Generally speaking, the Higgs searches at the LHC could unfold according to one of the following three scenarios:
- Experimentalist's hell: no Higgs is found at the LHC. The experimentalists feel awkward, politicians ask difficult question, the public suggests to check for loose cables. Meanwhile, theorists spam the arXiv with countless Higgsless, invisible Higgs, unHiggs, or buried Higgs models. Since last December this scenario has become very unlikely.
- Theorist's hell: Higgs is discovered, perfectly matching the predictions of the Standard Model. The public cheers, everyone pats experimentalists on the backs, Gary Taubes writes "Nobel Dreams II". A few years later, the last particle theorist leaves his office, switches off the light, and returns the key.
- Heaven for all: Higgs is discovered, but it's different than the one predicted by the Standard Model. This is the best of all worlds, where the measured Higgs properties clearly point to the existence of other, yet unknown particles within the reach of the LHC. For the rest of the century theorists and experimentalists work hand in hand to pinpoint the true theory of fundamental interactions at the weak scale.
To wrap up, although the general public expects binary answer: Higgs or not Higgs, 5 sigma or less, Italy or Spain, etc, the stakes are somewhat different for particle physicists. Most of the theorists have already answered yes to the Higgs questions; now the most pressing issue is whether the resonance observed at the LHC is the Standard Model Higgs or not. Intriguingly, the 2011 Higgs data were showing hints of something interesting going on: a somewhat too large rate in the Higgs-to-diphoton channel, and a deficit of events in the WW channel. The 4th of July may clarify whether these were simply statistical fluctuations, or whether the hints persist in the new data. It would be ironic if the day of the greatest triumph of the Standard Model were also the beginning of its collapse...