- uploaded: May 1, 2011
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Transcript by http://www.newsy.com
BY STEVEN SPARKMAN
You're watching multisource science news analysis from Newsy.
Throughout Easter weekend, rumors flew around the physics world that the long-sought Higgs boson had finally been found. The news came from what appeared to be a leaked internal document from physicists working on the Large Hadron Collider. ITWire has more.
"A mystery posting to the comments section of Peter Woit's blog Not Even Wrong has opened up a major can of worms in the particle physics community. The posting displays a 'note,' which in the industry is a memo or comment intended for internal discussion ... The information provided from the leaked note suggests that the Higgs was indeed discovered..."
It's only been a few weeks since data from the Tevatron particle accelerator caused a similar flurry of speculation about the Higgs. Similar rumors abound every time some anomalous data is discovered. But Wired reports the physicists in the note think this is the genuine article.
"Whether the Higgs is there or not, the paper is real. Physicists with access to the paper say it begins, 'It is the purpose of this Note to report the first experimental observation at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) of the Higgs particle.'"
That's certainly an ambitious opening statement. But physicist Jon Butterworth told Channel 4 it's just too easy for scientists working at the frontier of physics to get carried away with themselves.
"Now, what's happened here is a bunch of people have spent four nights without sleep and have made some plots and got rather overexcited, sent them in an internal note round the collaboration. Which is fine, every one's excited out there, but unfortunately it's leaked out."
Other scientists are urging similar restraint, saying the paper hasn't even passed the LHC team's own validity checks yet, much less been peer reviewed. New Scientist explains why such caution is important with something as complicated as particle physics.
"Particle collisions are messy and it takes a lot of careful analysis to separate anomalies from mundane background events. An error somewhere along the way could make a bump appear that isn't really there."
Even while being cautious, it's still fun to speculate what it would mean if this data were verified. Possible outcomes include a new type of particle, a Higgs that's somewhat different than predicted, and -- winning $1000 dollars?
Physicist Tommaso Dorigo writes on his blog at Science 2.0: "I bet $1000 with whomever has a name and a reputation in particle physics... that the signal is not due to Higgs boson decays. ... I am willing to bet that this is NO NEW PARTICLE. Clear enough?"
The rumors came as the LHC set a new record for particle collisions per second. With so much data being collected, many experts predict definitive proof of this Higgs by 2012.