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A new short story on the Higgs on Nature January 16, 2007

Posted by dorigo in humor, internet, news, personal, physics, science, travel.

Nature (the magazine, not the bitch) has gotten interested in the Higgs boson – and in the trivia surrounding it, with two large laboratories going after the elusive particle. An article was published online last week by Jenny Hogan in http://www.nature.com/news/2007/070108/full/070108-4.html , and the next issue -going to press now- will also contain some information.

How did I get to know that ? That’s a funny story. Just before going to press, this morning Jenny was checking in the internet for relevant information, and she found this blog, where she read that the CDF collaboration will update their search results on the Higgs boson next February 4th. She then tried to contact me, to see if she could obtain some insider information, by sending me an e-mail which I failed to read in time (I am currently trying to finish reviewing an analysis note for CDF, and for once I was away from my laptop!).

The funny thing is that she did get me on the phone, despite I am in a CERN office of which I do not even know the phone number myself! Patrizia – who lives in this office and is currently sitting in front of me – answered the call, and she was as surprised as I was to see there was somebody looking for me.

I believe she got the number from some colleague in Padova, who was by chance close to my office and answered a call there. Chance had it that the person knew where I was and also had the phone number of the CMS-Padova office at CERN handy… Quite amusing.

In the end I think I answered Jenny’s questions clearly enough to dissipate any doubt: the CDF experiment is *not* going to update their search limits (on multiples of the SM Higgs production rate, not on Higgs mass!) to an extent that will change the picture. Not for the time being, at least…

Update: actually she got the number from the CERN press office. That does not subtract anything to her luck, since as far as I know my name is in their database since yesterday evening – when my re-registration was finally processed. I had been a cern user from 2001 to 2004, but then I had expired and all my information had been erased…



1. erikrau - January 17, 2007

As an uninformed-on-physics-and-many-other-things naked eye astronomer, I wonder what you make of the inflamatory Bob Parks on 12 January 2007 What’s New.

He definitely enjoys demagoguery, but I have found his political comments to sometimes be thought-provoking.

2. dorigo - January 17, 2007

Hi erik,

Never heard of this Parks before… And the page you link does not manage to inflame me.


3. erikrau - January 17, 2007

I guess the inflamatory part to my mind was his assertion that the Higgs mass changes depending on what is being funded to find it.

I am utterly not qualified to comment on that, but it does bring to mind an account, found in the book The Golem, of Eddington’s observations to test general relativity in1919. The interplay between theory and experimental design is a pretty interesting question, I think.

4. dorigo - January 17, 2007

I see… Well, until the Higgs is found, what its mass is can be the subject of whatever speculation, aimed at mocking the adverse collaboration or at getting funded. No big sin there 🙂

I have not read the book you mention (my education is embarassingly incomplete). However, I think I understand what triggers you- it is indeed a fascinating aspect of doing science in the modern age.


5. Gabriel Guerrer - January 18, 2007

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