Saturday, July 16, 2011

Next week, a big Higgs secret may be unmasked

On Thursday, July 21nd, the European Physical Society's (EPS) conference on high-energy physics (HEP), EPS-HEP2011, is getting started in Grenoble, Southeastern France.

Chances are higher than one year ago that we will be told something truly new, truly spectacular. Phil Gibbs has described his excited expectations, too. He even believes that the arXiv will be so overflooded by papers that physicists will start to send lots of papers to viXra, too. Well, I am not sure that it will be this big a game-changed but I do share his expectations that the conference will be a game-changer.

This is a serious conference and the folks at CERN will be eager to present their newest results from the LHC collider. Many of them should be based on 1 inverse femtobarn of data - a factor of 6 improvement over a small number of papers a month ago; a factor of 30 improvements over dozens of papers that built on the 2010 collisions only.

It's arguably more likely than not that during the conference, the main detectors at the LHC, namely ATLAS and CMS, will either announce strong evidence for the existence of some kind of a Higgs particle; or they will exclude the Higgs particle down to 135 GeV which would have far-reaching consequences, too.

A certainty that there is no Higgs heavier than 135 GeV would mean that the Standard Model almost certainly can't be correct because for such a light value of the Higgs mass, the vacuum becomes unstable according to this simplest consistent theory of the electroweak and strong interactions.

On the contrary, the existence of a Higgs particle whose mass is lighter than 135 GeV would be a rather strong argument in favor of the supersymmetry although other non-standard theories are in principle possible, too.

Preliminary hints suggest that the Higgs particles favor masses such as 115 GeV - the old legendary particle that LEP unluckily missed a decade ago - 140 GeV, and 205 GeV where some new bumps were recently observed.

One could even speculate that this innocent introduction to the concept of systematic uncertainties by Aidan Randle-Conde, a young American working for the LHC, is a masked rumor that those folks could be seeing a hint of a charged version of the Higgs particle which would also support the idea of supersymmetry. Recall that according to the standard terminology, even the minimal supersymmetric standard model requires five faces of the Higgs particle.

The existence of five God particles remains a speculation and the masses are nothing else than your humble correspondent's favorite values.

We shouldn't forget that it's still plausible that the situation of the Higgs sector will remain as ambiguous as it is today even after the conference. It wouldn't be the first time.

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