Something in the air…

In another life I was a particle physicist, or rather I become an engineer involved in the ATLAS detector at the LHC Cern. Things change, projects carry on and I quit to blow things up with big lasers.

One of the primary stated aims of the LHC is to find the Higgs particle before any one else, or even better – rule out all possibility of a Higgs type particle. It now seems that LHC will not switch on until early next year, giving its sole competitor, the Tevatron, a chance to make the Higgs discovery (it can’t disprove the Higgs, it is incapable of covering the total possible energy range of the Higgs).

Reports tricked in last summer that an anomalous peak in the data had been seen that could point to possible Higgs discovery. This was later attributed to a statistical fluctuation. Now there are rumours that something more significant has been seen. Of course, no one from the Tevatron teams is saying anything official until the results are published in a journal.

Tevatron actually seeing a Higgs would really steal LHC’s thunder. LHC would go from discovery to stamp collecting – taking lots of data to pin down the details. Personally I rather hope neither machine sees a Higgs particle; then things get really interesting.

Tomorrow: A bit about the standard model and why I think not finding the Higgs is much more interesting than finding it.