25 November, 2011

Higgs looking unlikely

The search for the Higgs boson has apparently entered the 'endgame'. As I mentioned a few months ago, the mass/energy ranges in which Higgs was expected to be found have all but been ruled out. Since then, as this article in the latest edition of Nature explains, the searches in lower and higher mass ranges have been unsuccessful. The last remaining possibility is that the Higgs is lurking somehwere between 114–141 GeV.

Data from this range has been collected and is currently being analysed:

The answer to the Higgs question lies in the data now being crunched at CERN and other academic-computing centres around the world. The first 70 trillion or so collisions turned up intriguing Higgs-like decays in the ATLAS and CMS experiments, hinting at a particle of around 140 GeV (see Nature 475, 434; 2011). But the second batch of collisions showed nothing. If the collisions now being analysed show further evidence of Higgs decays, then the teams on the two experiments are likely to announce that they have found a tentative signal, to be firmed up in 2012. If not, the search will probably continue until the LHC is shut down for an upgrade at the end of next year.

Of interest, several prominent physicists were asked for their opinion as to whether Higgs will be found. Opinions differed (click image for larger and clearer version):

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