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(15) the Guardian on Facebook-HigsBosonAlike

(15) the Guardian on Facebook-HigsBosonAlike

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8/2/12 (15) The Guardian on Facebook1/3https://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/science/life-and-physics/2012/jul/30/higgs-boost?post_gdp=true
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Higgs boson: the definite article? | JonButterworth | Life & Physics
Higgs to b-quarks on a hillside in Israel with long exposure and flashlight (Jaap Onderwaater & Stefanie Piebinga)Read by 342 peopleRemove from timeline
Monday 30 July 2012 A week in Valencia discussing the new boson. When is a Higgs boson
the
Higgs boson, and does the boost help?
I just spent a great week in Valencia at the fourth annual"Boost" meeting. Long Spanish lunches should feature inmore conferences. Paella and red wine are excellent aids todiscussion, and somewhat to my surprise I found it easierthan usual to pay attention in the afternoon talks.Boost 2012 is the first conference I've been to since wediscovered the new boson. You know, the one which looks a lot like the StandardModel Higgs boson and which is certainly a new boson with some Higgs-likeproperties.This made the meeting even more exciting than last year and also means this is agood time to answer two questions I have been asked a few times since thediscovery. Both questions are connected quite directly to topics discussed at themeeting.The first is, why the caveat on the discovery? Why do we not just come out andsay we've found "the Higgs boson"?The second is: Just before the LHC started up, I wrote apaperwith threecolleagues about a new way to find the Higgs. This used "boosted" techniques,and apart from being one of the reasons for the Boost conference series, it wasthe subject of thefirst blog I ever wrote. It featured in a series of films called"Colliding Particles", which I highly recommend. In thefirst episode(and in thepaper) we made some bold claims about how this paper would have a big effect onHiggs physicsat the LHC. The question (getting there eventually) is: "Did it, then?"The answer to both questions, and the link to the Boost meetings, comes from
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8/2/12 (15) The Guardian on Facebook2/3https://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/science/life-and-physics/2012/jul/30/higgs-boost?post_gdp=true
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the fact that the new boson we have seen decays very rapidly. It has severaldecay options open. Any particular Standard Model Higgs boson will "choose"amongst the options randomly, but will do so according to probabilities that areprecisely predicted in the Standard Model. This is a common situation in quantumphysics: probabilities are predicted, but individual events are not.The Higgs in the Standard Model is there to give mass to two distinct types of particle -bosons and fermions. It is very intimately involved with the bosons,especially the W and the Z bosons, which carry the weak force. The Higgs breaksthe symmetry between the weak and the electromagnetic force by giving the Wand the Z mass while leaving the photon, which carries the electromagetic force,massless. This is why we knew the Higgs has to have a mass not too far from theW and Z, and that's why we knew we would find it at the LHC, if it was there.The connection to fermions, on the other hand, is less intimate. The role played bythe Higgs here is that it allows the fermions to have mass. There's no realprediction for what the masses are, and the way it gives them mass is qualitativelydifferent from the way it gives mass to the W and the Z.We discovered this new boson through its decays to pairs of photons and pairs of Zbosons (with some indication now that it also decays to W bosons). The fact thatit decays to Zs and probably also Ws at roughly the expected rate is strongevidence that whatever we have found, it is connected to electroweak symmetrybreaking. So I am comfortable calling it a Higgs boson. But we have not yet seenthe boson decay to fermions.The most common decay of the Higgs in fact is to fermions - to a b quark/antiquark pair. But there are many other ways such pairs can be produced, and theexperiments have trouble extracting the signal from background noise. Similarproblems applied at the Tevatron, where this decay mode was the best way of looking for the Higgs.The only other fermion decay we are likely to be able to measure at the LHC is thedecay to tau leptons. Here the CMS experiment in particular has made quite asensitive search, but so far neither CMS nor ATLAS sees anything.If and when we see the Higgs decaying in these two channels at roughly thepredicted rates, I will probably start calling this new boson
the
Higgs rather than
a
Higgs. It won't prove it is exactly the Standard Model Higgs boson of course, andlooking for subtle differences will be very interesting. But it will be close enough to justify the definite article. Anyhow back to decays to b-quarks. Our paper pointed out a few ways these canbe picked out from the backgrounds more easily, based around the idea that quitea few of the Higgs bosons produced at the LHC will be travelling quickly - i.e.boosted. Some more details are discussed in thepiece I wrote after Boost 2011 inPrincetonif you are interested. The methods we invented work better when theLHC is running at higher energy - it was designed for 14 TeV but it is currently onlyrunning at 8 TeV - and need more data before they are at their best. Even so, thepaper we wrote has had an effect on the current searches and is cited by bothCMSand ATLASin their Higgs-to-b-quarks papers. They also inspired a bunch of  other papers, some related to the Higgs but some of them about the stronginteraction or about searches for other new physics, beyond the Standard Model.Much of this is what we have fun working on at the Boost meetings.But the short answer to both questions is: we need to see this decay channel, andthe ideas from that paper are indeed helping.(1/8/2012 added a link I forgot in the first line to theIFIC websiteof the meeting)
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