Friday, July 09, 2010

Rumor: 3-sigma light Higgs at D0 or CDF

Updates: The rumor was initially denied by the Fermilab's spokespeople and spokesgirls. More importantly, a detailed Fermilab D0+CDF pre-ICHEP talk on July 16th, 11 pm Prague Summer Time, showed that all their separate measurements are compatible with the absence of any new physics as well as Higgs.

However, Ben Kilminster July 26th talk in Paris (ICHEP 2010) revealed that the combined Tevatron datasets contain 5 tantalizing events with an apparent light, 113-115 GeV, Higgs boson. That would softly confirm the rumor including my detailed information about the mass...

Official status so far:
Tevatron HTTP 404 error: Higgs not found

... and 115 GeV is the most likely mass ...
See also: Striking new details about the rumor (bottom plus gluon produces bottom plus Higgs: evidence for supersymmetry with large tan(beta)!)

Fermilab's Wilson Hall rebuilt to celebrate the Higgs boson.

Your humble correspondent has claimed that the Higgs exists and is light - below 130 GeV or so - for years. Well, precision fits and SUSY, and all that. So the question about its discovery is not really "whether" but "when".
See also: What a light Higgs would mean for particle physics (click)
Tommaso Dorigo brings us a rumor that the answer could be "now" and that a Fermilab collaboration - either the D0 Higgs Group or the CDF Higgs Group - is going to publish a 3-sigma evidence (99.7% confidence level) for a light Higgs particle, getting one step closer to confirming what your humble correpondent has said about the next discoveries in particle physics:
Rumors about a light Higgs (Dorigo)

Alan Boyle, MSNBC, about the rumor, Phys Org

The Telegraph about the rumours

Pop Sci, Nude Socialist, Discovery News
One must be careful about rumors, especially if they come from as shaky places as Tommaso Dorigo's blog. But even though there's a 99.7% probability that Dorigo's rumors are wrong, you still have a reasonable chance that the Tevatron has actually seen it. :-)

I would actually not reproduce the rumor if I thought it was less likely than 50:50 - that's the reason why I avoided similar bogus rumors in 2007 etc. But 50% is my guess for this particular new rumor.

Moreover, I think that if the rumor is true, the Higgs was spotted right at those 115 GeV; see The 115 GeV Higgs Odyssey and What if the Higgs Boson Weighs 115 GeV? for two stories about the scenario.

In November 2009, there was a known 2-sigma excess over there. When combined with the 1.7-sigma signal from the LEP2 death bad, this gave you (via Pythagorean addition) a 2.6-sigma signal already half a year ago. That translates to the 99% confidence level.

Even this rough calculation - and a similar one for the 1.7-sigma LEP2 signal - is enough for me to argue that it was a mistake that the LEP2 collider wasn't given a year or two of extra life. Although 1.7 sigma is just 91%, it's just way too much above 50% to be neglected in policy decisions that wouldn't cost much.

Given the signal, the "probability of a discovery per invested dollar" would be much higher for this extra year or two. Too bad that the responsible people don't think about these economic matters quantitatively.

A joke as a bonus

A Higgs boson walks into a church. The priest says: "We don’t allow Bosons in church." Boson: "How can you have mass without me?

1 comment:

    -- James Ph. Kotsybar

    They granulate the universe to pulp
    crashing particles only newly found.
    They figure their trajectories and gulp,
    “So much data upon which to expound!”
    Their energies unbound by quantum course,
    they separate the world we think we know.
    They rip particles into force by force.
    Unification’s where they say they’ll go.
    When at last they prove life is illusion,
    where do you think they’ll publish the result?
    They may just ascend beyond confusion
    and leave us in the lurch of the occult,
    for once that testimony’s imparted,
    expostulation just seems false-hearted.