I was busy with other stuff when this hit the blogs, but I did want to at least comment in passing on Fermilab's announcement that it still hasn't found the Higgs Boson. Detailed commentary is available from Tommaso Dorigo and John Conway.
If you're not a physicist, or even just not a particle physicist, it might seem a little surprising that "We still haven't found the Higgs" is worthy of a press release, let alone actual excitement. The important thing about the result is that they have been able to say (relatively) definitively that the Higgs boson does not exist in a certain range of masses. Since they don't actually know the mass of the particle they're looking for, this represents progress. The process of looking for new physics is not just a matter of waiting for that "Eureka!" moment when a big signal jumps out of the noise. It's also about carefully and systematically excluding parameter ranges from the search-- essentially, measuring nothing with greater and greater precision.
You might be saying "Boy, I bet that takes a special type of personality..." and yeah, you're probably right. I know I couldn't do it. It's always good to be reminded that scientific progress doesn't always come with a "Wow!" or even a "Boink!", but sometimes a quiet "That didn't work, either."
"It's always good to be reminded that scientific progress doesn't always come with a "Wow!" or even a "Boink!", but sometimes a quiet "That didn't work, either."
Try telling that to my group leader!
but the most exciting alternative would be if they could not find Higgs at all...
No Higgs, No SUSY, no SUGRA, no string theory. Euclid cannot deep sea navigate for its insufficient Fifth Postulate. Contemporary physics' abstract derivation from postulated maximal symmetries incorporates chirality as a correction. Close examination discloses its failure not as an invalid derivation but as a non-physical origination.
Overwhelming observation demands a massed sector chiral vacuum background. This is testable as a parity Eotvos experiment opposing macroscopically and chemically indistinguishable single crystal test masses in enantiomorphic space groups P3(1)21 and P3(2)21. The net output is either zero (as for every EP test since Galileo and Stevin in the late 1500s) or non-zero (and there's your problem). Somebody should look.
Do you suppose there may have been, at one time or another, a bo's'n on a boat somewhere, who went by the name of Higgs?!
Great coverage of the Higgs story at Not Even Wrong.
Science also advanced through the state in between "Wow!" , and "That didn't work, either." Specifically, someone peering at the new data, scratching her head, and saying in a puzzled voice: "That's interesting..."
@milkshake: indeed. A fundamental scalar is the simplest way to "break" electroweak symmetry (lately I've developed a distaste for the term broken symmetry, I think hidden symmetry describes the situation better) but it is not the only way. I'm not sure what would be the next step if the simplets GWS model is ruled out, probably a fermion condensate as an effective higgs, but I'm not sure if that gets you far outside of the bounds on the SM higgs mass. It would certainly have a lot of people scratching their heads for a while.
but I was just making a churlish joke...
At first, I thought your headline was pointing to an article in The Onion. ;-) "Higgs not found again." Almost like that hysterical article about all of the times Leon Lederman had missed discovering something that would have won the Nobel Prize decades before he finally did.
FYI, the first time the Higgs wasn't found was in 1974. Early speculation about the J/psi resonance was that the events might be the Z or the Higgs.
I should be clear that the speculation I mention was by a co-author of the SLAC discovery paper during a seminar given before the psi' was seen - making it obvious to everyone that it was a c-cbar state - not some blogger on Usenet in 1974.
The reason they haven't found the Higgs is they haven't looked inside Castle Heterodyne.
Although he isn't a bos'n, just a Machinist Mate Third Class...
Is there some expert reading this who can explain why, for the electroweak model, must the Fermion mass come from the Higgs? QED works with an intrinsic electron mass, but as I understand it, in the GWS model the electron must be massless until the symmetry is broken by the Higgs. But I don't understand why it has to be massless.
Daryl, a direct mass term coupling the left- and right-handed electrons is forbidden by gauge symmetries: both hypercharge and SU(2)_L ("weak isospin", if you like). On the other hand, the coupling of a Higgs boson, a left-handed electron, and a right-handed electron works out just fine.
At low energies, you can replace the Higgs in this interaction by its constant vacuum expectation value, and the only remnant of hypercharge and SU(2)_L is the U(1) subgroup of electromagnetism, so it reduces to what you know from QED.
There is one thing that everyone is forgetting. What if the Higgs Boson is non existent, an object with predicted existence but no concrete knowledge to justify searching for the unknown. To me, this is just like the belief system of religion. No proof but people still believe, and as we all know science and religion can not stand side by side. So why do people still search for the unknown when there is much more chance that the Higgs Boson doesn't exist than it actually existing. A complete waste of time, money and useful scientists!