Of Particular Significance

Welcome, 2013!

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

POSTED BY Matt Strassler

ON 01/07/2013

Welcome, 2013!  This is going to be a very exciting year for particle physicists.  Even though the Large Hadron Collider [LHC] won’t be smashing protons together and making Higgs-like particles this year, and will be off for repairs and upgrades after March,  the ATLAS and CMS and LHCb experiments at the LHC will be doing some deep digging through their data collected in 2012.  They will be looking for additional clues as to whether there is anything in that data which disagrees with the predictions of the Standard Model (the equations used to describe all of the known elementary particles, including the new Higgs-like particle [assuming it is an example of the simplest possible type of Higgs particle — which we are not sure of yet!])  Especially important will be studies of the new particle to see if it ever decays in “exotic” ways that are not expected in the Standard Model, or if it is produced in any unanticipated ways.  Also there will be searches to see if the new particle has any friends hiding in the data; for all we know, there are additional types of Higgs-like particles out there.

Of course it won’t all be about the LHC this year!  We will also be expecting new results from many other experiments within and around the edges of particle physics.  Dark matter may be an especially interesting topic in 2013.

I’ll be a little slow to review all of these til later in the month, because I am busy preparing for a trip this week to Edinburgh, Scotland.  At the end of the week there will be a three-day Higgs Symposium, in honor of Peter Higgs, and marking the opening of the Higgs Center for Theoretical Physics at the University of Edinburgh.    Posts and articles will therefore be a bit spotty for a few days, though of course I’ll be bringing reports from the Symposium when time permits.

In the meantime, if you haven’t looked at it already, you may enjoy my end-of-worldyear summary.  It has links to a number of my articles that cover issues which will play a big role in 2013.

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9 Responses

  1. As I recall, you had previously posts about how LHC experiments had parked large amounts of data for analysis during the long shutdown.

    Is this data going to improve the certainty of the Higgs-like particle measurements, or just more exotic searches?

  2. Good to see you back, Matt. Do you think you’ll be going over the recent achievement of attaining negative absolute zero temperatures? How about the Chinese measurement of the speed of gravity? I’d love to see your thoughts on both of these recent studies.

    1. I don’t know much about the negative temperature result; I don’t know any reason to get excited about it, because it’s not a theoretical surprise on the one hand (http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physics/ParticleAndNuclear/neg_temperature.html) and also because I don’t know that having it available it changes anything. If there are interesting applications, that would be nice to know.

      I have no reason to believe the Chinese group’s result; it’s a case where we already know the answer — the speed of gravity is the speed of light, and if it weren’t true to a good approximation it would screw up various tests of Einstein’s gravity, including the Hulse-Taylor pulsar. In such circumstances it is easy to convince yourself you see a signal when in fact you don’t. And the methods used don’t sound very reliable. Let’s see if anyone can duplicate the result before awarding these people the recognition that they seek.

  3. Does the teaser about dark matter refer to any specific experiment you know of? Or just a general sense that some progress is overdue and this might well be the year?

    1. In my mind there’s no such thing as “overdue” — nature doesn’t operate by a schedule. The particles are either there or they are not, and they are either discoverable using current methods or they are not, and they will show up when we become sensitive enough to measure them. There’s no rule that says they’ll ever be discovered at all. But just as there’s been gradual progress over the last few years, I expect we’ll see some interesting progress this year on multiple fronts. I’ll try to write an article about this sometime later; too busy right now.

  4. Matt, do you have any idea how successful “data parking” and other data collection techniques were successful in the end?

    The total data collected for 2012 was 21.5\fb, and so it would be nice to know how this has been effectively increased though yours and other people’s efforts.

    1. It’s too early to say… All of that data was collected in 2012, but most of it will be processed for the first time only in 2013 [indeed that was the whole trick to this strategy!] and studied in 2013 and 2014. So we have to wait and see. I have every reason to be optimistic, however.

      In any case, you can’t phrase the success in terms of an effective increase in *total* data. What increasing the trigger rate allows you to do is keep a certain *type* of data you would otherwise have discarded — it does not let you increase the amount of data that you were keeping anyway. So really the question is: if we look at the data set that would have been discarded, but instead was kept using parking, can measurements of high quality and interest be made using that data that could not have been made otherwise? The answer will surely be yes, so the issue is one of degree. Maybe in 2014 we’ll be able to analyze how much additional information we obtained from parking. For many studies it won’t matter, but in a few classes of studies, it should be a big effect.

  5. Having had some involvement in The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS-02) http://www.ams02.org/ I am also waiting so see if they have found anything of interest. Its been running quietly on the International Space Station now for more than 18 months accumulating over 27 billion particles measured.

    According to their twitter feed we should get to see some results this year. Prof. Ting announced that the first AMS02 publication will be the e+/e- ratio in the 0.5-100 GeV range with 1-2% accuracy.

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