Higgs Boson Discovery? NOT. Yet….But your search is over.

CMS data showing mass range excluded and possible for the Higgs boson, December 2011
CMS data showing detail of lower mass range excluded and possible for the Higgs boson, December 2011

By Rich Wargo
UCSD-TV science producer

Here it is, the latest interpretation of the largest dataset from the CMS that was officially released this morning.

After weeks of leaks, rumors and speculation it has been officially announced that the Higgs boson has been further cornered into a very narrow sliver of mass around 125GeV by independent results from both the CMS and ATLAS detectors. This is consistent with the Standard Model and previous postulates made before the acquisition of humanity’s most powerful particle accelerator.

Is this the first evidence of the Higgs boson? It could well be, perhaps. But it is still not yet a discovery.


What do these mean?

What do they show?

And how did thousands of scientists get to this point in the search for the Higgs boson?

In this UCTV video exclusive,  UC San Diego Physics Professor Vivek Sharma, director of Higgs research for the CMS detector, explains the massive efforts to discover the Higgs Boson using the LHC at CERN.

Since the search began in March 2010, I have been fortunate (very fortunate) to be able to conduct an unprecedented series of exclusive interviews with Vivek Sharma; UC San Diego Professor of Physics and director of Higgs research for the CMS, or Compact Muon Solenoid detector.

He is also one of two people responsible for combining all results from both the CMS and ATLAS detectors – both involving teams of University of California physicists.

In excerpts from some of these interviews Professor Sharma, ok, Vivek, shares his insights from his unique perspective as one of the key figures at the very heart of this gargantuan effort. He provides a detailed, comprehensive but clear and accessible layman’s guide to how this massive team of researchers conducted the science and produced these results, what they look for, what they see, how they (may have) cornered the Higgs, and why they do what they do.

You will be able to understand what this shows, and why it is no longer evidence for the Higgs boson.

Golden channel ZZ event
Not the Higgs. Why?

And you will be able to understand why this could be evidence for the Higgs boson.

Evidence of the Higgs boson?

You will also understand what the seemingly all-too-complex “Brazilian Flag” (above, apologies to Brazil) states so eloquently about hundreds of trillions of proton-proton collision events, putting them all in terms of the chances that what we are seeing might finally be evidence of the “God Particle”.

But more importantly, you will get a sense of why Vivek, and collectively, we, sift through this chatter and noise to find the signal of the Higgs boson, a signal that speaks to something that has always been, and will always remain, at the core of each of us.


One thought on “Higgs Boson Discovery? NOT. Yet….But your search is over.

  1. Hi Marc Sher (who I used to know at Santa Cruz many years ago),Though the basic thrust of your aremugnt is right (i.e. that scalar fields are problematic at high energies), it is not true that the quartic Higgs coupling becomes negative. I am pretty sure you are thinking about Landau’s pole. I hope Peter W. will indulge my discussing the technical issues, so to avoid causing too much trouble, I’ll be brief. He may permit my comment because they directly concern the Higgs mechanism.Landau’s formula for the effective coupling is only good for small couplings. It breaks down at high energies, where it predicts the sign change. The pole/sign change is fictitious. The real problem is that if the coupling at high energy (say with a Planck-scale cut-off) is not fine-tuned to some enormous value, the coupling at the TeV scale is nearly zero. This can checked by the renormalization group in 4-epsilon dimensions, by 1/n-expansions and by numerical simulations. It is also strongly indicated by some rigorous results about triviality, but these don’t quite work in four dimensions. There is no change in the sign of the coupling. Some field-theory books present the Landau pole as gospel, even though it is completely unphysical. The real problem is triviality/fine-tuning.

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