July 14, 2010

Rumors Of Higgs Boson Detection Not Valid

Physicists have denied rumors that a U.S. atom smasher has detected the elusive Higgs boson.

A spokesman for the lab that operates the Tevatron accelerator denied scientists had made a discovery there.

The Tevatron, based at Fermilab in Illinois, is the U.S. rival to Europe's Large Hadron Collider (LHC). 

An Italian particle physicist made the rumors public through a blog post.

However, a spokesman for the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) told BBC News, "There is not merit to the rumors of the Higgs discovery."

Fermilab's Twitter feed said on Tuesday:  "Let's settle this: the rumors spread by one fame-seeking blogger are just rumors. That's it."

Stefan Soldner-Rembold, spokesperson for the DZero experiment, told BBC News, Tthere is no evidence yet of a Standard Model Higgs signal; more data will be needed for that."

"The rumors started by the blog are not correct and blogs are not a reliable source of information."

The Higgs boson, also known as the God particle, plays a big role in the widely accepted theory of physics known as the Standard Model.

It is the subatomic particle that explains why all other particles have mass.

However, no one has detected it so far.

Tommaso Dorigo, a physicists at the University of Padua in Italy, wrote on his blog last week, "It reached my ear, from two different, possibly independent sources, that an experiment at the Tevatron is about to release some evidence of a light Higgs boson signal."

"Some say a three-sigma effect, others do not make explicit claims but talk of a unexpected result."

"Three-sigma" refers to the statistical certainty of the result that there is a 99.7 percent likelihood of an accurate measurement.

However, the errors and fluctuations in the data means physicists require an effect of five-sigma in order to provide convincing evidence of a discovery.

Physicist and blogger Lubos Motl published more details on the Tevatron rumors on Tuesday.  However, he said that the anonymous source for his information was skeptical of the observation.

Finding the God particle is the primary aim of the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider(LHC) experiment near Geneva.  However, the giant particle smasher is not expected to be capable of searching for the signal from a Higgs boson until 2011 at the earliest.

The possibility remains that the Tevatron could still make a discovery before the European machine.

Particle physicists are set to present new data from their experiments at the International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP) in Paris.


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