Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chasing the Higgs boson

Today's NY Times Science Times is all about Chasing the Higgs. The articles are by Dennis Overbye, who also wrote an Einstein biography.

I do think that the discovery of the Higgs boson is the most remarkable confirmation of theory in the history of science. The particle was both essential to the established theory, and unlike anything that had ever been seen before. I cannot think of another discovery that was more spectacular on both counts.


  1. Perhaps the neutrino was a close second (and much cheaper).

  2. The neutrino was just predicted as the missing energy to satisfy the conservation laws. That is all anyone could say about it. I guess you could say that the Higgs is just there to break some symmetries, but there was a specific mathematical theory about it.

  3. The old proverb:
    Don't count your chickens before they've hatched
    Also applies to exotic particles.
    A large particle may have been found. Is it a Higgs Boson, that IS the question? As it is described by the standard model due to a mathematical necessity created by a gauge theory which didn't agree with experiment unless a handy dandy higgs field 'spontaneously' (<--magically, as in without explained process) broke symmetry to allow for... I've heard this all somewhere before....This sounds like "The theory that Jack Built" in a Space Child's Mother Goose. Read it, and let me know if any unease seeps into the rosey colored view of the higgs particle 'discovery'. Strange that so many would be so convinced of so much from so little but a monte carlo blip of a confirmation based on a particle created for the specific purpose of allowing a paper to be published. I cheerfully await the first actual test of this 'discovery' to see if what you have caught in your mathematical net is the bird you were actually looking for... I'm absolutely positivly almost uncertain that when the moment arrives, no one could possibly be left with postulated egg on their faces when the bird in the net turns out after all to be a red herring.
    Until you know what's in the box, don't get excited. It could be a blast, or a dud, or just a dead cat, but in the meantime, it's just an uncollapsed probability that may or may not stink to high heaven when you actually find out.

  4. [Mr. Spock:] "Fascinating." I've read of the champagne fests and so forth. Asked a physics friend if it's real, or just a dodge for more funding -- no response yet.

    As in that old episode of 'Simpsons' where the kid prizes the new copy of 'Sad Sack' comic book, gazing at the cover ('The Death of Sad Sack') and exclaims: "This better not be another fake-out !!"

  5. The latest results indicate that the Higgs particle is sticking to the Standard Model's script, but the confidence levels for the two decay modes also have room for improvement. Its "two [decay] modes still have very large errors associated with them. We don't have those nailed down yet," Gordon said. http://ow.ly/j95wa