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(National Post)   Pack it up, physics nerds. With the discovery of the Higgs Boson, there is nothing left to explore in the world of physics. Now turn around, it's wedgie time   (news.nationalpost.com) divider line 68
    More: Unlikely, God particle, Particle Physics, physics, modern physics, gluons, supersymmetry, string theory, boson  
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2591 clicks; posted to Geek » on 03 Jan 2013 at 11:12 AM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-01-03 03:40:07 PM  

entropic_existence: NowhereMon: How many times have people declared physics "done"?

They have been wrong every time.

And never has it been declared done by an actual Physicist would be my guess. As for the article, I am guessing the writer took Franklin's statements a bit out of context. It looks like she was talking about Particle Physics and Particle Accelerators. And her statement basically is: If this is definitely the Higgs (it isn't certain yet) and there is no indication we need anything else further to complete work on the Standard Model (there is some possibility that the Higgs discovered isn't exactly as predicted by the Standard Model), then I don't think we will build another accelerator because all of the other questions we have we still aren't sure how to approach with this methodology.


"There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now, All that remains is more and more precise measurement."

Lord Kelvin (physicist) ca 1880
 
2013-01-03 03:43:17 PM  
Unlikely. IIRC, although we found something that can only be called the Higgs Boson, it doesn't actually fit a number of the predictions made about it, and so now we have to go back and figure out what causes those discrepancies.
 
2013-01-03 03:48:07 PM  

Fizpez: the real question I guess is does movement relative to the field provide the mass or is is a more basic interaction?


The latter is the better way to think about it. It's hard to come up with helpful analogies for how the Higgs mechanism works because it simply is so different from anything familiar from the macro world, but here's my best shot at explaining it without math:

Imagine a very large punch bowl -- that's the universe. At first the punch bowl is empty of punch, but there is a bunch of stuff lying on the bottom of the bowl: some apple slices, some orange slices, some cherries, and a turd that some joker tossed in there. The fruit (and turd) represent elementary particles, the empty bowl represents a universe without a Higgs field, and all the particles sit on the bottom, which is analogous to them all having zero mass.

Now we add punch to the bowl, a really thick, sweet, sticky punch -- this is our Higgs field, and the depth of the liquid represents the value of the Higgs field (notice that the depth is the same everywhere). Now something interesting happens: all of the fruit (and the turd) float at different heights in the punch; the height they float at is analogous to how much mass they acquire. Some objects, like the turd, float all the way to the surface -- that's analogous to acquiring a lot of mass. Some, like the orange slices, are suspended in the middle -- they acquire less mass. And some, like the cherries, sit firmly on the bottom -- despite the Higgs field, they remain massless. Amazingly, from all having zero mass they go to having different masses according to how much they "interact with" the punch (or as physicists would say, how strongly they interact with the Higgs field).

In summary:
Depth of the punch == Strength of the Higgs field (non-zero everywhere)
Empty punch bowl == Universe without a Higgs field
Fruit (and turd) on bottom of bowl == With no Higgs field, particles have zero mass
Floating fruit (and turd) == Particles acquire different masses by interacting with the Higgs field.


Of course, the analogy is far from perfect. In particular if you give a piece of fruit a push it will move through the punch a little and then slow down and stop, which is completely unlike the Higgs field. A particle can never actually tell that is "moving through" the Higgs field, which doesn't resist movement like a liquid, nor provide some kind of preferred background frame of reference. In this respect in particular the Higgs field is very hard to grok because there's nothing really like it in everyday experience.

There are a lot of other subtleties ignored here, by the way, that are often obscured by the pop sci reporting. For example, the Higgs only accounts for the rest mass of elementary particles such as quarks: most of the mass of a (non-elementary) proton or neutron comes from the energy of the interactions of the quarks and gluons that make it up, and would hardly change if the Higgs field were zero. Also, it's not clear where neutrinos get their mass, and it might well not be the Higgs mechanism.

Now you might be wondering where the Higgs boson comes into things. It turns out that the Higgs boson itself is just about the least interesting part of the story and is largely incidental. The Higgs field is the really important thing, but quantum field theory tells us that if there's a field there must be an associated boson, and detecting that boson is how physicists confirm the existence of the Higgs field.
 
2013-01-03 03:49:04 PM  

Felgraf: I realize you're not necessarily a theorist, but is string theory still (mostly) unfalsifiable, or, uh, is it still just pretty math wankery that should be called "string hypothesis" or "String conjecture"?


You're correct in realizing that I'm not a theorist. So... brace yourself ;)

String theory has some real teeth to it, in the sense that it's much more substantial than mere "hypothesis" or "conjecture". In fact, quite some significant contributions to the field of pure mathematics have come from string theorists. That being said, about 20 years ago there was a slight embarrassment of riches in that there were five different string theories. Then along came Witten (and others) and showed that all five are all related (through duality), and in fact describe the same phenomena. However, each theory works better in certain "areas" (or with certain assumptions), like low-energy range, heavy particle masses, etc. Nonetheless, they are related and each work in their own way (plus supergravity was also combined with them).

So now we have a philosophical dilemma, I guess. We WANT a single beautiful theory, but the reality is that we may have to settle on different theories for different ranges of phenomena, each completely correct (and each related), but also incapable of being unified into a SINGLE true theory. It sounds messy, and humans generally strive for more aesthetic explanations, but if nature really DID behave in a way that couldn't be described by a single theory, I for one would think that was pretty darn cool.
 
2013-01-03 03:56:17 PM  

NowhereMon: "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now, All that remains is more and more precise measurement."

Lord Kelvin (physicist) ca 1880


FYI

- Although reportedly from an address to the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1900), the quote is only duplicated without citation to any primary source in various books, including Paul Davies and Denis Alexander. To be more credible, a source prior to the 1980s and close to 1900 is needed.

- Confusion may be due to Michelson who made a similar quote whilst mentioning Lord Kelvin: In 1894, Albert A. Michelson remarked that in physics there were no more fundamental discoveries to be made. Quoting Lord Kelvin, he continued, "An eminent physicist remarked that the future truths of physical science are to be looked for in the sixth place of decimals" [1].
 
2013-01-03 03:57:58 PM  

Millennium: Unlikely. IIRC, although we found something that can only be called the Higgs Boson, it doesn't actually fit a number of the predictions made about it, and so now we have to go back and figure out what causes those discrepancies.


Well the Higgs is so short lived what we actually measure are the energies of the particles it decays in to. IIRC we predicted a single decay particle with a certain energy particle, we have actually observed two, with energies pretty close to one another. So there is some question about whether there are two distinct decay products and if so why, or whether it is a technical artifact of some sort.
 
2013-01-03 04:03:09 PM  
Great headline subby, take a bow!
 
2013-01-03 04:12:39 PM  

entropic_existence: Millennium: Unlikely. IIRC, although we found something that can only be called the Higgs Boson, it doesn't actually fit a number of the predictions made about it, and so now we have to go back and figure out what causes those discrepancies.

Well the Higgs is so short lived what we actually measure are the energies of the particles it decays in to. IIRC we predicted a single decay particle with a certain energy particle, we have actually observed two, with energies pretty close to one another. So there is some question about whether there are two distinct decay products and if so why, or whether it is a technical artifact of some sort.


In addition to the above, the theory predicts that there are various ways that the Higgs boson could decay ("channels" in the jargon), each with different probabilities. Initially there may be some discrepancies in the observed rates of seeing each decay channel compared to the predictions, but these may wash out with more data. If not, then something interesting is going on.

Also, at the risk of being pedantic: Some theories beyond the Standard Model, including many forms of supersymmetry, predict more than one Higgs boson (although, to be clear, not two so close in energy). The absence of such a signal in the data so far isn't yet fatal for supersymmetry, but it sure is running out of places to hide.
 
2013-01-03 04:37:49 PM  

entropic_existence: NowhereMon: How many times have people declared physics "done"?

They have been wrong every time.

And never has it been declared done by an actual Physicist would be my guess. As for the article, I am guessing the writer took Franklin's statements a bit out of context. It looks like she was talking about Particle Physics and Particle Accelerators. And her statement basically is: If this is definitely the Higgs (it isn't certain yet) and there is no indication we need anything else further to complete work on the Standard Model (there is some possibility that the Higgs discovered isn't exactly as predicted by the Standard Model), then I don't think we will build another accelerator because all of the other questions we have we still aren't sure how to approach with this methodology.

all the science budgets of every nation and university in the world combined for over ten years aren't enough to build a machine usefully bigger than the LHC.

FTFY.

In any case, we know for 100% fact that the Standard Model is incomplete:

Neutrinos definitely have mass. Something violated baryon number conservation in the early epoch to create matter. Something prevents Higgs loops from making the Top mass diverge. Something keeps W/Z scattering cross sections sane at the multiple TeV scale.

Whether we can answer any of these with the LHC, or any machine that can be constructed on earth with known technologies, is a good question.

/But we can spend $700 billion in a single day bailing out banksters with no consequences for them
 
2013-01-03 04:38:48 PM  

czetie: Now you might be wondering where the Higgs boson comes into things. It turns out that the Higgs boson itself is just about the least interesting part of the story and is largely incidental. The Higgs field is the really important thing, but quantum field theory tells us that if there's a field there must be an associated boson, and detecting that boson is how physicists confirm the existence of the Higgs fie


I was aware that the particle was the "incarnation" if you will of the field - proof that the field existed would be shown if the corresponding particle existed. Interesting analogy as well ;)

What is the theory on why some particles interact strongly with the field and others do not? Is it possible the field is, for lack of a better word, polarized in some way and some particles slip through it easier? Thanks for the education btw.
 
2013-01-03 04:52:17 PM  

Fizpez: What is the theory on why some particles interact strongly with the field and others do not? Is it possible the field is, for lack of a better word, polarized in some way and some particles slip through it easier?


To be honest, I'm not sure I can give you a better answer than "that's just the way nature works". Apparently, the universe has quantum fields and particles [which, strictly speaking, are just excitations in the fields], and the fields and particles "couple to" each other with different strengths (or in some cases, not at all: saying that a particle has zero charge is another way of saying that it doesn't couple to the electromagnetic field), and the strengths of the couplings are parameters of the Standard Model rather than being derivable from the theory, and that's all I got. As far as I know, why the strengths are different, let alone why they take the particular values they do, requires a deeper theory than the Standard Model.

Of course, I may be completely wrong on that, and one of our resident real physicists will be along to set me straight...
 
2013-01-03 04:57:49 PM  

NowhereMon: entropic_existence: NowhereMon: How many times have people declared physics "done"?

They have been wrong every time.

And never has it been declared done by an actual Physicist would be my guess. As for the article, I am guessing the writer took Franklin's statements a bit out of context. It looks like she was talking about Particle Physics and Particle Accelerators. And her statement basically is: If this is definitely the Higgs (it isn't certain yet) and there is no indication we need anything else further to complete work on the Standard Model (there is some possibility that the Higgs discovered isn't exactly as predicted by the Standard Model), then I don't think we will build another accelerator because all of the other questions we have we still aren't sure how to approach with this methodology.

"There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now, All that remains is more and more precise measurement."

Lord Kelvin (physicist) ca 1880


Ctrl-F "Kelv" 0 hits!
Yes! Maybe my chance to deliver knowledge to the unwashed masses has finally come!
Page 2. Ctrl-F...

/darn you
 
2013-01-03 04:59:34 PM  

czetie: In addition to the above, the theory predicts that there are various ways that the Higgs boson could decay ("channels" in the jargon), each with different probabilities. Initially there may be some discrepancies in the observed rates of seeing each decay channel compared to the predictions, but these may wash out with more data. If not, then something interesting is going on.

Also, at the risk of being pedantic: Some theories beyond the Standard Model, including many forms of supersymmetry, predict more than one Higgs boson (although, to be clear, not two so close in energy). The absence of such a signal in the data so far isn't yet fatal for supersymmetry, but it sure is running out of places to hide.


That's true too. I'm only an interested amateur when it comes to physics, Evolution and Genetics are my stock and trade. But there was a good interview on CBC's Quirks and Quarks with Sean Carroll about his new book on the subject (youtube version here) Carroll mentioned some about the supersymmetry and a bit about "where we go from here" in terms of particle physics and colliders, including the planned upgrade to the LHC that is occuring this year. Was a good segment.
 
2013-01-03 06:05:51 PM  

DeltaPunch: internut scholar: DeltaPunch: As a particle physicist, my mind was being blown by the general inaccuracy of all those statements listed above. ;)

As an engineer, what can we expect to be making with these new findings?

Nothing of practical value, directly from the particles themselves. However, collaborations often make a ton of progress in simulations, accelerator/beam sciences, computing, research techniques, "hard science" software, etc. E.g. a mostly German group is leading the push for analysis of particle data through a computational neural network system, (which currently most other scientists scratching their heads). I suppose some real value could come from this one day, with applications in other fields.


Thats what blows my mind. This was a huge
discovery and even the people that did it can't dream up what may be the outcome.
Wake me up when we can beam our own particles across the universe or at least a "free energy machine".
 
2013-01-03 06:21:24 PM  

Ivo Shandor:
ReverendLoki: Hey now, this is clearly a physics thread. We'll have none of your chemistry humor here.

[imgs.xkcd.com image 740x308]


Philosophy frowns on your shenanigans.
 
2013-01-03 07:24:17 PM  

internut scholar: DeltaPunch: internut scholar: DeltaPunch: As a particle physicist, my mind was being blown by the general inaccuracy of all those statements listed above. ;)

As an engineer, what can we expect to be making with these new findings?

Nothing of practical value, directly from the particles themselves. However, collaborations often make a ton of progress in simulations, accelerator/beam sciences, computing, research techniques, "hard science" software, etc. E.g. a mostly German group is leading the push for analysis of particle data through a computational neural network system, (which currently most other scientists scratching their heads). I suppose some real value could come from this one day, with applications in other fields.

Thats what blows my mind. This was a huge
discovery and even the people that did it can't dream up what may be the outcome.
Wake me up when we can beam our own particles across the universe or at least a "free energy machine".


"I do not think that the wireless waves I have discovered will have any practical application." -- H.R.Hertz

IMO: We do basic science for its own sake, because we want to understand the universe. It's possible that something will come from this, although more probably indirectly than directly, for example what we learn at the LHC leads to a successor to the Standard Model which in turn... But regardless, we do this because it's awesomely cool.

BTW, what blows my mind is this: We are essentially over-evolved apes, wet sacks of neurons tottering around on bags of blood and bones, with lifespans so short that even trees blink and miss us, stuck at the bottom of a gravity well on one little planet in one galaxy among hundreds of millions of galaxies... and from that perspective we are this close to understanding how it's all put together.
 
2013-01-03 08:21:24 PM  

czetie: internut scholar: DeltaPunch: internut scholar: DeltaPunch: As a particle physicist, my mind was being blown by the general inaccuracy of all those statements listed above. ;)

As an engineer, what can we expect to be making with these new findings?

Nothing of practical value, directly from the particles themselves. However, collaborations often make a ton of progress in simulations, accelerator/beam sciences, computing, research techniques, "hard science" software, etc. E.g. a mostly German group is leading the push for analysis of particle data through a computational neural network system, (which currently most other scientists scratching their heads). I suppose some real value could come from this one day, with applications in other fields.

Thats what blows my mind. This was a huge
discovery and even the people that did it can't dream up what may be the outcome.
Wake me up when we can beam our own particles across the universe or at least a "free energy machine".

"I do not think that the wireless waves I have discovered will have any practical application." -- H.R.Hertz

IMO: We do basic science for its own sake, because we want to understand the universe. It's possible that something will come from this, although more probably indirectly than directly, for example what we learn at the LHC leads to a successor to the Standard Model which in turn... But regardless, we do this because it's awesomely cool.

BTW, what blows my mind is this: We are essentially over-evolved apes, wet sacks of neurons tottering around on bags of blood and bones, with lifespans so short that even trees blink and miss us, stuck at the bottom of a gravity well on one little planet in one galaxy among hundreds of millions of galaxies... and from that perspective we are this close to understanding how it's all put together.



Good point.
I was just hoping someone more knowledgeable than me could dream up something to look forward to.
I don't like to think that we will miss out on the best yet to come....if that makes any sense
 
2013-01-03 08:57:32 PM  
farm9.staticflickr.com
 
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