So … They Probably Found The Higgs

Crossposted from the Scimatic blog.

One of the first blog posts I wrote for Scimatic, back 3 1/2 years ago, was about the LHC and the Higgs Boson. At the time, I had some doubts about whether or not it was a good idea to put all our physics eggs in one giant CERN basket, and I think those concerns are still justified.

However, I didn’t think at the time it would only take 3 and 1/2 years for the LHC experiments to announce that they’d found the Higgs.

It looks like that’s what they’ve done, though. There is a Higgs update seminar scheduled for tomorrow 9 AM Geneva time (July 4th? C’mon!) that you can watch here if you’re interested. Based on the rumours that CERN has invited Peter Higgs to attend, as well as other prominent theorists who worked out the Higgs mechanism, signs point to a positive result.

If they’ve found the Higgs, it’s a tremendous achievement for the two LHC experiments, especially to have done it so quickly. I was used to these types of results taking many years to analyse (hence my extra-long stay in grad school). The Higgs seems to me to be the “win-win” of the LHC – either you find it (Great! that’s why we built the LHC!) or you don’t (Great! that means there’s super-exciting “new physics” lurking just around the corner!), but to get to an answer this quickly is a real testament to the scientists at these experiments.

Man, I hope they announce a positive result, or this will all look sound a bit foolish.

As a post-script, there’s a discussion that the analyses are using a “blind” approach, where they “open the box” right at the end of the analysis. As far as I know, my thesis experiment was the first high-energy experiment to use this technique. Nice to see it propagated.