LHC Experiments Suggest A Second Higgs Boson. That, Or Someone Forgot To Clean The Accelerator

The Higgs Boson is easily one of the most exciting discoveries made by science in recent times. Hopefully you saved some of that excitement for the second Higgs-like particle, which CERN may or may not have discovered. It really depends on how much they've had to drink, apparently.

As this article on Wired explains, two methods are employed to measure the mass of the Higgs Boson using the LHC's ATLAS detector. The first is coming back with 126.6 gigaelectronvolts, or GeV, while the second is 123.5 GeV. Then there are the numbers from the CMS detector, which are around the 125 GeV mark, though this is within the resolution of the two aforementioned results.

However, the 126.6 and 123.5 numbers, while apparently not a large difference, are significant enough that there might not be one, but two Higgs Bosons floating around in the Standard Model, though no one is really convinced this is the case. Before any serious conclusions can be drawn, many, many more collisions will need to be analysed, providing a large enough sample to derive meaningful statistics.

Wired points to a French physics blog that suggests the disagreeing measurements are a result of human error and not a case of twin Higgs. From the blog:

One may be tempted to interpret the twin peaks as 2 separate Higgs-like particles. However in this case they most likely signal a systematic problem rather than some interesting physics ... All this makes us suspect down-to-earth reasons for the double vision, the likely cause being an ECAL [electromagnetic calorimeter] calibration error, an unlucky background fluctuation or alcohol abuse.

Alcohol abuse? I certainly hope the scientists aren't swigging vodka while they ram particles together. You know, because of the black holes that were supposed to have devoured Earth by now.


Image: CERN

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