Of Particular Significance

Hey Where’d My Higgs Go?

So, remember last month’s scandalous rumor about the Higgs particle being found unexpectedly? (A document claiming this, written by a small team inside of the ATLAS experiment, was leaked by someone to a blog…) Well, the full ATLAS experiment has now spoken — this is an official result, from the whole team, not a rumor from a few.

And (as I expected) there is not even a hint of a Higgs yet. With more data, the “bump” in the data disappeared. This is par for the course in exploratory science, folks. Patience is necessary; discoveries take time.

More details: the claim was a discovery of a Higgs particle decaying to two particles of light (photons) 30 times more often than expected. But other experiments at the Tevatron collider near Chicago have already looked for this, and they say they should have seen it already. So this made the discovery claim very implausible. And the basis for the claim was a small bump in a plot… believe me, more impressive bumps have come and gone before. All in all, few people are surprised.

May 11, 2011

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A decay of a Higgs boson, as reconstructed by the CMS experiment at the LHC