Higgs Boson Makes Me Laugh

The whole Higgs Boson thing is really interesting. Not only was is not discovered over the last several months, but in a way that makes it certain that it exists, but for other reasons as well. Higgs himself predicted its existence a very long time ago and was told by the greats that it really can’t exist, so he should be a model for all those people with Theories … like “they didn’t believe Higgs either, so I must be right!” … but instead the usual suspects have lined up (at least in the spam section of my blogs) to tell us how the Higgs Particle itself is a conspiracy.

Another thing is this whole wave-particle duality shtick. The Higgs is a wobbly gobbly everywherish gooblygop, for sure, but even though it is everywhere and affects everything, a tiny bit of it has to be ripped from the space-time continuum and turned into a piece of cosmic lint before we can “see” it, and even then we can’t really “see” it very well.

Also, I’m trying to remember what the social and cultural reaction were to the earlier discoveries of various particles. The term “smashing the atom” seems to have come from some of this early work. Most of what I remember of the earliest particles being discovered was conveyed to me after the fact reading Azimov’s Intelligent Mans Guide To the Physical Science, which I believe is no longer in print.

Were earlier discovered similar in their social and cultural effects or different? Anybody remember?

By the time that book was written in 1964, about twenty “particles” or wavy goobldy gobbly things (like “heat rays”) had been discovered. Since then, about a dozen. Here I note that the Higgs Boson is undiscoverable by Wikipedia. The “Timeline of Particle Discoveries” entry does not list the Higgs…doesn’t use the word Higgs on the list (though it is in the intro and elsewhere). Apparently, what happened yesterday was an unverified report of an excited neutral X-b baryon[citation needed]

Which leads us to the question of whether or not it was actually discovered. The New York Times says it was found: “Physicists Find Elusive Particle Seen as Key to Universe” … but was it really? What really happened, according to that report, was a bit more dramatic while at the same time being very subtle indeed:

Like Omar Sharif materializing out of the shimmering desert as a man on a camel in “Lawrence of Arabia,” the elusive boson has been coming slowly into view since last winter, as the first signals of its existence grew until they practically jumped off the chart.

And the top quark himself clarifies in case you were wondering if they really found it or not:

“I think we have it,” said Rolf-Dieter Heuer, the director general of CERN .. He and others said that it was too soon to know for sure…For now, some physicists are simply calling it a “Higgslike” particle

OK, whatever. What if its not “Higgs” but rather “Higgslike” in every possible respect? What do we do then?

Comments

  1. #1 Joffan
    July 5, 2012

    If it walks like a Higgs and quarks like a Higgs…

  2. #2 Martin
    July 5, 2012

    NO…not “Higgslike” in every possible respect, but only in three respects…predicted mass (>125GeV), spin (none) and charge (none). They have to do extensive analysis on the decay paths to determine if it carries any color charge (strong force interadtion) and how it interacts with the weak force carriers. I believe after that then there exist several other predicted properties of the Higg’s boson that will have to be verified..

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    July 5, 2012

    Ok, thanks. So it fails to not be higgslike in all known respects, other predicted traits to be determined.

    Question … Do the findings thus far falsify any of the other alternative hypotheses?

  4. #4 M
    July 5, 2012

    On your point about how particle physicists proclaim discovery here is a statement that I think helps a little

    “Leon Lederman notes that “speculation is mounting that a new pair of quarks exists. These have been given such fanciful names as “truth” and “beauty” or, more prosaically, “top and bottom.”

    “The Upsilon fits very nicely into the picture of a super-atom consisting of the bound state of a bottom quark and antiquark. Proof of this hypothesis will depend on a clearer delineation of the mass distribution. This is in progress at Fermilab. Conclusive proof will require the observation of ‘naked bottom’ – that is, particles containing only one bottom quark.” (Fermilab archives, http://history.fnal.gov/botqrk.html)”

    it is really one of those cases that if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, there is a slim possibility that it is a condor in a duck costume.

  5. #5 katesisco
    July 5, 2012

    I suspect that the Higgs is sometimes there and sometimes not–why this discovery is a no-go.

  6. #6 rpenner
    July 5, 2012

    Martin:
    Based on the hour-long press conference, I thought spin-2 had not yet been ruled out. Still waiting to see the papers.

    Also, the particle couples to other quantum fields very much like a Higgs.

  7. #7 rpenner
    July 5, 2012

    Hmmm. There are no papers.

    Here is a 52-page power point from ATLAS (44-45 for punchline): https://indico.cern.ch/getFile.py/access%3FcontribId=1&resId=1&materialId=slides&confId=197461 (mass ~ 126.5 GeV)

    Here is a 116-page power point from CMS (skip to pages 87-91, 107 for the punchline). https://indico.cern.ch/getFile.py/access%3FcontribId=0&resId=0&materialId=slides&confId=197461 (mass ~ 125.3±0.6 GeV)

  8. #8 MadScientist
    July 5, 2012

    The entire history of atomic physics is filled with similar stories. James Clerk Maxwell originally modeled electricity as a fluid with pressure – electricity flowed between regions at different pressure. I think that idea fell apart as he dealt with inductors and electromagnetism but the mathematical model wasn’t thrown away – it still worked very well even though the concept of electricity as a fluid just couldn’t explain things and had to be rejected.

    People laughed at JJ Thompson’s atomic model but some people believed it was OK; two of E. Rutherford’s students later showed that the model was wrong (although Rutherford is credited with debunking the model). Then Niels Bohr showed that Rutherford’s own model was wrong, but people laughed at Bohr, but that was OK because after Rutherford’s model was completely debunked, Bohr’s model was briefly accepted then cast away.

    Frederic Joliot and his wife Irene Curie described nuclear fission and it took people a while to believe them – not long after, a number of physicists including Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard in the USA (I can’t remember the names of the physicists who actually came up with the idea years earlier) said that fission can be exploited to create a superbomb and the Joliot-Curies initially scoffed at the idea.

    As people were playing with fission and nuclear decay in general, so many more claims were made especially by experimentalists – the theoreticians eventually showed that many experimentalists were in fact observing the same phenomenon. Theoreticians weren’t immune from making claims of something new when there wasn’t really something new (it’s tricky since people needed to put together data from experiments done in different labs and sometimes they had to add their own experiments – remember that no one knew all of what we know today and it was difficult to keep in touch with what was going on).

    Note how long ago Higgs made his proposal – he was plugging one of the last holes in the Standard Model as it existed back then. All further refinements since then were relatively few and gained through incredible efforts. A lot of work done over the years has been to refine measurements rather than to discover something new – after all, until things are known with great precision it is not even possible to expose the defects in the models. Higg’s Boson remained a great placeholder in the model but devising an experiment to demonstrate its existence was difficult enough and the technological sophistication required put the experiments out of reach for decades. So what’s happening now is that people get to actually test Higg’s hypothesis and hopefully learn something new and create opportunities to learn even more.

    “Black Holes” were laughed at but now they’re not disputed.

    Other ideas waiting to be tested are dark energy and dark matter. There’s something there and its effects are observable, but can we actually learn something about this dark matter and dark energy?

    Anyway, it’s not at all unusual in science for people to come up with an idea, get laughed at, have their ideas accepted as a decent working model, and later have their models partially if not completely rejected in favor of a newer model. It’s all a part of the learning process.

    Now there are other groups out there whose ideas were initially laughed at by some and rejected by others and over time those ideas have been completely debunked, and other groups and individuals who have been laughed at by most people from the start, and yet those folks whine about how they’re really a Galileo – and yet never offer evidence. Galileo may have been laughed at by some, but he had the evidence to vindicate him.

  9. #9 ppnl
    July 5, 2012

    Erm, actually without the Higgs physics would be up a creek without a paddle as there are no good alternatives. The question now is exactly what properties it has. Some models of super-symmetry require a slightly different set of properties. Finding the exact properties tells us what version of super-symmetry if any is correct. For example there is currently some evidence of an excess decay into the diphoton states.

  10. #10 tarek merouani
    uk
    July 6, 2012

    I think Higgs boson exist and is hidden within the Rugosa corals. I did many experiment on the rugosa corals and they showed all Higgs boson the characteristics.
    to know more just google the 4 lost treasures.

  11. #11 Patrick M. Dennis
    July 6, 2012

    I’m aware of at least two: the 1919 Eddington expedition to view starlight grazing the sun during a solar eclipse received worldwide attention when it apparently confirmed general relativity, and I myself remember as a twelve year old trying to understand what all the fuss was about in 1956 when Yang and Mills reported the violation of parity.

  12. #12 F
    July 6, 2012

    tarek merouani

    And now the Higgs boson makes me laugh.

  13. #13 F
    July 6, 2012

    What do we do? Keep sifting the data that hasn’t been sifted yet. Keep collecting more data, running experiments. Even if they find a Higgs signal, we won’t necessarily know if it is the Higgs or a Higgs. Depends on which model best describes the data, and what the data from the detectors actually provides, and what the experiment design & equipment can measure.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_boson
    It’s a vector boson, so there is that as well.

    No, it won’t be on the fundamental particle chart, it isn’t fully analyzed, let alone described. Like a neglected collection of bones in a museum drawer to which outsiders are denied access, it could take some time to describe, only people are actually looking at the data. There’s an inverse crapbarn* of data.

    * Which Wikipedia failed to include on this chart..

  14. #14 Leonardo Rubino
    Torino (Italy)
    July 7, 2012

    It’s very sad to be always doubtful and suspicious with news coming from what could be the most precious and charming thing: the world of science and of the scientific knowledge.

    Unfortunately, many facts, not negligible, really push you to suspicions and criticisms. ONE CANNOT PRETEND NOT TO NOTICE that, just yesterday, they told us two and two is nine; I’m talking about the story of superluminal neutrinos, later corrected.
    That news shouldn’t even have been proposed and all those who learnt with passion even just some rudiments of relativity and electromagnetism, should immediately keep far; on the contrary, many eminent scientists didn’t do that, but welcomed.

    Read my whole opinion, with all the mathematical and physical explanations, at the following link:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/99445788/Anything-but-Superluminal-Neutrinos-and-Divine-Bosons

    And just to put further irons in the fire, what to say about the dying and unjustifiable dark matter?

    Finally, what to say about the recent news on the Higgs boson, now found: first of all, the scientific environment from which that news comes from is the same one, again. Furthermore, this kind of announcements have got a behaviour in common: they all diverge, instead of converging to a point of common deep knowledge of the Universe. In fact, such a boson just apparently brings an answer to us (on what it would do), but, at the same time, it also brings another half a dozen of new questions (on what it really is and on how it would do what they say it does).
    By summing it up a bit, Higgs boson would give a mass to other particles, through the friction among them and the Higgs’ field!
    It’s like if there is a guy, whose name is Anthony (and I don’t know him) and after long researches and investigations I’m told that Anthony has been introduced to Jennifer by Josephine, through Michael. And so, now, I still don’t know Anthony, but not only: from now on, I do not know also Jennifer, Josephine and Michael…
    In fact, the echo of the news on the Higgs’ boson has not yet faded out and there is already who has (re)started to hunt the superhiggs, in environments with 43 dimensions!

    Thank you for your attention.

    Cordiality.

    Regards.

    Leonardo Rubino.
    leonrubino@yahoo.it

  15. #15 Rainer Kühne
    Braunschweig, Germany
    July 9, 2012
  16. #16 will nattrass
    July 13, 2012

    i completely disagree with Rainer Kuhne, personally i dont think you know what your on about. The higgs bosen has not been discovered and it never will be until scientists create a very large hadron colider (VLHC).

  17. #17 Nathan
    July 15, 2012

    When I first heard of the “God particle” I was excited but soon realized it was just a fancy name. Fancy name or not it’s intriguiging how a “charge” gives mass.
    This is an interesting video on the Higgs Boson.which explains very well
    http://www.allgoodread.com/first/2012/07/cartoon-explains-the-god-particle.html

  18. #18 Charles Scurlock
    enquiriesnw.com
    July 15, 2012

    Of course we all understand that the scientists at CERN have not been flinging tiny billiard balls of stuff at each other in their ten-billion dollar merry-go-round, but have, in fact, been flinging tinier and tinier coherent entanglements of waves of energy at each other. And when you fling a complex of wrinkles in the field at another complex of wrinkles in the field the result is that when the (I hesitate to call it a collision) interaction occurs, it clearly disturbs the field in its immediate region, and generates more wrinkles in the field. Because this new set of wrinkles is so fine, and persists for such a short interval, it naturally seems to behave in some new ways, because we are getting down to or near the finest grain (or weave) of the underlying fabric, the fine grain limit, the frequency of the background electromagnetic field, the frequency of which seems to me must be at or near to 1/h (one over Planck’s Constant).
    Whether the so-called Higgs boson is finally at that level we don’t know yet. But if we continue to deny reality and keep calling these units “particles”, even though we describe all of their characteristics (including mass) as electromagnetic, we’ll continue in our delusions of “wave-particle duality”, “quantum entanglement”, “superposition” and the like and will not be able to get down to the proper mathematical analysis of what we are actuality observing.
    Even the Washington Post allows itself to say, “One way to think of the Higgs field: It’s the water the entire universe swims in.” It’s what a few of us have been saying for a very long time. They (CERN) may be getting close, but it might help to use a more consistent logical terminology.
    In trying to put forth a simpler field theory of physics, I have had to navigate a landscape of so-called “particle” physics and cosmology peopled by experts who are so wedded to the notion of “particles” that they tend to ignore their own fundamental explanations. For example, the Wikipedia article on Quantum Field Theory gives the following interesting definition:
    In QFT, photons are not thought of as “little billiard balls” but are rather viewed as field quanta – necessarily chunked ripples in a field, or “excitations”, that “look like” particles. Fermions, like the electron, can also be described as ripples/excitations in a field, where each kind of fermion has its own field. In summary, the classical visualisation of “everything is particles and fields”, in quantum field theory resolves into “everything is particles”, which then resolves into “everything is fields”. In the end, particles are regarded as excited states of a field (field quanta).
    Fundamentally, I agree with this statement, with some minor qualifications. In my view everything physicists call “particles” should be understood as “excitations” or “oscillations” in a field. And if they are to persist for longer than a microsecond, that is, for long enough to become part of any larger, higher energy entity, they must undergo something like a phase transition to a stable, higher order.
    Where I diverge from the QFT model is that I am convinced that there is one field and that field is primal and is the medium out of which these stable orderly “condensations”, to use Einstein’s term, arise and persist; and what the QFT proponents describe as unique fields associated with each so-called fundamental particle are, in fact, simply distortions in the region of the field surrounding each identifiable stable entity. In other words, there is one field, vibrating at a very high frequency, out of which everything has arisen. All of the so-called “particle fields” are distortions of it, much like the distortions we perceive locally around simple magnets. The primal electromagnetic field is what we have, in our mysterious mystical imaginings, called “dark energy”. It both permeates and surrounds our universe, which is one of its biggest creations. And around the high energy concentrations we identify as stars, galaxies, and clusters are distortions of the field that we can’t yet discern directly but are clearly there, identifiable by their effects. We’ve named those regions “dark matter”.
    Maybe what the experts at CERN and elsewhere have (almost) identified is evidence of my primal field. Maybe the “Higgs boson” is the fundamental wrinkle in the field where it all starts. That would be nice.

  19. #19 Van den Bogaert Joannes
    Belgium
    August 4, 2012

    What about the equation for the proton rest mass on pages 3-4 of Belgian patent BE1002781 mentioned on the “e-Cat Site” in the article “Belgian LANR Patents” downloadable in English (see page 1). According to that equation proton rest mass is the result of spin (angular momentum) electric charge and particle radius. The product of particle radius and mass is constant and electric charge is dualistic (-/+).

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