Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Higgs is here

As promised, here is the upshot of today's press conference at CERN. They did stick their necks out after all, although with caveats and caution, as befitting careful experimental physicists. The press release said, “We observe in our data clear signs of a new particle, at the level of 5 sigma, in the mass region around 126 GeV. The outstanding performance of the LHC and ATLAS and the huge efforts of many people have brought us to this exciting stage,” said ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti,“but a little more time is needed to prepare these results for publication.”

 The spokesperson for the other experiment was equally clear and equally cautious. "The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found,” said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela.“The implications are very significant and it is precisely for this reason that we must be extremely diligent in all of our studies and cross-checks."

There is no doubt that a new boson has been found, with Higgs like properties. The magic number 5 sigma is found by combining more than one decay mode, which some people cavil at. This may be the Standard model Higgs, or it may have properties beyond the Standard model. However, the bottom line is exactly what the Director General of CERN said. “We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “The discovery of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle’s properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe.”

This blog post is by Neelima Gupte and Sumathi Rao.

So there were fireworks on the 4th of July, after all!

 Tailpiece: A Higgs boson walks into a bar, and slaps a large denomination Euro note on the counter. `A big one', it says, ' I've been discovered'.  The bar tender says, `Are you the one they've been looking  for?' `Who cares? ' sniffs the boson. `If I'm not the one, it's even better'.

@ Rahul Siddharthan: Take a look at this link We blogged a lot on the Higgs last year, and a great deal of the story is here, jokes and all.


AmOK said...

What's next then? Plus this is A Higgs, maybe not THE Higgs.

Neelima said...

Amok, pl see tailpiece.

AmOK said...

Yes quite!! Good one. How many Nobels now is the only question remaining. One dozen or half dozen Laureates?

Rahul Siddharthan said...

I'm sure you've seen this before, but -- the Higgs boson walks into a church. The priest says "We don't allow your kind in here."

The Higgs boson says, "But without me, you can't have mass."

AmOK said...

Yes of course! Same one who, when refused admission to Harvard, pointed out that without Higgs Harvard would have been homeless as USA would have no Mass.

Neelima said...

@Amok, we can start a series on `how many physicists does it need to get a Nobel for the Higgs'. As far as I know, the limit is three. There is some protocol for big experimental collaborations. After all, the LHC is not the first collider. Leon Lederman got it for missing several Nobels, and cribbing about this fact!

@Rahul Siddharthan, there's a link for
you at the bottom of the post.