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Higgs or no Higgs that is the question.


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First, the short answer:

If the Higgs is discovered, it will represent perhaps one of the greatest triumphs of the human intellect in recent memory, vindicating 50 years of the building of one of the greatest theoretical edifices in all of science, and requiring the building of the most complicated machine that has ever been built. That’s the good news. But if the Higgs is all that is found at the LHC, it will mean that the other crucial empirical guidance that physicists now need to try and understand truly fundamental questions about our existence—from understanding whether all four forces in nature are unified in some grand theory, to determining what may have caused the Big Bang—will still be absent. Answering these questions may be beyond our technical and financial capabilities in this generation.

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For a change I not going to go on and on about unproven alternatives but my money is that the Higgs boson can never conclusively be proved.

If the Higgs particle doesnt exist... what next?

What do you guys think?..

Edited by DarkStar7
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The scientific community are assuming it is true..that it exists.

Although unthinkable it would be very exciting to me because it would raise the profile of the the non Higgs model alternatives.

Does anyone have a view of the alternatives models?

Edited by DarkStar7
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For a change I not going to go on and on about unproven alternatives but my money is that the Higgs boson can never conclusively be proved.

If the Higgs particle doesnt exist... what next?

What do you guys think?..

The Standard Model Higgs has very distictive decay modes to other particles, these decay modes can be calculated and how often these modes occur can be estimated. The LHC experiments will now be counting these decay modes and comparing them to the model. This would provide evidence to confirm the object as consistent with the Higgs. It may take a little while to determine the relative fractions of these decay modes. So Peter Higgs et al might have to wait a little while for his Nobel.

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The Standard Model Higgs has very distictive decay modes to other particles, these decay modes can be calculated and how often these modes occur can be estimated. The LHC experiments will now be counting these decay modes and comparing them to the model. This would provide evidence to confirm the object as consistent with the Higgs. It may take a little while to determine the relative fractions of these decay modes. So Peter Higgs et al might have to wait a little while for his Nobel.

Here is a figure (from the website of the Imperial College group that works on this) that illustrates what Chris wrote:

Higgs_bratio.jpg

The Higgs mass is the bottom. Locate 125 on this scale and "draw" a vertical there. Start at the top, and come down this vertical line. The curve reached is the red curve labeled bb_bar. This shows that the probable decay mode of a 125 Gev Higgs is a meson composed of bottom and anti-bottom quarks. The vertical coordinate where the vertical line iintersects the red curve gives the probability that Higgs decays into a bb_bar meson (which then itself decay). Keep coming down the vertical line. The dashed WW curve is crosses next (W bosons), and, again, the vertical location gives the probability the a 125 Higgs decays into W bosons. And so on for tau anti-tau pairs ("heavy electrons"), charmed mesons, gluons, etc. All of these things decay, so there is a "chain" that leads form what is observed to this chart. Also, the "background" has to be subtracted. Very complicated calculations.

If this chart at 125 is confirmed, then we have a 125 Gev standard model Higgs. If these probabilities aren't confirmed by statistics, then we have something more interesting! A few years ago, David Griffiths, in the second edition of his standard particle physics book, made the prediction "If the measurements disagree (as they probably will), then the Higgs sector is more interesting than the minimal standard contemplates."

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