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Final Analysis Suggests Tevatron Saw Hint of the Higgs Boson 184

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the america-hates-science dept.
ananyo writes with exciting news from the world of particle physics: "A hint of the Higgs boson, the missing piece in the standard model of particle physics, has been found in data collected by the Tevatron, the now-shuttered U.S. particle collider at Fermilab in Batavia, Illinois. While not statistically significant enough in themselves to count as a 'discovery', the indications announced on 7 March at the Moriond conference in La Thuile, Italy, are consistent with 2011 reports of a possible standard model Higgs particle with a mass of around 125 GeV from experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland. The data is more direct evidence of the Higgs than the constraints on its mass offered by the precise W boson mass measurement reported on Monday. On a sad note, the find vindicates Tevatron scientists who campaigned unsuccessfully to extend the collider's run. The request was turned down by the Department of Energy but this last hurrah suggests that Tevatron might indeed have found the Higgs ahead of CERN's Large Hadron Collider if they'd secured the funding required. The Tevatron is currently being raided for parts."
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Final Analysis Suggests Tevatron Saw Hint of the Higgs Boson

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @10:44AM (#39274677)

    It's my favorite ride at the fair!

  • shutting things down right when they can make the most difference.

    it sucks, but when you don't have the money to maintain them,,,,.
    at least the shuttles are going to museums.

    • Really? Is finding proof of the Higgs Boson really the "most difference" that the Tevatron will have made during its long life?

    • by chispito (1870390)

      at least the shuttles are going to museums.

      The Shuttles made the Hubble Space Telescope possible. That was, far and away, the most difference they could have made, and they did it in the 90s. We need something cheaper and more reliable now.

      • by bware (148533)

        The Shuttles made the Hubble Space Telescope possible.

        No, they didn't.

        • Well in a way they did. Remember that when the HST first went up, it's mirror was defective, it might as well have been blind. It wasn't until a shuttle mission went up to it that they could repair it and make it operational. If not for the shuttles, it would have been a multimillion dollar piece of space junk.
          • by chispito (1870390)
            This was my point. It would have been prohibitively difficult to repair and then routinely service the HST using any other launch system.
            • by blackicye (760472)

              This was my point. It would have been prohibitively difficult to repair and then routinely service the HST using any other launch system.

              Considering the cost per launch for the entire duration of the shuttle program, it's likely that it was one of the most prohibitively expensive delivery systems they could have possibly employed.

        • by tqk (413719)

          The Shuttles made the Hubble Space Telescope possible.

          No, they didn't.

          Yes, they did. Without them, there'd have been no way to fix its astigmatism. It was sent up flawed.

    • by wvmarle (1070040)

      At the time it was shut down, it was far from sure that the higgs could be found with that accellerator to begin with.

      In the meantime a much better tool became available, one could argue making the Tevatron obsolete - at least for that part of particle research. I'm European and I don't really care whether the current largerst collider is in US or EU. Nice to have it on our side of the ocean but that's it. And it's not as if US scientists are kept out or so, right?

  • Thank you... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wcrowe (94389) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @10:51AM (#39274743)

    ...for not calling it the "God particle".

  • by pcolaman (1208838) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @10:53AM (#39274755)

    Tevatron is on the loose, let's call in Optimus Prime!

  • by 3seas (184403) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @10:58AM (#39274791) Journal

    http://www.physicscentral.com/buzz/blog/index.cfm?postid=2156439899482364662 [physicscentral.com]

    And the better answer is:
    The sum total of what it cost to find one.

  • 50 years ago... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drachenfyre (550754) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:03AM (#39274851) Homepage

    50 years ago the U.S. could put a man into space. Today it can't.
    50 years ago the U.S. was at the forefront of particle physics. Today it isn't.
    50 years ago the U.S. started development of 3 different spacecraft on 5 different man rated rockets over a 7 year span. Today it's 10 years just to develop one.
    50 years ago the U.S. had a plane capable of traveling at Mach 3.35. Today it doesn't.

    I seriously feel bad for the future country my kids will inherit. It doesn't seem like we're moving in the right direction on the science and technology front.

    • Re:50 years ago... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by daem0n1x (748565) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:21AM (#39274997)
      But think positive. You have plenty of lawyers, bankers and preachers!
    • Re:50 years ago... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by King_TJ (85913) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:21AM (#39274999) Journal

      Well, 50 years ago, the U.S. could manufacture most of its own consumer electronics.
      50 years ago, the Federal Reserve hadn't ordered the printing of anywhere near the amount of money they have today, either.

      The reality is, yes, the United States is in a state of decline, after arguably having "peaked" somewhere in the 1950's or 60's. Today, you can't even buy a kid a model rocket or a chemistry set without someone limiting the sale or fretting that you might be a terrorist.

      • But in one area the US shines: it is the head of a world-wide crime syndicate (the MAFIAA) that is telling nations worldwide how they should write their laws. That's true world domination!

        Indeed, what good is the ability to manufacture your own electronic devices if the MAFIAA tells you which devices you are allowed to manufacture? And what good is the ability to run a successful economy if the MAFIAA then hits you up for protection money (also known as royalties and license fees...)

      • Re:50 years ago... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by TKane (1069880) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @01:38PM (#39276599)
        50 years ago the highest marginal tax rate was 89 percent.
    • by fragtag (2565329)

      50 years ago the U.S. could put a man into space. Today it can't.
      50 years ago the U.S. was at the forefront of particle physics. Today it isn't.
      50 years ago the U.S. started development of 3 different spacecraft on 5 different man rated rockets over a 7 year span. Today it's 10 years just to develop one.
      50 years ago the U.S. had a plane capable of traveling at Mach 3.35. Today it doesn't.

      I seriously feel bad for the future country my kids will inherit. It doesn't seem like we're moving in the right direction on the science and technology front.

      I completely agree. We need to spend more money developing science and math education courses that engage children when they are young. Its sad to me the number of kids who don't even attempt word problems because they are "too hard".

    • Re:50 years ago... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ifrag (984323) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:27AM (#39275053)
      And basically all that research and science was driven by the Cold War. Scientific research can't really justify the budget for this stuff based purely on potential for profit.
      • Re:50 years ago... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by geckipede (1261408) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:52AM (#39275299)
        Mao once said that a communist nation would always be able to outmaneuvre a capitalist nation, because capitalism can only ever make moves that profit in the short term.

        I think it's fair to guess that in his own mind, he was comparing some utopian ideal of communism vs. a straw man capitalism, but even so, he had a point.
        • Re:50 years ago... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @01:16PM (#39276363) Homepage
          Well, it took China fifty years to recover from Mao's economic depradations, so possibly not the best authority to be quoting.
          • by tqk (413719)

            Well, it took China fifty years to recover from Mao's economic depredations ...

            I don't think China has recovered yet, but then I wouldn't blame all of that mess on Mao either. That country's been under the thumb of one dictator after another going back four thousand years. Chaing Kai Shek was no better than Mao, nor Emperor Chin.

          • by sjames (1099)

            A Maoist would just maintain that Mao's system required 60 years to recover from the previous government's failure.

      • by jythie (914043)
        Besides the cold war, it was also being fueled by the GI Bill which really gave us an explosion of skilled/educated workers who normally would not have been available to industry. Now however we are cutting back on such educational investment under the idea that the 'market' will somehow get the same results.
      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        War has always been a reason for mankind to invent stuff. Mostly better ways to destroy stuff but often tech trickles down from there to less deadly use. Even now the US military is doing a lot of research, e.g. when it comes to building faster / stealthier / unmanned / etc aircraft. That can only be good for advancing flight tech, and in return giving us safer, more comfortable and more efficient airliners. And so there is a lot more coming out of this strange desire to destroy.

      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Not even close. Basic scientific research, which is what we're running out of now, can't justify it's budget based purely on short term profit.

        People estimate that 80% of the west's economy is based on quantum mechanics, which was developed from about 1900-1930, with the not-so-basic engineering done mostly in the 50s and 60s. Since then we've been shortsightedly reaping the rewards, and we're starting to run out now.

    • by BornAgainSlakr (1007419) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:42AM (#39275205)

      If we had just lowered all taxes to zero and cut all job-killing regulations, we would have colonized the solar system 50 years ago instead of just putting a man in space.

      If we had just lowered all taxes to zero and cut all job-killing regulations, we would have pwned particle physics so hard it would be taught to 4th graders today in private religious schools the way God intended.

      If we had just lowered all taxes to zero and cut all job-killing regulations, you would be able to buy a spacecraft at your local Ford dealership in any of 40 different models, 5 different trim levels, and hundreds of different colors.

      If we had just lowered all taxes to zero and cut all job-killing regulations, no one would care about Mach 3.35 except the hippies that own Prii today. Everyone else would be getting on with their lives commuting between the Earth and Mars in their Ford spacecraft at a quarter of the speed of light.

      PS... NASA still has operating SR-71's, so we technically still have a plane capable of traveling at Mach 3.35. And, God only knows what the slow, Government-teat-sucking, mouth-breathing engineers have been able to cook up in the past 50 years. Maybe they have us up to Mach 4 now.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      "50 years ago the U.S. could put a man into space. Today it can't."
      and 60 years ago we couldn't. What;s tyiour point? It hasn't been a goal. If congress said 'Go to the moon' we would be there in less then 10 years.

      "50 years ago the U.S. was at the forefront of particle physics. Today it isn't.
      Because other countries are spending money and our competitive.

      "50 years ago the U.S. started development of 3 different spacecraft on 5 different man rated rockets over a 7 year span."
      because they had money and were

      • "The first flight of an SR-71 took place on 22 December 1964, at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California"

        48 years is close enough to 50 for this discussion. We had big dreams back then, making things that only DC Comics would imagine. Now those dreams belong to other countries.
      • "50 years ago the U.S. had a plane capable of traveling at Mach 3.35. Today it doesn't.
        this is just false.

        Fine. The A12 broke Mach 3 in 1963. So 49 years ago. I concede your point, it doesn't change the fact that this country has continued to shy away from the industrial and scientific frontiers that used to be established on a near weekly basis here. It isn't waxing nostalgic, its a simple truth. Our frontiers no longer lie in a national interest in being better than our forefathers. They lie in getting news that someone's kid took a bike ride to my friends list on facebook faster.

    • 50 years ago the U.S. was at the forefront of particle physics. Today it isn't.

      Today, being at the forefront of particle physics is beyond the means of any one country. Particle physicists left the nationalistic dickwaving behind and decided to collaborate on the biggest and most complicated piece of measuring equipment ever devised. This is progress.

    • by tool462 (677306)

      These things are expensive. The 50-years-ago golden age (1950s-1970s) had the top income tax bracket between 70 and 90%.
      http://ntu.org/tax-basics/history-of-federal-individual-1.html [ntu.org]

      Something to think about...

    • by l0ungeb0y (442022)

      50 years ago the U.S. could put a man into space. Today it can't..

      But we still have the know-how and we are actively building new launch systems that can and will support manned spaceflight.
      Just because we had to retire the Shuttle's before we have a replacement ready doesn't mean we can't.
      Besides, using the Suyuz craft is far more cost effective than continuing shuttle flights.

      50 years ago the U.S. was at the forefront of particle physics. Today it isn't.

      Yes we are. Just because we don't have the biggest dick on the Super-Collider block doesn't mean we aren't participating. How many colliders do we need? Do you know how big and expensive the LHC is

    • You could go around 100 years back and comment on the decline of the British Empire. On the whole, the UK weathered this dramatic change fairly well (no viking hordes or precursor Red Dawn equivalent). We can only hope (and prepare for) the same in the US - though we might have too many selfish greedy bastards to survive our transistion without landing in the third world.

    • 50 years ago you could catch smallpox. Today you can't
      50 years ago all production cars required petroleum products to run. Today you can buy electric.
      50 years ago the average life expectancy was 70. Today its 78 (enough time for two advanced degrees)
      50 years ago you needed an expensive encyclopedia set or journal to research a subject. Today all thats in front of your face, largely free...on that note...
      50 years ago random people around the world didn't really care what you thought. Today....well some
    • by JamesP (688957)

      Yes, but

      50 years ago you needed a spy plane to take pictures. Today you don't need one
      50 years ago you didn't have spacecraft orbiting or landing on Mars and other planets (and sending high quality pictures). Today you have
      50 years ago we were still learning how to send objects into orbit. Today it's common
      50 years ago sending data across the planet was a PitA. Today it's trivial

  • by ganv (881057) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:07AM (#39274889)
    If the US had extended funding for the Tevatron, the accomplishment of finding the Higgs as the Tevatron neared retirement would have been nice for American high energy physics, but it would likely have been bad for the field more broadly. Having the Higgs discovery near the beginning of data acquisition at the LHC will provide publicity and a morale boost that will enhance the productivity of the field over many years.
    • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @12:02PM (#39275393)
      So
      1. CERN finds some hints in where the Higgs is, ie around 125 GeV
      2. Tevatron looks at their logs in the range ~125 GeV and says "well it could have been here, indeed"
      3. Tevatron announces that they may have discovered the Higgs before, if ...

      Questions:
      1. What if CERN found at 110 GeV - maybe the Tevatron logs would show a similar indication?
      2. I thought there was a matter of collider power/energy, and the Tevatron is not powerful for that discovery in the first place, anyway?

      --
      March 7, 2012 Not a good day for my karma
      • by ceoyoyo (59147)

        The Tevatron was powerful enough, it's just that if the mass is near the top end of your accessible energies you need a lot more time to find something than if the mass is in the middle. The Tevatron may have been able to find some indications of the Higgs (especially when they knew where to look) but it might have taken a long time for them to amass enough events to make a definite discovery.

    • by Ihmhi (1206036)

      What we need to do is figure out how to shoot a particle accelerator like a big gun. Then the US would build one in a heartbeat.

      We could use Montana; there's basically nothing out there as it is.

  • by Ginger Unicorn (952287) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:08AM (#39274895)

    The Tevatron is currently being raided for parts

    Now I have an image of it being pulled apart by a gang of Sandpeople

  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @11:41AM (#39275181)
    First you have propose a decay scenario, several which exist for the Higgs. This scenario suggests what particle tracks will hit one of several hundred sub-detectors (several thousand in the LHC) for various angles and distances (lifetimes). And may have to be search for a wide set of rotations. Maybe only one per trillion collision events out of trillions recorded in petabytes of data. This is a multi-week supercomputer run for each scenario. An ambiguous result, the back to the drawing board, propose a new decay candidate and another calculation. Or as they plan do for half of every year, run the collider again to collect trillions more interesting collisions. Last years LHC proposed energy "bump" was only five contending events out of several trillion studied.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @01:02PM (#39276181)

      Last years LHC proposed energy "bump" was only five contending events out of several trillion studied.

      It's more than 5. For the ATLAS detector by itself, as of Dec 2011 [quantumdiaries.org] they had 89,760 probable Higgs events. (Whether or not they 'actually are' the Higgs remains to be seen of course.)

      Your overall point about the low frequency of events is correct, though. Those 89k events are from 380 trillion proton-proton collisions, which translates to an efficiency of 2.4×10^(-10).

  • by Beelzebud (1361137) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @12:32PM (#39275765)
    No one is saying the Tevatron discovered the Higgs, or that it 'beat' the LHC. They're saying that now that they know what they're looking for, they found HINTS of it in their data.

    Fun Fact: People from all over the world worked at the Tevatron in Illinois. We should all be sad it's gone. Also, many Americans are now working at, and helping to fund the LHC.

    It's sad that these projects that bring us together in peace, get treated as if they were sporting events or yet another political pissing match.
    • by tqk (413719)

      It's sad that these projects that bring us together in peace, get treated as if they were sporting events or yet another political pissing match.

      Hell, no! Projects like this are far more suited to that sort of thing than what's ordinarily done. Would you rather be watching a bit of dead pig skin flying through the air, or watching atoms being smashed together at X% of the speed of light?

      This game doesn't even have the distractions of things like wardrobe malfunctions, or Madonna's latest boring commercial. It's all meat! :-)

  • by krlynch (158571) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @12:35PM (#39275785) Homepage

    Shutting down the Tevatron with the turn-on of the LHC was the right move, from my perspective in the field. The Tevatron would NEVER have reached the magic 5sigma threshold for discovery confirmation, something the LHC will do easily if the Higgs is really near 125GeV. And running the Tevatron isn't free: it's tens of millions of dollars a year, and many hundreds of man-years of effort. This funding would have been essentially "lost", but more importantly, the lost man-years would have decimated many other projects that Fermilab and the high energy physics community considered much more valuable than an additional year or two of Tevatron running. It would also have delayed for years the development of new accelerator projects at Fermilab that are considered extremely high priority within the field. These issues are why the shutdown decision was taken in the first place. Tevatron was a great machine for thirty plus years. But time marches on, and we don't keep high cost infrastructure running based just on nostalgia....

    • by P-niiice (1703362)
      I think a hint of the Higgs is a good way for the Tevatron to go out. Great machine it was, and produced so much good science.
  • by mu22le (766735) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @01:00PM (#39276137) Homepage Journal

    (and on LHC too) let me call the conclusions of the article bullshit.

    This last hurrah suggests that Tevatron might indeed have found the Higgs ahead of CERN's Large Hadron Collider if they'd secured the funding required.

    It took Tevatron 10 years to accumulate as enough data to reach a 4 sigma result (let us not discuss the statistical details). It would have taken years to reach the 5 sigma level. On the other hand LHC has obtained in one year almost as much data as Tevatron in 10. By summer 2012 the amount of data recorded by LHC will be an impossible goal for Tevatron to accomplish. It just made no sense at all to keep the old machine on.

    The sad thing is not that Tevatron has been shut down but that the USA government is not investing any money in using the Fermilab infrastructure for some awesome future project (I'd love to see them try a muon collider).

    • by tqk (413719)

      Thanks for the excellent explain. "It just made no sense at all to keep the old machine on." It's thirty years old. Damned straight it's obsolete, even if very cool tech for its time.

      I'd love to see them try a muon collider.

      Like this [cms.cern.ch]? Why? You just proved Fermilab's not capable of keeping up with the LHC, so I'm left wondering what it would cost to retrofit Fermilab to that level. I think concentrating on CERN is a better basket for our eggs.

      Then again, I'm a dilettante (not an expert).

    • For those interested, Tomasso gives a good run down on the report here [science20.com]

  • You have to pay for social programs somehow. But really, the DOE put all our (USA) eggs in the CERN basket, so it made no sense to duplicate efforts. Sure it would be cool, but the LHC is the future.
  • The next big thing will no doubt be the Petatron Plasma Wakefield Accelerator. Where will it be built? Who knows, but it probably be small enough to fit inside a large industrial building. Or likely an adjunct to an existing collider.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Electron%E2%80%93Positron_Collider#An_unfinished_discovery_of_the_Higgs_boson

    LEP was able to do 200GeV near the end of his operation. Probably that it could have been hacked to discover the Higg.

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