This is apparently a rumor, but one probably leaked by physicists involved in the project. As Wired Science reports, there are tantalizing hints that the elusive Higgs Boson has finally been found via the Large Hadron Collider at the Franco-Swiss border:
Ever since tantalizing hints of the Higgs turned up in December at the Large Hadron Collider, scientists there have been busily analyzing the results of their energetic particle collisions to further refine their search.
“The bottom line though is now clear: There’s something there which looks like a Higgs is supposed to look,” wrote mathematician Peter Woit on his blog, Not Even Wrong. According to Woit, there are rumors of new data that would be the most compelling evidence yet for the long-sought Higgs.
The possible news has a number of physics bloggers speculating that LHC scientists will announce the discovery of the Higgs during the International Conference on High Energy Physics, which takes place in Melbourne, Australia, July 4 to 11.
The new buzz is just the latest in the Higgs search drama. In December, rumors circulated regarding hints of the Higgs around 125 gigaelectronvolts (GeV), roughly 125 times the mass of a proton. While those rumors eventually turned out to be true, the hard data only amounted to what scientists call a 3-sigma signal, meaning that there is a 0.13 percent probability that the events happened by chance. This is the level at which particle physicists will only say they have “evidence” for a particle.
In the rigorous world of high-energy physics, researchers wait to see a 5-sigma signal, which has only a 0.000028 percent probability of happening by chance, before claiming a “discovery.”
The latest Higgs rumors suggest nearly-there 4-sigma signals are turning up at both of the two separate LHC experiments that are hunting for the particle. As physicist Philip Gibbs points out on his blog, Vixra log, if each experiment is seeing a 4-sigma signal, then this is almost definitely the long-sought particle. Combining the two 4-sigma results should be enough to clear that 5-sigma hurdle.
You might know that the Higgs boson is the final remaining particle predicted by the famous “standard model” of particle physics. It was predicted by six physicists, and the paper announcing its discovery (if it turns out to be real) will undoubtedly have elebenty gazillion authors. So who gets the Nobel Prize, which is limited to three people in any given year?
Regardless, if this turns out to be real it’s one of the greatest triumphs of that mass of gray jelly we call our mind. Out of the bowels of the earth and the vapors of the sky, we wrested materials to build a big honking machine so that we could find one of the smallest bits of matter (granted, it’s bigger than a proton). It cost over 4 billion dollars, but I think it’s well worth it.
If this turns out to be real, you read it here first. If not, excuse me. *Rushes to ask Sean Carroll*
UPDATE: Sean responded promptly to my query about whether he thought this was real. His response, quoted with permission, was noncommittal.
I think they might have, or maybe not, but in any event we should findout quite soon. Several thousand people have been busting their butts to make this happen for years now, and honestly I’d rather let them announce it in their own way rather than pass rumors around. But I certainly understand why people are excited — if they do have it, it’s big news.
But he did add that he is writing a book on the whole matter, The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World which will be out next January. He’ll have to do some rewriting, I suspect.