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New boson discovered, probably Higgs

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July 4, 2012

A proton-proton collision observed by CMS produces two high-energy photons - behavior cons...

A proton-proton collision observed by CMS produces two high-energy photons - behavior consistent with the decay of a Higgs boson (Image: CERN)

Numbers are yet to be crunched and the data analysis goes on, but one thing appears to be certain: scientists at CERN have discovered a new boson, and it's probably the Higgs particle, the missing particle of the Standard Model which is thought to lend all matter its mass. Both the ATLAS and CMS experiments at CERN observe a new particle with mass between 125 and 126 GeV, comfortably within the band of possible Higgs masses previously identified.

"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 Joe Incandela of the CMS experiment. "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."

The "5 sigma" Incandela refers to is a statement of the statistical significance of the findings. ATLAS physicist Brian Cox contextualized this on Twitter, explaining that "4 sigma roughly means that you'd expect that you're 99.99 percent certain about it," while "5 sigma is the usual particle physics threshold for discovery. It roughly means that you're 99.9999 percent sure." In this case, the "5 sigma" expresses the certainty of a new particle having been discovered.

CMS and ATLAS are separate particle detectors run by distinct research terms at the Large Hadron Collider. That they have both independently discovered the new boson is significant. However, CERN language has stopped short of declaring this an absolute discovery of the Higgs particle. Though the particle fits the description of the Higgs boson, further analysis of its properties is required.

"Positive identification of the new particle's characteristics will take considerable time and data," said a CERN press release. "But whatever form the Higgs particle takes, our knowledge of the fundamental structure of matter is about to take a major step forward."

The preliminary findings were revealed at a press conference today. Peter Higgs, who first proposed the existence of the particle, was seen in tears at the conclusion of the event, which ended with rapturous applause.

Though there's an understandable air of caution, the mood in the room could not be categorized as doubtful. "We are entering the era of Higgs measurements," said Fabiola Gianotti, head of ATLAS. CERN Director General Rolf-Dieter Heuer went further still. "I think we have it. Do you agree," he asked. Those in attendance replied enthusiastically in the affirmative.

Source: CERN

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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5 Comments

All the matter we can see amounts to about 4% of the universe. Let's hope this is a more exotic version than the Standard Model Higgs, which would merely confirm understanding of how particles and forces interact. An exotic Higgs could lead to comprehension of that other 96% of the universe, and this is how I believe (after 30 years of research) that it must all work -

I began by writing the following email to America’s Discover magazine (it was about an article of theirs concerning Julian Barbour). Unintentionally, my email started talking about a subject which fascinates me – the Higgs boson/field (I’ve been thinking about this for years, and I spent hours deciding on the best words to use in a short email). I used Albert Einstein’s theories to come to the conclusion that what we call the Higgs is our name for ALL particles (not simply this one or that one) being composed of quantum mechanical "wave packets" formed by the union of gravitons and photons – the notion of the Higgs actually being all particles implies that its possible discovery by the Large Hadron Collider would be another experimental verification of the existence of quantum entanglement in time and space and on Earth. In turn, gravitons and photons – along with all time and space - are composed of electronic binary digits (this may be termed the Higgs field).* I suspect this idea of binary digits composing space-time is highly unfashionable in the present worldview of quantum fluctuation. Also, people believe in strictly linear time where effects do not influence causes, but the “binary digits” idea requires a looping subroutine where electronics from the future is transmitted nearly 15 billion years into the past in order to create the subuniverse we currently inhabit (on a separate note, I believe we live in an infinite universe made up of subuniverses shaped like figure-8 Klein bottles that are made flexible enough to seamlessly – except for wormholes – fit into each other by their construction from binary digits). Dark matter could be explained as matter travelling from future to past, or past to future, which is invisible but still has gravitational effects. Dark energy could be explained as gravity or space-time (i.e. the product of binary digits) being programmed to accelerate and expand (I prefer to regard acceleration/expansion being the result of more space-time continually being created, which is what the Big Bang’s rival – Steady State theory – proposes). Anyway, the unfashionableness of my ideas does not automatically make them wrong.

* The University of Edinburgh scientist Peter Higgs pointed out that the Higgs field would produce its own quantum particle (the Higgs boson) if hit hard enough, by the right amount of energy. The Higgs field is the name given to the unification of space-time by the binary digits creating it. Therefore, the Higgs boson would necessarily indicate this unification and “…its possible discovery by the Large Hadron Collider would be another experimental verification of the existence of quantum entanglement in time and space and on Earth.” Why does data from the LHC “… see tantalising hints consistent with making Higgs bosons with a mass of around 125 times as heavy as the proton?” (http://www.ph.ed.ac.uk/higgs/laypersons-guide) I don’t know why there are hints at this specific mass. I can only suggest that we use quantum physics’ wave-particle duality and think of all the subatomic particles in the universe – and throughout all time – as a beam of light from a torch. If the circle of light cast by the torch represents all subatomic particles, then the centre of that circle (which is its brightest part) represents the masses’ energy of 125 billion electron volts (125 times as heavy as a proton).

Here’s the email I sent to Discover –

I'd like to comment on the article "Is Einstein's Greatest Work All Wrong—Because He Didn't Go Far Enough?" by Zeeya Merali (March 2012 issue).

"Long before Einstein, (Austrian physicist and philosopher Ernst) Mach had advocated a ‘truly relative’ theory, in which objects were positioned only in relation to other tangible objects—Earth relative to sun, pub relative to farmhouse—and not against any abstract background grid." (“Is Einstein’s Greatest Work …”)

This makes sense as long as we assume that space-time is an unverifiable abstract grid and matter, such as objects, is the only component of reality.

"When forced to summarize the general theory of relativity in one sentence, Einstein said: time and space and gravitation have no separate existence from matter." - PHYSICS: ALBERT EINSTEIN’S THEORY OF RELATIVITY at http://www.spaceandmotion.com

Einstein's thinking claims that space-time is as much a part of reality as matter is, and his thinking can potentially be verified by the Large Hadron Collider. This is because the Higgs boson/field sought by the LHC could turn out to be a non-Standard-Model Higgs where subatomic particles are composed of quantum mechanical "wave packets" formed by the union of gravitation's gravitons. To give matter a different appearance from gravity, this union could include electromagnetism's photons. The amplitude of gravity waves might taper from a central point to the sides while the amplitude of electromagnetic waves remains constant - in which case electromagnetism would be modified gravitation and Einstein would have been correct when he said gravitation and electromagnetism may be related.

Since the great physicist claimed gravitation is the warping of space-time, time and space would have no separate existence from matter and would be the ultimate composition of the non-Standard-Model Higgs particle. Continuing from Einstein's deductions, space-time cannot simply be an abstract background but must be composed of something, or else it could not give rise to the matter we see, touch, and probe with instruments. But that something also gives rise to immaterial space, time, and gravity. What could be the source of things we see, and also of things we do not see? Why not the electronic binary digits of 1 and 0? After all, we can view a webpage but can never view its ultimate composition.

So Julian Barbour’s approach is only good for people who only believe in what they can see. Albert Einstein’s approach is the one to follow if we ever hope to achieve a Unified Field Theory or Theory of Everything which has meaning in physics, as opposed to purely in mathematics. A mathematically defined unified field could be accurate and detailed, but it would only be relevant to mathematicians and would therefore be somewhat abstract. A physical unified field would be relevant to everybody, enabling us to understand and manipulate both what we can and can’t see in the universe.

Facebook User
4th July, 2012 @ 04:12 am PDT

Ok

I think Rodney should get a prize for "The most detailed comment on a magazine article in human history".

AdrianS
5th July, 2012 @ 03:36 am PDT

OK

I think Rodney should realize that until he can present the math, his ideas, along with mine and millions of others from a bunch of other wanna-be physicists, are simply ideas with a lot of speculative "could"s and "would"s, not theories. Sorry, that's science.

Further, the following makes no sense at all:

Rodney Bartlett: "A mathematically defined unified field could be accurate and detailed, but it would only be relevant to mathematicians and would therefore be somewhat abstract. A physical unified field would be relevant to everybody, enabling us to understand and manipulate both what we can and can’t see in the universe."

So far, EVERYTHING in physics has been proven by mathematics as the math directly predicts and matches what happens physically. In fact, in many cases, it is the math that leads to testable theories. How are they testable? When the math says this and that should be observable, and we test for the observation, the results tell us whether the theory is a keeper or not. Your idea of a "physical" unified field theory makes no sense as there would be no way to know if the idea is anything more than a pipe dream. Currently, EVERYTHING in physics is formalized and formulated by math. That is the only way that we truly know and can know what is happening on realms that we might not ever see or touch. A purely physical theory has no basis for computation ergo prediction. It was math that led to the concept of the standard model: something that ultimately emerges physically.

It is definitely true that ideas can inspire our mathematical explorations down particular paths, but the ideas alone cannot be counted on for more than dogma. That's why Einstein waited to present his ideas with math instead of simple physical descriptions. Likewise with Quantum Theory.

Perhaps, you're missing a fundamental truth about math: it is the math that directly implies the physical reality; therefore, a mathematical unified field theory IS a physical unified field theory. The problem remains, however, that the scales on which it seems unification exists are, for now, inaccessible to us, and therefore, untestable. A purely physical theory, if indeed such a thing could exist and be trusted, would not be testable either. String Theory is a grand idea. Look how diligently String theorists are laboring to strengthen their theory by math. If it were enough to simply state "Bingo!" for a physical theory without sound mathematics that mesh well and agree with other validated theories, String theorists would've concluded their work and celebrated long ago.

kalqlate
5th July, 2012 @ 01:38 pm PDT

If it is not the Higgs then it is something more amazing!

Kostas Pappas
17th July, 2012 @ 04:45 am PDT

If I understand Mr. Barrett's point correctly, his key observation is this: "So Julian Barbour’s approach is only good for people who only believe in what they can see."

In other words, math as the chosen vehicle for measurement of any sort of theory is in itself limited. It might be akin to supposing that one can verify the colour of an elephant by observing it with one's ears.

If that's what he's saying, then I believe I agree with him. Kalqlate's assertion that "it is the math that directly implies the physical reality" is at the heart of the debate. My question: is it? I'm not so sure. There is agreement with the notion that finding a vehicle for testing a hypothesis might not be accessible to us at the moment. Indeed, is it possible that mankind may never be able to fashion one - given that our own existence is so limited?

It's why the whole thing seems so "chicken and egg" in its scope.

wolfshades
17th July, 2012 @ 12:45 pm PDT
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