/2012 8:17pm,
Wow, this thread makes more sense than 90% of new articles. I did not even consider how short a time the collider has been in use

W. Rabbit
8/05/2012 8:23pm,
Dammit, respond to my feigned ignorance.

Okay, one thing I need cleared up. The God Particle, was it originally theorised as The Goddamn Particle because they couldn't nail it down, and it was shortened to be more palatable to a wider readership? Or should I stop getting my information from beer caps?

That was Leon Lederman, director of Fermilab, who coined the term Goddamned Particle. His book publisher did not like it so they named it The God Particle. The original title of his book was "The Goddamned Particle: If the Universe is the Answer What is the Question?"

Peter Higgs himself (who is still alive at 83) is an atheist and dislikes the term "God Particle".

battlefields
8/05/2012 8:33pm,
An atheist who doesn't like the idea of an ever-present and universally binding particle that exhibits an unknown force throughout the universe? Shocking.

W. Rabbit
8/05/2012 8:35pm,
Actually it's just because he's a really nice guy and doesn't want to offend religious people.

What a kind, considerate atheist.

http://i.imgur.com/qooUt.jpg