Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Rumors about the God particle

Today, the Wired Magazine has joined the discussions about the rumors about the Higgs boson. The same text appears on ABCnews. Recall that the latest rumor talks about a 5-sigma signal around 180 GeV.



I feel that the Wired Magazine article is more reasonable than what we could have read on Slate.

The Slate article was written by an ex-student in a course of mine. No, with all my respect and compassion, I can't say that he was one of the better students and yes, I was always under immense pressure to give better grades than the students deserved. Correspondingly, the article is a typical emotional, Woitian politicization of topics that the writer doesn't understand in which the readers are frantically pushed in directions that have nothing to do with reality.




I believe that in the blogosphere and the media, the most legitimate sources of information about the Higgs signals are John Conway from the CDF collaboration and Gordon Watts who is an actual member of the D0 collaboration. Everyone who is interested in the state of the affairs should read the article below Gordon's name. You may also want to re-read John Conway's texts about the MSSM bumps at 160 GeV earlier observed by the CDF group.

Another person, Tommaso Dorigo, is not a member of the D0 collaboration where the potential signal occurred but he likes to paint himself as a very important person and he enjoys if his readers get excited about his mystifications, speculations, and propaganda. He's like a small Peter Woit which is no coincidence because he is a frequent visitor of the notorious crackpot's blog.

Clearly, very good D0 people are currently working on the hypothetical signal. It is virtually guaranteed that at the end of the Tevatron's life, many potential signals like this one are proposed and identified. If the data are processed in many different ways, it is not so shocking that one can discover some bumps that look like 3-sigma signals or 4-sigma signals and maybe even higher. In climate science, such bumps would surely be enough to propose worldwide policies. In science, however, they are not enough.

At this moment, it is not clear whether there is a scalar boson particle at 180 GeV. And if it is clear, it is only clear to a few real experts in the D0 collaboration who have just found the answer. Maybe. With a possible exception of John Conway and perhaps Gordon Watts who may also be informed, none of these people who actually know the final answer is active in the blogosphere. Everyone else who is spreading guaranteed rumors on the blogosphere - and the media - is creating pure noise. Garbage. Discard it. It's just like Peter Woit's writings.

Science doesn't work this way. It is absolutely irrelevant how many people can get excited about a blogger's posting and his one answer or another answer and how much excited they become as long as the bloggers themselves have no idea about the real answers whatsoever. You should never forget Feynman's story about the measurements of the emperor's nose and you should wait until the possible result appears on the official D0 results page.

And that's the memo.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh, you guys are so snarky with each other. Thanks for sharing your views and knowledge on your blog. It's really interesting for a student like me. And very entertaining.

    ReplyDelete