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The Longest Now

Hawking on the Higgs: It’s a pity in a way… I just lost $100.
Wednesday July 04th 2012, 2:11 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,Blogroll

Responding to the announced discovery of the Higgs particle, superhero physicist Stephen Hawking said in a BBC interview:

“The results at Fermilab in america, and CERN in switzerland,
strongly suggest we have found the Higgs particle,
the particle that gives mass to other particles.

If the decay and other interactions of this particle are as we expect,
it will be strong evidence for the so-called Standard Model of
particle physics, the theory that explains all our experiments so far.
This is an important result, and should earn Peter Higgs a Nobel Prize.

But it is a – a pity in a way, because the greatest advances in physics
have come from experiments that gave results we didn’t expect.
For this reason, I had a bet with Gordon Kane at Michigan University
that the Higgs particle wouldn’t be found.
it seems I have just lost $100.”

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Higgs boson confirmed! World’s media mass At CERN in celebration.

Today CERN and FERMILAB announced 5σ confirmation of the existence of the Higgs boson [1], inspiring a burst of heady live coverage from the Guardian. (CERN had leaked a video about the discovery the day before, so everyone knew what was coming, and turned up for today’s Higgs seminar. All of the scientists who had worked on early versions of the theory that pointed towards such a boson also flew in the the seminar, which continues tomorrow.)

CERN has posted and archived beautiful 360-degree photos of the day, a video of the press conference (rather dull), and will soon post a recording of the day’s seminar (which was live-streamed and amazing; come back for it tomorrow).

The media as usual tries valiantly to explain things in a down-to-earth way that is both simplistic and true, but is generally failing. As with a few other recent scientific breakthroughs, I am grateful that Wikipedia offers solid explanations of the topics at hand, and through the magic of hyperlinks (which news agencies are still struggling with 🙂 allows exploration of the topics in as much depth as you like.

Related reading: supersymmetry, scalar field theory, htlhcdtwy.

[1] Note the careful, conservative trend in particle physics: the labs making the discovery are all quick to say they’ve discovered the existence of at least one new particle, which matches the profile of the Higgs boson; it could be one or more of its sibling bosons that have been discovered – supersymmetry suggests there could be 5 of them.

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