CERN teams post Higgs Boson papers - one ups its sigma level of certainty

Aug 02, 2012 by Bob Yirka report
ATLAS
This artist's graphic shows the underground ATLAS detector along the 17-mile subsurface tunnel, the Large Hadron Collider at the Swiss-Franco border. Protons will smash into each other with unprecedented impact speeds.

(Phys.org) -- The two teams working (and causing headlines around the world) at the CERN Large Hadron Collider CMS and ATLAS, have both uploaded papers describing their work in searching for evidence of the particle that is believed to explain why matter sticks together, the elusive Higgs Boson, to the preprint server arXiv. In their paper, ATLAS has bumped up its sigma level of certainty from 5.0 to 5.9 while CMS has kept its level at the 4.9 to 5 range.

The sigma levels are indicators use to gauge how sure they are of their results. 5.0, for example indicates the researchers believe there is a five in ten million chance that the signals they’ve seen are due to something other than what they believe it to be; in this case, evidence of a . 5.9 would bump up the likelihood to two in a billion.

It’s important to note that both teams are still calling what they’ve found to be something “Higgs like” rather than boasting of the discovery of the actual boson. This is because neither team has actually seen the boson, instead, they rely on measurements of that are thought to come into existence as a Higgs decays; according to theory, it’s only supposed to last for the tiniest fraction of a second, too little time to actually see or record it. It’s also important to note that the sigma numbers aren’t measurements of how certain the researchers are that what they’ve found is the Higgs, instead they are numbers that represent how certain the teams are of what they’ve measured. This means it’s possible that all their measurements and numbers are right, but whatever caused them to come about isn’t an actual Higgs, but something else that is both close to a Higgs and un-described in the Standard Model. There is no statistical number to demonstrate how sure they are of that.

What this all means is that both teams, and most physicists who study such things, are pretty sure that the work at has proven that the Higgs does indeed exist and that further study will one day allow for the removal of the Higgs-like tag. On the other hand, if it turns out that what the teams have been measuring is due to something else, well, that will mean having to edit the Standard Model, which is a description physicists have come up with to describe all of the ingredients at their most basic level, that make up everything that exists.

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More information:
ATLAS preprint: arxiv.org/abs/1207.7214
CMS preprint: arxiv.org/abs/1207.7235

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User comments : 17

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antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (14) Aug 02, 2012
Good. Not once did the article refer to "god patricle" and it explains what the sigmas mean and what the Higgs-like discovery means.
CapitalismPrevails
1.4 / 5 (18) Aug 02, 2012
Higgs Bozon = GOD PARTICLE. Now everybody flip out and vote me down.
Eoprime
1 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2012
Higgs Bozon = GOD PARTICLE. Now everybody flip out and vote me down.


Hmm I only know of Philippe/Tim and Charles Bozon.
Deathclock
4.4 / 5 (7) Aug 02, 2012
Higgs Bozon = GOD PARTICLE. Now everybody flip out and vote me down.


There is a picture floating around with screenshots of tweets and facebook posts with creationists saying things like "God particle found, suck on that Atheists!"... there are like dozens of examples of the same sentiment in the picture, it made my day when I saw it!
El_Nose
4 / 5 (3) Aug 02, 2012
give me a break -- it doesn't explain sigma

basically if the distribution of data is normal then 68% will be within one standard deviation. or 1 sigma

a standard deviation (SD) is a measure of how much data points vary from each other. low SD is very tight data - normal SD produces a bell curve of data points when plotted as a histogram

its a way of eliminating error -- it is not 100% perfect but with a really big data set you can make intelligent assumptions

1 sigma is 1 standard deviation it contains roughly 68.26% of all outcomes in a standard bell curve.

2 sigma is an additional 13.6 % added to each side -- accounting for 95.449% of all outcomes

3 sigma is an additional 2.1% added to each side -- accounting for 99.73% of all outcomes

4 sigma is 99.99366 -- had to look these up

5 sigma is 99.9999426

6 sigma is 99.999999802 -- deemed good enough for science -- note 6 nines past decimal as a way to remember it

7 sigma is 99.999999999744

by the way 50% is like .67 sigma
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (5) Aug 02, 2012
give me a break -- it doesn't explain sigma

It explains what it MEANS (and most importantly - that sigma values aren't linear as to how sure one can be.)
Tell someone you're 5 sigma sure and they will most likely stare at you blankly. Tell them you're sure with a probability of 1 in 2 million to have a fluke result and they'll understand.
Not everyone knows what first and second order errors are or is well versed in statistics
(Most SCIENTISTS have a hard time with statistics. The number of papers where wrong measures/tests are used is astonishing)
Pkunk_
4.3 / 5 (6) Aug 02, 2012
Good. Not once did the article refer to "god patricle" and it explains what the sigmas mean and what the Higgs-like discovery means.

The most accurate description is the "goddamn particle".
That it what it was intended to be called all along before Leon Lederman's publisher thought they could sell more copies by removing the "damn" from the book title.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (1) Aug 02, 2012
Good to get an update, good description or sigma, but a technical problem in the article:

- "This is because neither team has actually seen the boson, instead, they rely on measurements of particles that are thought to come into existence as a Higgs decays".

No, "Higgs like" is because the decays and their rates are sufficiently close to what is predicted for a standard Higgs of a certain energy. The rates are still of too low statistical significance to judge, and the energy can still move a bit.

No one will ever see an Higgs directly any more than we will see an atom as it is.
vacuum-mechanics
1 / 5 (4) Aug 02, 2012
Its important to note that both teams are still calling what theyve found to be something Higgs like, instead, they rely on measurements of particles that are thought to come into existence as a Higgs decays; according to theory, its only supposed to last for the tiniest fraction of a second, too little time to actually see or record it.


By the way, it is interesting to note that why particles (including Higgs) which were created from the collision are all unstable. While most of particles forming to be our human being (and everything around us) all are stable particles!

The reason may be what which conventionally interpreted as unstable particles; actually they are disturbed parts of vacuum medium during the collision, and this is a more rational understandable explanation below.

http://www.vacuum...mid=9=en
vlaaing peerd
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 03, 2012
So... almost 6sigma of what?
- a very real higgs boson
- something "higgs like"
- some other boson
- some other godlike particle with properties of biblical proportions
- satanparticle?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Aug 03, 2012
No one will ever see an Higgs directly any more than we will see an atom as it is.

Only because there is nothing to see (at least not in the way we model it for our limited imagination with a Bohr-like appearance)
But we have visualized atoms, so I could imagine that we might be able to visualize a Higgs some day.
Maybe using a 'mass microscope' which shoots subatomic particles (instead of photons/electrons of today's microscopes) at a Higgs during the infinitesimal small amount of time it exists and see how they interact.

But for that to work we need a source that can create a stream of well defined quarks (by type, direction, and production rate) and a mechanism for producing a Higgs boson at will (or at least much more frequently than now).
thingumbobesquire
1 / 5 (3) Aug 03, 2012
I have an infinite(Aleph)sigma level of certainty that those who believe in statistics are worshipers of an irrational fate! The physicists of the fundament have just uncorked a new particle! In honor of their nerdism they have named it the Klingon. Will wonders never cease?
El_Nose
not rated yet Aug 03, 2012
@vlaaing peerd

So... almost 6sigma of what?


Great question: 6 sigma of a new particle.

Outside of that - the mass of this particle is within the bounds of mass expected for the Higgs.

To test for it being the Higgs -- the most telling sign will be if it has a Zero spin.

That is why everyone keep saying Higg's like -- the Higg's is the only particle expected to be in this mass range -- if this particle ends up having spin - we will have found a new unexpected particle -- and if it is new then yes, Biblical proportions if you are a physicist.
daywalk3r
1 / 5 (7) Aug 03, 2012
the particle that is believed to explain why matter sticks together
WRONG. Higgs has no business with gravity..

/facepalm

Its also important to note that the sigma numbers arent measurements of how certain the researchers are that what theyve found is the Higgs, instead they are numbers that represent how certain the teams are of what theyve measured. This means its possible that all their measurements and numbers are right, but whatever caused them to come about isnt an actual Higgs
CORRECT!

Finally some article where it is actually mentioned..

But just a few lines bellow, the author felt like adding this precious gem:
What this all means is that both teams, and most physicists who study such things, are pretty sure that the work at CERN has proven that THE HIGGS BOSON does indeed EXIST
/doublefacepalm

Sorry, but there is no smiley sad enough to depict how "hilarious" this article is with some of its facts and conclusions..

So I just go with this one:

:-(
Midcliff
1 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2012
Will we ever "see" a Higgs boson? Perhaps a long lomg time from now. It's very much like trying to "see" an electron (which we can't do yet either). The existence of a Higgs boson means the higgs field exist (which would necessarily permeate the entire universe). A Higgs boson is produced by matter moving through the Higgs field much like the way an electron is produced when an iron atom moves through a magnetic field. Right now we can only detect them, but the Higgs being at 130 MeV is similar in size to a meson (bigger than an electron but smaller than a neutron).
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (3) Aug 06, 2012
It's very much like trying to "see" an electron (which we can't do yet either).


You mean like this?
http://www.opedne...for_.htm

daywalk3r
1 / 5 (6) Aug 06, 2012
but the Higgs being at 130 MeV is similar in size to a meson

Last time I checked, the 5 sigma resonance was still around the 126 GeV mark.

And you can't really compare those sizes like that. The size of a proton is commonly defined by its effective charge radius, and the proposed HB is a resonance (charge-less, spin-less), which constantly undergoes transformation, so the closest you could get in obtaining some "size" parameter, is by calculating its compton wavelength based on the estimated rest mass.

Which puts the "size" of the proposed ~126GeV HB roughly in the 1/100th of the effective charge radius of a proton ballpark (if I did not mess up the calculation too mycg, that is).

The main problem of not being able to "see" it, is not with its size, but rather with its ultra short decay times, as it decomposes into other particles within zeptoseconds..

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