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Old 07-02-2012, 10:55 AM   #1
Daithi
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Higgs Boson (God Particle) Discovered

I know there are a few science minded people here on MobileRead, and I was curious about your thoughts on news stories that the Higgs Boson has been discovered (sort of).

Several news stories have reported that on Wednesday the physicists at CERN are expected to announce they have found "footprints" and the "shadow" of the Higgs Boson (the so called God Particle). I find these footprint/shadow statements rather bewildering. It has always been my understanding that we have never seen *ANY* particles. The existence of all particles has been inferred. Several decades ago they were inferred from bubbles in cloud chambers, but now we have sophisticated computers that exam the results of high energy impacts, but they still don't actually "see" the particles. It is just more sophisticated cloud chambers. Why is it that they can definitively say a Strange Quark and a Muon exists based on inference, but only say that there are footprints and shadows of the Higgs Boson?

Last edited by Daithi; 07-02-2012 at 10:57 AM. Reason: grammar fix
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Old 07-02-2012, 03:05 PM   #2
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Old 07-03-2012, 07:02 AM   #3
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I don't pretend to understand this, but reading the paper this morning an announcement is expected tomorrow apparently. The speculation is that this will be announcing that the confidence level in the evidence they have been able to observe has been upped.

The confidence level is currently sigma 2 (about a 1 in 20 chance that the results that indicate the presence of the Higgs boson were produced by chance). The threshold that they have set for 'proof' is sigma 5 (about a 1 in 1.7 million chance). They may announce sigma 3 or sigma 4 tomorrow, the big news would be a sigma 5.

Apparently, Professor Higgs has been invited to the announcement, so that's fuelling speculation that it's a major breakthrough.

My favourite part of the story (in The Times today) was the final sentence. The announcement is being made on the eve of an international physics conference in Melbourne, "Australian scientists complain that not only would an announcement of the Higgs scoop the conference but, more importantly, it could clash with their opening drinks reception".

Wouldn't want the discovery of the 'God particle' messing up a perfectly good drinking session now, would we?
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:43 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bilbo1967 View Post
I don't pretend to understand this, but reading the paper this morning an announcement is expected tomorrow apparently. The speculation is that this will be announcing that the confidence level in the evidence they have been able to observe has been upped.

The confidence level is currently sigma 2 (about a 1 in 20 chance that the results that indicate the presence of the Higgs boson were produced by chance). The threshold that they have set for 'proof' is sigma 5 (about a 1 in 1.7 million chance). They may announce sigma 3 or sigma 4 tomorrow, the big news would be a sigma 5.

Apparently, Professor Higgs has been invited to the announcement, so that's fuelling speculation that it's a major breakthrough.

My favourite part of the story (in The Times today) was the final sentence. The announcement is being made on the eve of an international physics conference in Melbourne, "Australian scientists complain that not only would an announcement of the Higgs scoop the conference but, more importantly, it could clash with their opening drinks reception".

Wouldn't want the discovery of the 'God particle' messing up a perfectly good drinking session now, would we?
LOL on the drinking interruption.

And, thanks Bilbo, on the explanation of why they see footprints and shadows when it is all footprints and shadows. That actually makes perfect sense.
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daithi View Post
I know there are a few science minded people here on MobileRead, and I was curious about your thoughts on news stories that the Higgs Boson has been discovered (sort of).

Several news stories have reported that on Wednesday the physicists at CERN are expected to announce they have found "footprints" and the "shadow" of the Higgs Boson (the so called God Particle). I find these footprint/shadow statements rather bewildering. It has always been my understanding that we have never seen *ANY* particles. The existence of all particles has been inferred. Several decades ago they were inferred from bubbles in cloud chambers, but now we have sophisticated computers that exam the results of high energy impacts, but they still don't actually "see" the particles. It is just more sophisticated cloud chambers. Why is it that they can definitively say a Strange Quark and a Muon exists based on inference, but only say that there are footprints and shadows of the Higgs Boson?
I'm detecting a particle of skepticism in your tone.
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:13 PM   #6
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Looking forward to the announcement (and fireworks) tomorrow. I just heard that Peter Higgs himself may participate.

There was also some corroborating info announced by Fermilab:

http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local...161192825.html
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Old 07-03-2012, 12:14 PM   #7
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The Standard Model predicts the Higg Boson, and it works for all particle physics...except you have to plug in 19 variables with particular values, for which there is no explanation.

Also the Zero Vacuum energy predicted by the Standard Model is off by an order of magnitude of 58 (that's 58 zeros behind the number) to what is actually observed. (But that's not particle physics, sniff the physicists.)

Other than that, no problems...
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Old 07-03-2012, 02:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vivaldirules View Post
I'm detecting a particle of skepticism in your tone.
Not so much skepticism as to wondering why the criteria for existence seemed different for the Higgs than other particles, but Bilbo cleared up my confusion.
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Old 07-05-2012, 07:28 PM   #9
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I'm endlessly fascinated by this story. And in another forum discovered this, which doesn't so much explain the Higgs Boson, as what they're doing at CERN. Still, one of the clearest, most entertaining attempts at putting it across:

https://vimeo.com/41038445
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Old 07-05-2012, 07:37 PM   #10
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Occam must be rolling over in his grave by now!
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Old 07-05-2012, 07:47 PM   #11
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Occam must be rolling over in his grave by now!
that goes straight over my head. why, wodin?
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Old 07-05-2012, 07:53 PM   #12
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that goes straight over my head. why, wodin?

Because:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ralph Sir Edward View Post
The Standard Model predicts the Higg Boson, and it works for all particle physics...except you have to plug in 19 variables with particular values, for which there is no explanation.

Also the Zero Vacuum energy predicted by the Standard Model is off by an order of magnitude of 58 (that's 58 zeros behind the number) to what is actually observed. (But that's not particle physics, sniff the physicists.)

Other than that, no problems...
The more they try to rationalize it the more complex the standard model becomes. At some point they will need to realize that they are following the wrong trail, they just haven't been able to conceptualize an alternative.
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Old 07-06-2012, 05:09 AM   #13
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Because:
The more they try to rationalize it the more complex the standard model becomes. At some point they will need to realize that they are following the wrong trail, they just haven't been able to conceptualize an alternative.
thanks! i think you may be right there...
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Old 07-07-2012, 06:17 AM   #14
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Because:



The more they try to rationalize it the more complex the standard model becomes. At some point they will need to realize that they are following the wrong trail, they just haven't been able to conceptualize an alternative.
Well, I wouldn't really consider the concept of space/time/reality simple...
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Old 07-07-2012, 11:21 AM   #15
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Well, I wouldn't really consider the concept of space/time/reality simple...
But therein lies perhaps our problem! I don't either, but it wouldn't surprise me if it turned out the reason this looks complex and complicated to us is that we are either too close up to or too far from the thing we are looking at; if there was, at the basis of 'it all' a beautifully simple and elegant principle that amounts to something we could, in fact, call a 'truth'...
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