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Tevatron results: W marks the spot | Life & Physics | Bo Jayatilaka

2 Mar 2012, 06:35 UTC
Tevatron results: W marks the spot | Life & Physics | Bo Jayatilaka
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It's often said that without a Higgs boson, the standard model of particle physics is in deep trouble. As Bo Jayatilaka writes, if this ellipse didn't overlap with this line, it already would be...The physics community waits with bated breath for announcements pending from teams of particle physicists on either side of the Atlantic. These physicists, working at the LHC and the Tevatron – a similar, but less powerful accelerator that operated in the United States until September of 2011 – are expected to show the latest results from their Higgs boson searches. Even if a discovery is announced, the questions don't stop there. In fact, even before the champagne stops flowing, the prevalent question amongst the boffins will turn from "will you discover something?" to "what have you discovered?" Experimental particle physicists are treasure hunters sifting through the vast sands that are their data. And while we employ rigorous statistical tests to determine if we've struck treasure of just a piece of driftwood, we don't always have a way of telling what our treasure is once we've hauled it out. In the case of the Higgs boson, the map we follow is the venerable theory of particle physics known ...

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