A Higgs or The Higgs? : CERN’s Higgs quest – Part II

Well, now I must come to the point. I shall not pose self-opinions much here (since I’m not at all an expert). Rather I shall mention some quotes, that may help us to understand that whether it’s a right time to say: We have found the Higgs.

I think, the whole controversy started from CERN’s director general, Rolf-Dieter Heuer’s comment on the day of announcement:

As a layman I would say, I think we have it! You agree?

Definitely many people agreed or had to agree. Now when Heuer was asked for a clear message in the press confo, he made it
more elusive:

As a layman I would say we have it, but as a scientist I have to say, ’what do we have?’

So what do we have? Guess, we don’t know yet!

OK, let me just put a few more quotes:

Peter Higgs:
There’s almost definitely a particle there.
They aren’t absolutely sure this particle is the Higgs but it has some key Higgs-like properties.

(Source: http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/evolution/162362446.html, interviewed by Faye Flam).

Joe Incandela (CMS spokesperson):
As an experimentalist, when we work we have no bias in what we’re seeing. We really want to observe nature. The theory of Higgs led us to look for this particle. We have no prejudgments of nature. We know that the story is not complete …

(Source: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/07/04/breaking-news-we-found-the-higgs-unless-youre-a-scientist/)

Fabiola Gianotti (ATLAS spokesperson):
The Standard Model is not complete. It is not the ultimate theory of particle physics and the dream is to find the ultimate theory and we are seeking that.

(Source: http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/07/04/breaking-news-we-found-the-higgs-unless-youre-a-scientist/)

Fabiola Gianotti (ATLAS spokesperson):
I think we need to be a little patient.

Rolf Heuer:
Well, I think you have to define for me what is “the Higgs boson. If you mean the standard model Higgs boson, then we can’t answer that question at some stage. That will take time because as I said, you have to investigate the properties.”

John Ellis:
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary levels of proof.
(see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fE_Qw_nsMU8&feature=related)

Matthew Chalmers:
LHC data confirm discovery, but not identity, of Higgs-like entity.
(Source: http://www.nature.com/news/physicists-find-new-particle-but-is-it-the-higgs-1.10932)

Lily Asquith
Some people started blogging rumours of a discovery this week. This is bizarre – we only stopped taking data on Monday, and that data (basically just electrical signals) has to pass through a long series of steps to analysis, with each step providing ample opportunity for human error.
(Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/life-and-physics/2012/jun/22/higgs-boson-particlephysics)

Jon Butterworth
Now, it looks like the Higgs boson. Or a Higgs boson. But it might not be.
(Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/life-and-physics/2012/jul/04/higgs-like-discovery-inside )

I believe, the 5 \sigma standard just give you confidence, but doesn’t tell anything about the property. If the boson is the standard model Higgs boson, then it must
be a spin-zero scalar. And there are other Higgs boson candidates which may have spin 2, 3, or something
else (spin-1 possibility has been denied for some reason).

That’s why Bill Murray said, We probably shouldn’t call it the Higgs…’A Higgs’ is the word we strictly use.
(Source: http://www.nature.com/news/physicists-declare-victory-in-higgs-hunt-1.10940)

Probably because of other possibilities, a recent paper came up on the arxiv by
Ian Lowa,b, Joseph Lykkenc, and Gabe Shaughnessy with the title Have We Observed the Higgs (Imposter)?. In the abstract they have said,

We show that current LHC data already strongly disfavor both the dilatonic and non-dilatonic singlet imposters. On the other hand, a generic Higgs doublet and a triplet imposter give equally good fits to the measured event rates of the newly observed scalar resonance, although a Standard Model Higgs boson gives a slightly better overall fit. … We emphasize that more precise measurements of the ratio of event rates in the WW over ZZ channels, as well as the event rates in b\bar{b} and \tau\tau channels, are needed to distinguish the Higgs doublet from the triplet imposter.

So we need to wait to know what kind of Higgs boson it is. But I believe, if it is not
the standard model Higgs, then it’s not the Peter Higgs’ Higgs or the Higgs.

Fine. Now what’s the connection between the Higgs boson and the comic sans?


Courtesy: http://www.quantumdiaries.org/

For more details, see


Useful links:

Cern press release:

Press conference full video: CERN, youtube.


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