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    Thread: CERN set to report probable Higgs Boson sighting this week (Reuters)

    1. #1
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      CERN set to report probable Higgs Boson sighting this week (Reuters)

      Alright, let's try this again. Keep it civil, gentlemen.

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/...7BA0N520111211
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      Xei
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      "vital to support Einstein's ideas on the working of the universe"

      Ugh. Classic science reporting. Seriously, why do they even bother writing stuff like that. -_-

      Apparently they've found it with a certainty of 1/400. Now they are just refining it; there's a set certainty they have to reach to declare it.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Ugh. Classic science reporting. Seriously, why do they even bother writing stuff like that. -_-
      Sensationalism sells.

      Quote Originally Posted by Xei
      Apparently they've found it with a certainty of 1/400. Now they are just refining it; there's a set certainty they have to reach to declare it.
      Do you have any insight into what implications for science would come with finding the Higgs? I've heard some pretty vague things about how it would reshape physics, and possibly open up further understanding of things like dark matter - but how?
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      Xei
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      Quote Originally Posted by Oneironaut Zero View Post
      Sensationalism sells.
      True, but you expect there to be at least some basis in fact. It constantly bemuses me that people who have jobs as science journalists have somehow never picked up a book and learned basic science. Not even the nitty gritty, just some basic picture of what's been discovered and when.

      Do you have any insight into what implications for science would come with finding the Higgs? I've heard some pretty vague things about how it would reshape physics, and possibly open up further understanding of things like dark matter - but how?
      Not the faintest clue.

      Although I don't think it'd reshape physics as such, because theoretical physicists have used this as the standard model (that is, the Standard Model) for some time. They needed empirical justification though; it could have all been wrong.
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      Cool. Though I was secretly hoping they wouldn't find it, so all the current thinking would be wrong.

      Quote Originally Posted by Oneironaut Zero View Post
      Do you have any insight into what implications for science would come with finding the Higgs? I've heard some pretty vague things about how it would reshape physics, and possibly open up further understanding of things like dark matter - but how?
      Yeah, it would be cool to hear something about that. The most interesting things about threads like this are the implications people with more knowledge (and possibly brains) see from the discoveries.
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      This is actually very fascinating. It's nice to see all that theoretical physics work pay off, if it is actually true. I hope some more news will come up about the breaking of light speed though, in relation to neutrinoes.
      Last edited by Marvo; 12-12-2011 at 07:12 AM. Reason: In other news, nobody on this forum knows what this all means.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      Apparently they've found it with a certainty of 1/400. Now they are just refining it; there's a set certainty they have to reach to declare it.
      This can't be right...do you mean a p-value of 1/400?

      Quote Originally Posted by khh View Post
      Cool. Though I was secretly hoping they wouldn't find it, so all the current thinking would be wrong.
      Yeah, some CERN people have been quoted as basically saying that finding the Higgs in the expected mass range would be the worst outcome of the LHC. It would mean that the Standard Model as we know it was right all along, and the LHC was nothing but a 7 billion euro circle jerk.
      Last edited by cmind; 12-12-2011 at 04:52 AM.

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      Yeah I think that the Higgs would confirm that we're on the "right track" with the Standard Model of particle physics. We've been assuming it exists for years, and if it in fact didn't, we'd have to rewrite the book on particle physics.

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      Xei
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      Quote Originally Posted by cmind View Post
      This can't be right...do you mean a p-value of 1/400?
      I'm quoting from the Times. If it can't be this for whatever reason then they botched it, which is not unlikely.

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      Cool, but I don't know why they don't just wait until CERN reports it.
      It's like having a sign telling you there's a sign saying there's roadworks up ahead.
      Unnecessary and confusing. Plus the author probably misunderstood most of the discovery, since they obviously wouldn't have 99% of the details.
      So I'm not even going to bother to read anything about it yet.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      I'm quoting from the Times. If it can't be this for whatever reason then they botched it, which is not unlikely.
      Then it's probably p-value, which is the probability of the conclusion Higgs exists at that mass being a Type I error (a false positive). The same as saying there's a 99.75% chance that it is the Higgs.

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      Xei
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      When I say they found it with a certainty of 1/400 I'm obviously just being colloquial... there's a 1 in 400 chance that it's not the Higgs given their data.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Xei View Post
      When I say they found it with a certainty of 1/400 I'm obviously just being colloquial... there's a 1 in 400 chance that it's not the Higgs given their data.
      The curse of being pedantic with others is that others are pedantic with you, Xei.
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      Xei
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      That makes it okay then.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Oneironaut Zero View Post
      Do you have any insight into what implications for science would come with finding the Higgs? I've heard some pretty vague things about how it would reshape physics, and possibly open up further understanding of things like dark matter - but how?
      I'm definitely not a particle physicist but as far as I can tell this doesn't reshape anything. However it is a major plus for the standard model because it was predicted to exist a long time ago, and it hadn't been found until now (if this is in fact true).

      If they hadn't found it though then that would have caused a huge chunk of physics to need to be thrown out the window.

      Of course, who knows where the increased understanding will lead in the future?
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      Actually, let me rephrase. I believe "reshape" is the wrong word. What I meant to say is that it reshapes the course in which a physical studies and endeavors can take. It opens up new possibilities for science, in ways that were previously not feasible. I'm really asking if anyone knows what kind of implications it might have for the future of physics, standard or otherwise. Of course, the answer is likely 'no', but I was just curious.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Oneironaut Zero View Post
      Actually, let me rephrase. I believe "reshape" is the wrong word. What I meant to say is that it reshapes the course in which a physical studies and endeavors can take. It opens up new possibilities for science, in ways that were previously not feasible. I'm really asking if anyone knows what kind of implications it might have for the future of physics, standard or otherwise. Of course, the answer is likely 'no', but I was just curious.
      No, it doesn't really offer anything for physics. Like I said, finding the Higgs in the predicted mass range is the least useful thing that could have happened. It means that the Standard Model is essentially correct, and there's no real hope of "grand unification" until we get a particle accelerator the size of the solar system.
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      Quote Originally Posted by cmind View Post
      No, it doesn't really offer anything for physics. Like I said, finding the Higgs in the predicted mass range is the least useful thing that could have happened. It means that the Standard Model is essentially correct, and there's no real hope of "grand unification" until we get a particle accelerator the size of the solar system.
      Ah, ok. I just now saw your previous post. Lol.
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      So.... least exciting piece of Science news ever?


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      Xei
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      In a sense it would probably have been better news if it weren't true, because the hope is that discoveries at CERN will trigger a change in our understanding that eventually makes some sense of the big cosmological puzzles... but there was some news a while back where they had findings that don't seem to fit in with current models of antimatter.

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      ^ could you link me to something about that by any chance?

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      Yeah, there's still a lot to find out with the LHC besides this.

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      Xei
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      Quote Originally Posted by Wayfaerer View Post
      ^ could you link me to something about that by any chance?
      BBC News - LHC reveals hints of 'new physics' in particle decays

      Bare bones.
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      At the risk of further increasing the pedantry level, I have some comments on the "certainty" issue.

      I was confused by the 1/400 figure (what the hell does it mean to be "1/400 certain"?) so I poked around a bit to see where that figure comes from. Apparently theory holds that the presence of a Higgs should manifest itself as an excess of energy in the "gamma-gamma channel" (whatever that is), and the event that is causing all this fuss was the observation of an excess of energy in the expected channel of about 3 or 3.5 standard errors above what is normally expected in that channel. In other words, if you think about the range of energy levels that one would expect to observe in that channel--when nothing is actually going on!--as a normal distribution or "bell-shaped curve" of energy levels, then this excess was about 3 standard deviations (or sigma, which the authors of the article in the OP amusing spell "sygma") above the mean of that sampling distribution, which is starting to get pretty far out into the positive tail. The area under the curve (or probability density) of an event greater than 3 sigma or less than 3 sigma is about .00269, or about 1/369. As far as I can tell, this is where the 1/400 figure comes from.

      Let's be careful about how we interpret this 1/369 figure. Assuming that what I wrote above is indeed where the figure comes from, then this figure is basically a "p-value," as cmind noted. That is, it is the probability of the observed data, conditional on the hypothesis being false. In other words, if it is in fact the case that there was no Higgs at all, then the odds of seeing an excess of energy of the magnitude that we did are about 369 to 1 against. What is very important to realize is what this figure is not. It is not--and this is important--the probability of the hypothesis being true (or false), conditional on the observed data (that is, the probability that we actually observed a Higgs). We would call such a probability a posterior probability. Arguably this probability is what we really want to know most. Unfortunately, in general P(D|H) does not equal P(H|D). Arriving at this latter probability requires additional information, namely, a distribution of prior probabilities. Although closer, it is also not a type 1 error rate (that is, the probability that we have incorrectly concluded that we observed a Higgs). Such a probability is called an alpha level, and is in fact specified a priori by the data analyst--we know that the probability of a type 1 error will be equal to the chosen alpha level before we ever collect any data.

      None of this is to denigrate the present findings. But let's be clear about what exactly is meant when we talk about things like 1/400 certainty.
      Last edited by DuB; 12-13-2011 at 05:40 AM.
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      Oh BBC:

      BBC News - LHC: Higgs boson 'may have been glimpsed'

      Quote Originally Posted by Ignorant BBC Science Editors
      Finding the Higgs would be one of the biggest scientific advances of the last 60 years.
      Fail. No wonder the general public is so ignorant about science when you have this kind of shitty reporting.
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