Tuesday 3 July 2012

H-day -1: vigil

It's the evening of the last day of the old B.H. era, tomorrow we start counting from zero. I'm at CERN to attend the historical seminar starting at an ungodly hour tomorrow. On a night like this no way I can write anything semi-intelligent, so instead let me give just a bunch of personal, chaotic remarks.  

The Higgs boson was always everywhere particle physicists look, so it was easy to forget it  was a hypothetical concept. Superficially, tomorrow we'll simply learn, to a 1 GeV precision, the value of the last free parameter of the Standard Model. But if you stop and  think about it for a while, it really blows your mind. Almost a 50 years a shy guy writing what was then a fringe paper to shut up the referee adds in the revised version a mention of the scalar particle excitation predicted by his toy model. Within a few years the importance of the particle is generally recognized, and papa Weinberg incorporates it  in the  Standard Model, to this day the valid theory of fundamental interactions. With  time, the indirect evidence for its existence has been mounting. But only 48 years and many colliders later the search will come to an end. Even though the prediction is highly non-trivial (theoretically,  it is based on a weird concept of a scalar field obtaining a uniform vacuum expectation value throughout the spacetime; phenomenologically, never before have we seen a fundamental spin-0 particle, etc.),  the particle shows up in the final states where it was predicted to show up, and up to a factor of 2 within the predicted rate. This is a perfect moment to shout  "Physics works, bitches".   

I'll be blogging live from the CERN auditorium, you can tune to mine or one of a dozen of competing relations.


Anonymous said...

What a phenomenal historical day.
Never was I more proud to be a physicist.

Martin said...

Any comment on:

Jester said...

well, everybody knows that by now...

Aravinda said...

Thanks for the live blog. Almost better than being there ;-)

I wish people would stop focussing on the "particle that gives mass" and talk about "the particle that rolled down the hill" which is how I had always heard of it.

A truly exciting day. Wish someone had thought to bring extra underwear :-)