Homing in on Higgs: Michigan researchers predict summer discovery (w/ Video)

Jun 01, 2012 by Nicole Casal Moore

(Phys.org) -- Whether the Higgs boson exists could be settled by the end of summer, say University of Michigan physicists involved in the search for the missing piece of particle physics' Standard Model.

"We're zooming in," said Jianming Qian, physics professor in the College of Literature, Science & the Arts. "We are increasing the data set and improving our search algorithms. With certain luck, we may be able to discover it this summer, but it depends on nature."

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Qian is one of the 28 U-M researchers involved in experiments at CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland. He'll spend most of his time through August in Geneva, where more than 1,000 scientists from around the world have been looking for Higgs since the collider turned on about four years ago.

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The LHC is the largest and highest-energy particle accelerator ever built. In its 17-mile tunnel, researchers are smashing protons and other particles together to break them into their components. They're studying the wreckage with two camera-like particle detectors. Major components of one of them, ATLAS, were designed and built at U-M.

ATLAS records 300 events every second, Qian said.

"We're looking for interesting anomalies in a huge amount of data," he said.

The Higgs search in ATLAS is organized in five subgroups, and it is the job of U-M physics doctoral student Aaron Armbruster to combine the results from these groups. From this unique vantage point, Armbruster could be the first person to see Higgs' signal.

"First by a few minutes," he clarified.

Having been in love with physics since reading Stephen Hawking in high school, Armbruster counts himself lucky to be on this project right now.

"People have been looking for Higgs for the past 40 years," he said. "It's more or less by chance that in my two or three years as a graduate student, I'm working on it when we'll be able to say whether it's here or not. It's an exciting time."

This is physics' biggest thrill since the Standard Model fell into place in the 1970s, said U-M theoretical physicist Gordon Kane. Kane, who wrote the 1989 Higgs Hunter's Guide, has been charting the path to the elusive particle since 1976.

The Higgs, he explains, is a linchpin of the —the overarching physics theory that describes the laws of nature and the nature of matter. Its discovery would prove the theory's prediction of how certain elementary particles obtain mass.

"There are Higgs mechanisms, Higgs fields and Higgs bosons," Kane said. "The Higgs field is an audacious idea. It says that the universe doesn't have a state that has nothing in it. In its basic vacuum-like state, it's filled with a Higgs field. Interactions with that field are essential for quarks and other mediators of forces to get mass."

Quarks are particles that combine to make the protons and neutrons that, together with electrons, make atoms. Higgs bosons are Higgs field particles, similar to how photons are particles of electromagnetic radiation, or light, Kane said.

During the past six months, results from CERN as well as from Fermilab's Tevatron particle accelerator near Chicago have provided some evidence that Higgs is real. But these results weren't strong enough to claim a discovery. They weren't statistically significant to five standard deviations, Kane said. He predicts that the new experimental runs that started in April will provide enough data to achieve that level of certainty by the end of summer.

"I'll bet any amount there's a discovery," he said.

Knowing whether exists is important in a deep sense, Kane said.

"When we understand our world, we function better in it," he said. "One of the great historical analogies is that after Newton's laws, you knew that the sun would come up every day whether you contributed to the church or not. It was a law of nature that people couldn't tamper with. If we understand the universe better and better, our place in it will get more and more clear to us. And for me, there's a huge dignity that comes with being able to understand. I find that wonderful and exciting."

The LHC is an international effort including more than 8,000 scientists from at least 85 countries. The Michigan Group is believed to be the largest single institutional group in the LHC project. In addition to Qian, other U-M deeply involved in the ATLAS experiment are professors Homer Neal, Bing Zhou, Junjie Zhu, J. Chapman and Rudolf Thun. Five research scientists and four engineers are involved, as are six post-docs and seven graduate students. More than 50 U-M undergraduate students have been involved as well. Kane is the Victor Weisskopf Distinguished University Professor of Physics as well as a professor in the School of Art + Design.

Explore further: It's particle-hunting season! NYU scientists launch Higgs Hunters Project

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User comments : 24

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Royale
1 / 5 (3) Jun 01, 2012
I wish I was the particle that gave mass. You'd all have fat asses.
Origin
1.4 / 5 (11) Jun 01, 2012
The whole idea that something should give mass to the fundamental particles is a hype that resulted from over-commercialisation of the Higgs theory, which might backfire on physicists. Actually even most of physicists don't think, the LHC is detecting Higgs boson in the Standard Model sense (the meaning of which is doubted independently). The only fact by now is, something very fuzzy is observed.
Noumenon
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 01, 2012
The whole idea that something should give mass to the fundamental particles is a hype that resulted from over-commercialisation of the Higgs theory, which might backfire on physicists. Actually even most of physicists don't think, the http://resonaance...n.html). The only fact by now is, something very fuzzy is observed.

jsdarkdestruction
3.9 / 5 (7) Jun 02, 2012
The whole idea that something should give mass to the fundamental particles is a hype that resulted from over-commercialisation of the Higgs theory, which might backfire on physicists. Actually even most of physicists don't think, the http://resonaance...n.html). The only fact by now is, something very fuzzy is observed.

*sarcasm*-oh yeah, of course. That blog you linked to sure was unbiased and proved the majority of the physicists that actually know what they are talking about dont think it exists. sure.

Thanks for not spamming your awt theory 8 times this page though.
Deathclock
3.8 / 5 (10) Jun 02, 2012
Find it or not, science wins. That's the great thing about science, you make a hypothesis and put it to the test and whether or not it pans out you win, because at the very least you've ruled out a possibility.
Terriva
1 / 5 (8) Jun 02, 2012
Find it or not, science wins. That's the great thing about science..
Everything wins at the very end by trial and error approach. Construction of cars converges to the optimal value, when all possible designs were tested and found unsuccessful. Is it what the scientific approach means? Even Holy Church accepted the heliocentric model of solar system at the very end. Should we call it a victory of Holy Church? Should we call the victory of Science, if it will admit the Steady state Universe, cold fusion or dense aether model at the very end (while failing in all attempts to deny/ignore it during it)? What actually wins here is the truth only - not the community of scientists, which can be as biased, as the community of religious laymans. What we are paying the physicists for is more insightful approach, than just failure in denial of all opposite ideas.
Terriva
1 / 5 (5) Jun 02, 2012
In dense aether model the finding of "Higgs boson" signal is equivalent to finding of dark matter foam at the cosmic scale. It's power spectrum exhibits the maxims corresponding the dodecahedral symmetry of Lie E8 group and the first band of this spectrum corresponds just the finding of Higgs boson by now. We can expect the finding of another bands at higher energy density spectrum.
JIMBO
3.7 / 5 (3) Jun 03, 2012
Somehow, I don't think ANY `particle physics' professor in the dept. of Literature is going to be given much credence when it comes to Higgsy.
What a Joke.
jsdarkdestruction
4.6 / 5 (9) Jun 03, 2012
zephyr, seriously, stfu man. your refusal to accept reality is no reason to spam every article possible. THEIR IS NO CONSPIRACY TO SUPRESS STEADY STATE/AWT/COLD FUSION THEORIES! How hard is that to understand?
Terriva
1 / 5 (5) Jun 03, 2012
Can you understand, the things may be suppressed even without centralized action of few individuals, which could be called a conspiracy? For example, in this recent example of cold fusion suppression at MIT the very successful (COP > 14) demonstration of cold fusion prof. Hagelstein got censored with "well famous physicist".

I don't care, if you call this suppression a conspiracy or not, but it still apparently happens and it's well documented. Recently my posts about dense aether theory were banned with PO moderators. I don't call it a conspiracy, but it still happens regularly and you cannot deny the reality.
Terriva
1 / 5 (5) Jun 03, 2012
If we are living in the unmoral world, when famous physicists are banning the research of another physicists just because this research could be more useful for people, than their own research, then indeed famous memo of Robert Wilson, a former president of APS mafia gets its realization in full extent.

Frankly, I don't want to live in such a world and you, layman people shouldn't behave like coward sheeps. You should get informed about these cases and you should start to give it a public feedback too. It's about your future, not about the future of mine or few trolls at MIT or somewhere else. The absence of organized effective research in really perspective areas of physics is what keeps our society in oil wars and permanent financial crisis. It's your responsibility too, not mine only.
Terriva
1 / 5 (2) Jun 03, 2012
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (8) Jun 03, 2012
THEIR IS NO CONSPIRACY TO SUPRESS STEADY STATE/AWT/COLD FUSION THEORIES!

Don't bother. I think he gets payed on a per post basis by the scammers behind these pseudo-sciences. That's why he snaps up every crazy theory out there.
Zed123
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 03, 2012
Terriva, So you got banned for inappropriate behaviour and your response was to create new logins and continue the same inappropriate behaviour?

Fair enough. I'll just keep reporting any of your delusional off-topic posts.
infiniteMadness
4 / 5 (4) Jun 04, 2012
super symmetry, clarity on dimensions (m-theory) and quark substructures...Im so happy to live in exciting times and being able to follow such great discoveries being revealed soon!! :) Thanks people at CERN <3
Origin
1.7 / 5 (6) Jun 04, 2012
So you got banned for inappropriate behaviour and your response was to create new logins and continue the same inappropriate behaviour
As you can see, I wasn't banned, my post were just censored out. The people, who don't use any arguments have no rights to call these posts "inappropriate" and "pseudo-science". We aren't living in Cuba or China or North Korea, where alternative opinions are handled so.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (6) Jun 04, 2012
Nothing wrong with having a different opinion. But save them for threads where they apply (i.e. physorg articles that deal directly with aether theory, cold fusion, or whatnot-crazy-crockpot-theory). If you do that everyone will happily get off your back.

Until you do this you'll get reported for every off topic post.
Origin
1 / 5 (4) Jun 04, 2012
The mainstream physicists should be thankful for every alternative explanation of their formal abstract theories. Currently the dense aether theory is the only model, which provides the illustrative insights and analogies for layman regarding fundamental concepts of mainstream physics. So I don't see nothing wrong, when I submit the AWT based explanation of Higgs boson into thread dealing with Higgs boson.

The problem with contemporary physics is somewhere else: the mainstream physicists are behaving like the shamans or priests of medieval era and they're intentionally trying to keep the subject of their theories obscured as long as possible (medieval alchemists even used conspirational cypher codes for it) for to avoid public feedback. The absence of intuitive explanation maintains the importance of whole lobby of mathematicians and high school teachers, because the formal math remains the only way, how to understand the mainstream physics. I.e. it's employment problem too.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Jun 04, 2012
The mainstream physicists should be thankful for every alternative explanation of their formal abstract theories.

Guess what: if the theory is better (makes better predictions) then it IS mainstream physics.

which provides the illustrative insights and analogies for layman regarding fundamental concepts of mainstream physics

Which is exactyl the problem. analogies only work if they are taken from a more fundamental process to derive behaviour of a more complex one. But your theories try it the other way - which is why it doesn't work.

You can't explain (e.g.) electromagnetism in terms of waves and then explain waves in terms of electromagnetism (which you need to as electromagnetism is very fundamental to how matter behaves). That is circular - if it weren't fundamentally wrong to begin with.

WANTING a layman explanation to work is not enough to get it to work. Beauty of a theory is no indication - only results count. And aether theory has none.
Origin
Jun 04, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Origin
Jun 04, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Jun 04, 2012
In one sentence you say this:
The geometry of their density fluctuation is what defines both the space-time, both massive objects observed in it.

and then right in the next sentence you contradict it.
In dense aether model the density gradient at the water surface can be used for modelling of space-time in AWT.

Doesn't it ever dawn on you that you're just posting BS?
Origin
1 / 5 (3) Jun 04, 2012
The Higgs field is somewhat redundant concept even in context of Standard Model due the well known "hierarchy problem". It implies, that quantum corrections could make the mass of the Higgs particle arbitrarily large, since virtual particles with arbitrarily large energies are allowed in quantum mechanics. Higgs model has more then single formulations and its technical derivation consists in a mere reshuffling of degrees of freedom by transforming the Higgs Lagrangian in a gauge-invariant manner. From these reasons dozens of predictions of Higgs boson mass exist already - most of them are based on various extensions of Standard Model, because in Standard Model as such the mass of Higgs boson remains undefined.
Origin
1 / 5 (3) Jun 04, 2012
..right in the next sentence you contradict it...
This is just a tautology - as you didn't demonstrate, I'm contradicting myself in these two sentences. The quoting of two sentences doesn't demonstrate the presence logical fallacy, even if it's labelled so many times. You should demonstrate first, these two sentences may lead into two mutually contradicting conclusions.
Origin
1 / 5 (3) Jun 04, 2012
in Standard Model as such the mass of Higgs boson remains undefined
The analogous situation exists in AWT, because in the dense aether model everything is composed of nested density fluctuations. There is actually no aether in the classical sense: every particle in AWT exists as a density fluctuation of another particle field recursively. So what we can observe as a fundamental particle/scalar field in AWT is just the situation, when the particle fluctuations will become so fuzzy with increasing distance from human observer scale, that the underlying particle field will become unrecognisable for human observers. If we could shrink ourself to the Higgs boson scale, we could still see, these Higgs bosons are composed of another particles.

Physicists are aware of this phenomenological problem with interpretation of Higgs boson concept and the most insightful approach so far is the unparticle reformulation of Higgs boson field.
ngolo3
not rated yet Jun 04, 2012
Somehow, I don't think ANY `particle physics' professor in the dept. of Literature is going to be given much credence when it comes to Higgsy.
What a Joke.


The professors they quoted are professors of physics in the COLLEGE of Literature, SCIENCE and the Arts at the University of Michigan. Not just the department of literature. Reread and you'll see you sound kinda dumb.

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