As many of you will have already noticed, today’s Science Times section of the New York Times newspaper is devoted to articles by Dennis Overbye on the search for the Higgs particle. At first read, the articles seem pretty good; several key players are interviewed (though inevitably, given page constraints, a number of important players in the experiments are not mentioned) and the science seems mostly accurate, with a few small errors, omissions, or misleading ways of saying things in the glossary and elsewhere. I’m busy preparing a new public talk for tomorrow, so I’ll have to reserve any detailed comments for later in the week.
But one thing you will notice, if you read the long article which describes the ins and outs of the search process, is that several of the responsible scientists quoted indicate, directly or indirectly, that the December 2011 data did not convince them that a Higgs particle had yet been found. That was the position I took on this blog, and I reported to you that most responsible scientists I had spoken to (which didn’t happen to include any of the ones quoted in the Science Times today) viewed the December data as inconclusive — meaning that it was still quite possible that the apparent signal of a Higgs particle might evaporate. Almost every other major particle physics blogger disagreed with me, both on my opinion and on my characterization of others’ opinions. But I stand by my statements: that though the data reported in July 2012 was essentially definitive, the data in December 2011 was, not only from my perspective but from that of many serious scientists, suggestive yet inconclusive. And you can now read that in the New York Times.