From CERN: The experiments have observed a “particle consistent with long-sought Higgs boson.”

From CERN: The experiments there have now observed a “particle consistent with long-sought Higgs boson.”

The press release also emphasizes repeatedly the preliminary nature of this result. More details in this article, including this not unexpected punchline if you know science:

Already, the new boson seems to be decaying slightly more often into pairs of gamma rays than was predicted by theories, says Bill Murray, a physicist on ATLAS, the other experiment involved in making the discovery.

More details unveiled describing the charges against the CERN scientist on trial in France.

More details revealed describing the charges against the CERN scientist on trial in France for consorting with al-Qaeda.

Adlene Hicheur is accused of compiling a “hit list” of targets that included French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his former interior minister, Brice Hortefeux. …

Officials said they intercepted e-mails he exchanged with al-Qaeda’s North African branch, in which he plotted to blow up a Total oil refinery and a French military base. In one e-mail to suspected Islamic terror chief Mustapha Debchi, Hicheur said he would “propose possible objectives in Europe and particularly in France”. He wrote in March 2009: “Concerning the matter of objectives, they differ depending on the different results sought after the hits. For example: if it’s about punishing the state because of its military activities in Muslim countries – Afghanistan – then it should be a purely military objective. For example: the airbase at Karan Jefrier near Annecy in France. This base trains troops and sends them to Afghanistan.”

So, if these emails are accurate, this guy did far more than simply correspond with terrorists. He plotted to aid them in terrorists attacks.

CERN announces an update on the search for the Higgs Boson

Not there yet: CERN announces an update on the search for the Higgs Boson.

The main conclusion is that the Standard Model Higgs boson, if it exists, is most likely to have a mass constrained to the range 116-130 GeV by the ATLAS experiment, and 115-127 GeV by CMS. Tantalising hints have been seen by both experiments in this mass region, but these are not yet strong enough to claim a discovery.

Higgs announcement from CERN on December 13

CERN will be making an announcement on the status of its search for the Higgs particle on December 13. From this interview of one of its scientists:

The thing I know for sure is that [CERN Director General] Rolf-Dieter Heuer, who must know the results of both experiments, says that on December 13 we will not have a discovery and we will not have an exclusion.

The inteview is fascinating, as he notes how the Higgs research might also have a bearing on the search for dark matter.

Rumors of Higgs

Rumors of Higgs.

According to comments left on a number of particle physics blogs, the word is that the LHC is closing in on the Higgs. The Higgs boson is theorized to be the “force carrier” of the Higgs field — a field thought to permeate the entire Universe, endowing matter with mass. Only by using powerful particle accelerators like the LHC do we stand a chance of seeing these mysterious particles. Apparently, both the ATLAS and CMS experiments are independently seeing a Higgs signal, and the predicted mass of the particle agrees with the experimental results. In particle physics-speak, the Higgs appears to have a mass of 125 GeV (giga­electronvolts).

The rumors are fun, but this quote from the chief at CERN puts some damper on them:

“These results will be based on the analysis of considerably more data than those presented at the Summer conferences, sufficient to make significant progress in the search for the Higgs boson, but not enough to make any conclusive statement on the existence or non-existence of the Higgs.”

I suspect in this case we will need to wait for an actual announcement.

The CERN experiment that appeared to see faster-than-light neutrinos has repeated its results, except that not everyone on the team agrees

The uncertainty of science: The CERN experiment that appeared to see faster-than-light neutrinos has repeated its results, except that not everyone on the team agrees.

The new tests, completed 6 November, did away with the statistical analysis by splitting each pulse into bunches just 1- to 2-nanoseconds long, allowing each neutrino detected at Gran Sasso to be tied to a particular bunch produced at CERN. These tests were carried out over 10 days and provided 20 events. The researchers confirmed that the neutrinos arrived 60 nanoseconds early, with an uncertainty of about 10 nanoseconds, comparable to that of the initial result. The collaboration has also checked its original statistical analysis, but today’s decision to submit the results to a journal was not unanimous. “About four people” among the group of around 15 who did not sign the preprint have signed the journal submission, according to a source within the collaboration, while “four new people” have decided not to sign. That leaves the number of dissenters at about 15, compared with about 180 who did sign the journal submission.

LHC’s first year’s hunt for the Higgs is ending

The first year’s hunt by the Large Hadron Collider for the Higgs particle is ending.

Vivek Sharma of the University of California, San Diego, who heads the search for the Higgs at [one experiment], points out that results . . . have already ruled out, with a confidence of 2 sigma, a Higgs mass of between about 145 and 400 gigaelectronvolts, and that the LHC’s predecessor, the Large Electron Positron collider, ruled out a Higgs mass below about 114 gigaelectronvolts. So the Higgs, if it exists, almost certainly lies in the gap between the two. According to Sharma, the extra data to be collected in 2012 once proton-proton collisions resume in March will allow the CERN scientists to “either find the Higgs in this mass range, or wipe it out”.

If the Higgs particle turns out not to exist, it will mean that physicists will have to go back to the drawing board to explain all the phenomenon seen in the subatomic world.

Scientist proposes that the superluminal neutrinos are merely measuring the true speed of light

On Thursday physicist Susan Gardner of the University of Kentucky proposed in a preprint on the Los Alamos astro-ph website that the neutrinos measured at CERN that appeared to be going faster than light were merely giving us a much more accurate measure of the speed of light.

This is only one of a plethora of papers published this last week on astro-ph discussing and attacking the CERN neutrino results. I expect the scientists will solve this mystery before too long.

Faster than light?

Can neutrinos travel faster than light? After three years of gathering data, an experiment at CERN says they do, though by only a tiny amount.

[Physicist Antonio] Ereditato says that he is confident enough in the new result to make it public. The researchers claim to have measured the 730-kilometre trip between CERN and its detector to within 20 centimetres. They can measure the time of the trip to within 10 nanoseconds, and they have seen the effect in more than 16,000 events measured over the past two years. Given all this, they believe the result has a significance of six-sigma — the physicists’ way of saying it is certainly correct.

You can download and read a preprint of their paper here.

What I find intriguing about this result, other than its exciting groundbreaking possibilities, is how it illustrates sharply the contrast between normal and healthy science, and the sad and sick state of the field of climate science.
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An international team of scientists said on Thursday they had recorded sub-atomic particles traveling faster than light

An international team of scientists said on Thursday they had recorded sub-atomic particles that travel faster than light.

A total of 15,000 beams of neutrinos — tiny particles that pervade the cosmos — were fired over a period of 3 years from CERN toward Gran Sasso 730 (500 miles) km away, where they were picked up by giant detectors. Light would have covered the distance in around 2.4 thousandths of a second, but the neutrinos took 60 nanoseconds — or 60 billionths of a second — less than light beams would have taken. “It is a tiny difference,” said Ereditato, who also works at Berne University in Switzerland, “but conceptually it is incredibly important. The finding is so startling that, for the moment, everybody should be very prudent.”

Al Gore and the silencing of debate

Yesterday I posted a link to a story about Al Gore claiming that any expression of skepticism about global warming is to him no different than racism. Here again is what Gore said,

“There came a time when friends or people you work with or people you were in clubs with — you’re much younger than me so you didn’t have to go through this personally — but there came a time when racist comments would come up in the course of the conversation and in years past they were just natural. Then there came a time when people would say, ‘Hey, man why do you talk that way, I mean that is wrong. I don’t go for that so don’t talk that way around me. I just don’t believe that.’ That happened in millions of conversations and slowly the conversation was won. We have to win the conversation on climate.”

More than at any other time, Gore here has very successfully illustrated the differences between how climate skeptics debate the scientific questions of climate change versus how global warming advocates do it.
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The sun, climate change, and censorship

The chief of CERN has prohibited its scientists from drawing any conclusions from a major experiment that appears to prove that solar activity and the resulting ebb and flow of cosmic rays has a direct effect on the climate.

Two points:

First, the results described provide strong evidence that the sun is a much more important component in climate change than any climate model has previously predicted. These results could help explain the Little Ice Age, which took place around 1700 at exactly the same time the sun became very quiet and stopped producing sunspots for decades. They could explain the Medieval Warm Period around 1000 AD, when cosmic ray activity declined (which also suggests the sun become more active) and the earth apparently warmed. And they might very well even explain the recent cooling during the past decade, which also took place during a period of solar inactivity and a comparable increase in cosmic ray activity.
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