Rumors about the Higgs March 4, 2007Posted by dorigo in Blogroll, humor, internet, news, personal, physics, politics, science.
Boy, do I love it when these things happen. The internet is a great place for public discussions about physics such as the one that has been taking place on the tentative MSSM Higgs signal seen by CDF.
John Conway, a long-time Higgs hunter, presented a month and a half ago in the Cosmic Variance site a very nice account of his search for the Higgs boson, and the result, showing a 2.1-sigma deviation which could indeed be the start of a revolution in high-energy physics.
The signal is discussed elsewhere, and among other places, in my blog, where I show that if the H->tau tau signal seen by Conway is real, one could take seriously an excess of events in a plot showing the Z->bb signal by the D0 collboration. I also point out that CDF is also seeing some upward fluctuation right at the same mass in the same kind of Z->bb plot, but I warn readers that it will take a month to make the plot public.
In the meantime, a New Scientist reporter gets intrigued, and he investigates, publishing bits of the story already in the February issue. Then he sits and waits for the CDF Z->bb signal to be published.
Once that signal is published, everybody can draw their own conclusions about the possibility that an upward fluctuation is indeed a signal or what.
Now John does a nice back-of-the-envelope calculation , showing that if the H->tau tau signal is real, there should be a more evident bump in the CDF Z->bb signal plot. And then I counter in the comments section of his post, arguing that indeed, my plot does not rule out a signal the size he sees in his tau-tau analysis.
So where do we stand, if you ask me ? Well, read the former post here, where I put some answers to the New Scientist reporter. Anyway, the possibility that a MSSM Higgs boson has just shown his hat and is slowly emerging from the Tevatron data is still on, IMHO.
What is fascinating is that the whole discussion is taking place in blogs, rather than in the most appropriate venues – CDF or D0 meetings at Fermilab. Indeed, those places are becoming a little too “bureaucratic”, in the sense that there is too much ordinary stuff to deal with – pre-bless this plot, bless that table, full- status this other analysis, blah – that the real sense of those meetings is lost. No more discussions on intriguing bumps, no arguing, nobody jumping up, no bad feelings.
Hmmm… I may sound foolish, but I preferred the Run I style – when there was indeed a lot of arguing in CDF meetings, but also lots of physics discussions and real meat on the fire. I may be a bit too blood-thirsty, but I like a fight once in a while, if only played by throwing physics reasoning at your opponent rather than sticks and stones. I will tell a few stories of hot CDF meetings one day.