Something to cheer you up.

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The idea is that the Higgs field could someday twitch and drop to a lower energy state, like water freezing into ice, thereby obliterating the workings of reality as we know it. Naturally, we would have no warning. Just blink and it’s over.

via Finding the Higgs Leads to More Puzzles – NYTimes.com.

 

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Supersymmetry, however, has one rather serious problem

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Supersymmetry modifies the quantum vacuum and can explain naturally why the Higgs boson is light, provided that the mass of the superparticles is not too large, i.e. in reach of the LHC. Remarkably, such superparticles could also constitute the dark matter of the universe: many supersymmetric models predict the existence of a massive, electrically neutral and stable superparticle, which provides just the right amount of dark matter! Supersymmetry, however, has one rather serious problem: there is so far no experimental evidence for the existence of superparticles.

via Searching for supersymmetry: some frustration but no despair | Michael Krämer | Life & Physics | Science | guardian.co.uk.

 

It’s a… Baryon!

In a paper submitted to Physical Review Letters, the CMS collaboration described the first observation of an excited, neutral Xi_b baryon, a particle made up of three quarks, including one beauty quark.

via symmetry breaking » Blog Archive » CMS collaboration discovers its first new particle.

The major newswires and news outlets havent covered this discovery, perhaps because theyre trying to decide how to spell, typeset, and explain the particles name.

via Language Log » Neutral Xi_b^star, Xib^{0}, Ξb0, whatever.

‘Oh, my God, Magnum!’

In the end, it would not make sense if a theoretical concept put forward 40+ years ago showed up in Nature in precisely the predicted form, would it? Yet what ATLAS and CMS are seeing looks dangerously close to the Standard Model Higgs: the signal is showing up everywhere it should, and with roughly the size it should. Of course (now this is a serious of course) we’re in no position yet to make any quantitative statements about the properties of the Higgs. Indeed, measuring the couplings of the Higgs to matter will be the clue of the experimental particle physics program for the next 20 years. The more precisely we’ll measure these couplings, the bigger chance there is to catch a glimpse of new physics. Still, it is getting more likely than ever that the Standard Model is the correct description of physics at the TeV energies. This is dubbed the nightmare scenario; in the first place a nightmare for particle theorists who become expendable, but in a 30 years perspective also a nightmare for the entire particle physics program.

I’m no physicist, but there are two things about the search for the Higgs boson that I am compelled to mention. One is that Higgs always makes me think of the 1980s telvision program “Magnum P.I.,” and two is that while I understand that finally tracking the Higgs down is a valid, even spectacular, accomplishment, it does not really change anything, does it? Finding the Higgs is not as momentous as not finding it, it seems to me. What these intrepid folks have done is confirm what everyone was assuming, anyway.

It is a little like finding out the score of a ballgame after seeing the winning team’s fans set couches on fire in the street.