“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.” -Richard Feynman
Like many suggestive signals in the past, the 750 GeV bump in the diphoton channel has turned out to be a mere phantasm: an unlikely statistical fluctuation that simply disappeared as more data was collected. While almost the entire particle physics community was hoping for a different outcome, this is apparently the Universe we were dealt.
The ATLAS and CMS diphoton bumps, displayed together, clearly correlating at ~750 GeV. Image credit: CERN, CMS/ATLAS collaborations, image generated by Matt Strassler at https://profmattstrassler.com/2015/12/16/is-this-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-the-standard-model/.
But anyone familiar with the history of particle physics shouldn’t be surprised by this result, as “there’s only a 1-in-3,000 chance this is a fluke” means there’s a *very good* chance that it is, in fact, a fluke. When you flip a coin ten times and get ten heads in a row, you worry that something is wrong. but when you flip a coin a thousand times and get ten heads in a row, you don’t.
Image credit: James Beacham for the ATLAS collaboration, via his Twitter account.
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