Monday, December 12, 2011

Higgs or no

The answer is going to be, to quote the Magic 8-Ball, "Ask again later." Sounds like the folks at CERN are on track to make a more definitive statement about the Higgs boson in about one more Friedman Unit. That won't stop an enormous surge of media attention tomorrow, as CERN tries very hard to have their cake and eat it, too ("We've found [evidence consistent with] the God Particle! At least, it's [evidence not inconsistent with] the God Particle!"). What this exercise will really demonstrate is that many news media figures are statistically illiterate.

I should point out that, with the rumors of a statistically not yet huge bump in the data near 125 GeV, there has suddenly been an uptick in predictions of Higgs bosons with just that mass. How convenient. 

Update - Interesting.  For the best write-up I've seen about this, check out Prof. Matt Strassler.  Seems like the central question is, are the two detectors both seeing something in the same place, or not?  That is, is 123-ish GeV the same as 126-ish GeV?  Tune in next year, same Stat-time, same Stat-channel!  (lame joke for fans of 1960s US TV....)

1 comment:

Zach said...

Wow, that was a lame pun even for you, Doug. Especially since it's not even clear that the two signals are, in fact, the same decay channel!