About the NY Times article from 8/02/11

On Tuesday, the New York Times had an article on the Higgs particle search.  Not bad, and does quote relevant people, but just a little bit thin on content.  If you want some actual content, try my article on the hints of the Higgs particle. Also, the article falls into the common mistake of not … Read more

New Post on the Higgs Hints

Just finished my new article on the hints of a Higgs particle.  I hope you find it useful! I have tried to explain, in largely non-technical terms, how experimentalists at the Large Hadron Collider are looking for the Higgs, using various methods; what makes methods of this type easy or difficult, with analogies; that the … Read more

How to Find the Higgs Particle: 3rd Video Clip is Up!

Ok, the third video clip from my talk at the Secret Science club from March 2011 is now uploaded for your enjoyment.  [But watch the other two clips first, it will make it a lot easier to follow!]  Learn how to find the Higgs particle!  (Or at least the easier ways — an explanation of … Read more

Two interesting posts recommended

Nice post went up yesterday on the ATLAS experiment’s blog [ATLAS is one of the detectors at the Large Hadron Collider] from Kyle Cranmer (Professor at New York University) ; as I posted on this blog, Kyle gave Friday’s presentation summarizing ATLAS’s results on the search for the Higgs particle.   Kyle is a young star … Read more

Brief Q&A on Basic Whys/Hows of Particle Physics

On the plane back to the US, I put together a couple of answers to very basic questions about particle physics that I often get from friends and acquaintances who know little or nothing about the subject.  I hope you find them interesting! Note also: my previous post repeated a misquote of the CERN director … Read more

Update July 26th

Correction below — a couple of readers pointed out that I had read a misquote of what Rolf Heuer, director general of CERN, had actually said.  I’ve updated the post to reflect what he said and why he said it, though the main point of the post doesn’t change at all.

I’ve left the EuroPhysics conference … With 400 talks, and a hundred or so from the Tevatron and the Large Hadron Collider, it was information overload.

There are two more days of summary talks at the conference, and tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon there will be a bit more on the Higgs particle search.  A combination of the DZero and CDF Tevatron results will be presented, and perhaps a preliminary combination of the ATLAS and CMS results at LHC.  [I won’t be there, so don’t look for the update as it happens…]  The combinations can be done roughly in your head by looking at the various experiments separately, so there should be no surprises.

The one thing I want to remind you, in case the press makes a big deal out of what is said on Wednesday, is that what has been done so far to obtain a hint of a Higgs signal involves a very difficult measurement.   [Soon I’ll write an explanation of what I mean by this, but for now you can read more about this here. ]  The experimentalists are well aware of that, and say so both in public and in private.   I believe I saw the director general of the CERN laboratory quoted as saying this will all be cleared up by the end of the year.  UPDATE: This was indeed what I saw, but what I saw was itself a misquote; Heuer actually said “it” will be cleared up by the end of next year.   Either statement is true, depending on what “it” is.

  • If “it” means finding or excluding the Standard Model Higgs particle (remember that’s not the most general Higgs particle, see the Higgs FAQ) then that may not be fully settled until late next year — though in saying “end of next year” Heuer is being suitably conservative.
  • If “it” means figuring out if the current hint of a Higgs particle signal is a mirage or something real, that is probably something that will start to be settled between this December and next June.

Either way, [and here we return to the original post]  notice what this also implies: this [meaning the current hints] will not be cleared up much before the end of the year.  Science requires patient work, especially when the methods are challenging and fraught with subtleties.

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The First Version of the Higgs FAQ

Taking advantage of our day and a half off from physics talks in Grenoble, I’ve written the answers to some questions that are often asked (or should be asked) about the Higgs particle.  I had planned to do a very careful job of explaining what the Higgs particle is all about — and eventually I … Read more

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