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More Higgs? February 7, 2008

Posted by gordonwatts in physics, press.
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Nick asked a question on one of my posts:

Okay, humor me for a moment while I learn something: is this laughable because it suggests there are many “types” of higgs particles (which I’ve only ever seen reference to in this article) or just because the article suggests that the search is over and then quietly notes that we’re really still in the same place we were before the article was printed?

The latter. There have been discussions of the possibility of many Higgs for years — for longer than I’ve been in particle physics (>20 years – yikes! That is scary!).

How many Higgs particles depends on which world you live in. Lets say you live in the plain old Standard Model, and only the Standard Model. In that case, there is just one, the ONE Higgs. At the moment the Standard Model predicts pretty much every result we can measure. The Higgs particle was added to the original version of the Standard Model in order to get the W and Z boson masses correct — those are things we can measure today (unlike the Higgs, of course, which remains unseen).

Actually, that paragraph contains a lie — the Standard Model can’t explain everything — dark matter and dark energy, for example. There are other reasons why we think the Standard Model isn’t the whole story as well – so we have to fix it. So, on the one hand, we know it isn’t complete, but on the other hand we also know it can predict the results we measure at current experiments to amazing levels of accuracy. So, if we do fix it, we have to be careful of not breaking it in the process.

So we “extend” it. We develop new theories that “contain” the Standard Model. There are lots and lots of these theories. One of the more popular ones is called SUSY. Another is extra-dimensions. And there are more. Some of these models, like SUSY, actually contain 5 Higgs-like particles. The one that CP proposed in the paper referenced by this article also has 5 Higgs. In these extensions, btw, they must still get the W and Z masses correct – as the Standard Model does — and that is what Marcella (I think!) is complaining about: You might find another Higgs like particle, but the one in this model that does the work of the Higgs that gets the masses of the fermions and bosons like the W and Z right is still going to be just as hard to find.

On the other hand, finding a light Higgs as suggested would be a revelation. And grounds for a Nobel prize if the theory was born out. So the article that CP wrote is just fine. I was complaining about the way the press wrote it up.

Or should I remember that all press is good press? :-)

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Comments»

1. Nick - February 6, 2008

Thanks for the explanation!

2. augie physics - February 12, 2008

Can I point out a typo? W and Z are bosons, not fermions. I’m sure you know that, but just in case some readers don’t.

3. gordonwatts - February 12, 2008

Crap! Thanks, good catch. Edited the post.


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