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CERN: 'Don't believe the Higgs-Boson hype' (update: not yet)

Daniel Cooper, @danielwcooper
December 13, 2011
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CERN is pouring cold water on the rumor it's gonna announce the discovery of the Higgs at today's seminar in Zurich. For the uninitiated: the Higgs-Boson is the particle that is believed to give all things mass: it surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together. The scuttlebutt is that the ATLAS sensor picked up a Higgs with a mass of 125GeV (gigaelectronvolts) and rated at three-point-five-sigma -- a one sigma barely warrants a mention, a five-sigma is a bona-fide scientific discovery. CERN hasn't confirmed or denied anything, claiming it's still got five inverse femtobarns worth of data (roughly 5 x 70 x 10^12 of individual collisions) to examine before it can be sure, so just chuck the one bottle of champagne into the refrigerator -- better to be safe, eh?

Update: Looks like we don't need to bust out the bubbly, after all. The conclusion from the two-hour presentation is that the ATLAS detector has been able to narrow down the region it believes the Higgs is in to 115.5GeV to 131GeV and that any discovery so-far only has a rating of two point three sigma. The CMS is similarly inconclusive, with results bobbing around the two sigma region. In short, whilst they know where they should look, they haven't been able to find one -- yet.



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