Enough Already! June 5, 2007Posted by gordonwatts in blog, physics.
Just stop! The latest batch of rumors of a bump in a D0 analysis has gotten way out of hand. My original plan was not to say anything: I can’t participate in rumor mongering here: I’m a member of D0. So I have little to gain, and a lot to lose!
On a totally different matter, Godon: please leak something about the new evidence for weird bbbar production found by D0. Is it true it is a 5-sigma effect ? Is it at 180 GeV ? How about its width ?
Let us know!
I will now tell all. It is definitely true that there are people in D0 working on such an analysis. The people working on the analysis are some of D0’s best. And the review board for this analysis (a hot analysis long before any of these rumors started) has a number of very good people. The point is: D0 isn’t going to release anything officially until they are sure it is right. It is the same with every analysis we release. So, till then — rumor away (I’m keeping score) — but they are rumors.
So, when that analysis makes it out this blog will not be the place to see it first. I am not directly involved in it — or even in reviewing it (except as a collaboration member). The official D0 results page will have all the info you need. I’ll certainly put a pointer to it since there seems to be so much interest in it. When will it come out? Some of the speculation on release doesn’t seem unreasonable, but remember that the criteria here isn’t a conference deadline, but, rather, getting it right. I’ve seen a number of analyzers work very hard to make a conference deadline only to have their review board force them to spend an extra several weeks doing cross checks (and those analyses had no rumors associated with them).
Just remember, ladies and germs: Rumors are rumors, science is science.
So, two things set me off to writing this post. First, Tommaso did it in a minor way:
Will science magazines be willing to wait ? Hmmm. I bet there already are a few investigations ongoing (but I swear I personally have not been contacted by the press yet).
Dude! If you get called by the press to comment on this rumor — you will be making second hand comments on rumors! You have almost no position of authority to talk about this (at least last time you were a member of the collaboration releasing the result — and more importantly, it was public already). A minor misquote by a reporter and you’ll have all of DZERO yelling at the CDF spokes people about your behavior. The previous New Scientist article has already gotten quite a few people upset! Tread carefully here (just some friendly advice, eh…?).
But the thing that really got me angry was the Slate article.
The current rumor, which comes in time for the summer conference circuit, may be different. It claims an experiment at the Tevatron has found a peak twice as high as the previous rumors’ bumps. And unlike the other rumors, this one includes details: the new particle’s mass, for instance, which fits within theoretical bounds on the standard model Higgs. Some versions include a decay chain, which describes what the new particle turned into as the experiment progressed, and which may be consistent with the standard model’s predictions.
Wow. I’m a member of D0, I’ve read the note, and I still learned some new things from this article! But then it goes on to say:
So, if the rumor is true and the standard model Higgs has been found at the Tevatron, the LHC is in big trouble: Immediately, its “guaranteed” success—the final particle of the standard model, not to mention a couple of Nobel Prizes for European scientists—is gone.
The irony is that things look just as bleak for the LHC if the rumor is false, and the Europeans end up finding the standard model Higgs themselves.
WTF!???!? There are so many busted things about this. First off, simple discovery of a SM Higgs is not, at least to me, an obvious Nobel. Definitely worth something like that for effort! Isn’t a Nobel prize supposed to be for something that really changes people’s understanding of the world? A standard model Higgs won’t do that — it will confirm it. Perhaps a shared Nobel with Higgs himself? I suppose. Now, a non standard model Higgs. That is definitely worth a Nobel. No question there in my mind. So they give Nobel’s for guaranteed successes? ;-)
His second paragraph, of course, contradicts everything he says in his first paragraph — if the LHC did find the Higgs and get a bunch of Nobel prizes then hey — that would be pretty bleak. Riiight.
The point he is making, I think, is that he doesn’t think there is much chance of the LHC seeing anything beyond the Higgs:
Physicists have developed such a complete description of elementary particles that, once the final piece of the theory is in place, the chances that the LHC will find anything the standard model doesn’t predict are almost negligible.
In short. The LHC just isn’t worth it once the SM Higgs is found. Just shut it down! Spend the money on something else.
He is right in the sense that it is certainly possible we will see a Standard Model Higgs at the LHC and nothing more. From the point of view of moral and the future of particle accelerator based physics that will be awful. From the point of science it will be very interesting. The reason? Because what we know about the Standard Model suggests that something must be happening around the 1 TeV scale. If there is nothing — then there must be a mechanism to “fix” the Standard Model.
What does that mean? Well, if nature does the simplest thing then we would expect the LHC to see something beyond the Standard Model.
Finally, even if the Tevatron does find a Higgs there is no way we will make enough of them to know if it is a SM Higgs or something more interesting. No matter how you look at it, the LHC will be scientifically interesting.
Turns out the Slate author has a web site of his own, and a blog entry where he has a few more details about the rumors. I’m not familiar with him, sounds like he is an ex theorist from Harvard from the blog entry.