Open Thread: November 2009

I will take up the bet on the Higgs field, with a couple of caveats:

You use the phrase "the Higgs boson", when several theories predict more than one. If more than one are found, I want that to count as a win for me.

If the LHC doesn't run, the bet is off.

Time limit: I suggest that if observation of the Higgs does not appear in the 2014 edition of "Review of Particle Physics", I've lost. "Observation" should be a five-sigma signal, as is standard, either in one channel or smaller observations in several channels.

25 dollars,... (read more)

Showing 3 of 4 replies (Click to show all)
1gwern10yI've added this bet to PredictionBook at http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1566 [http://predictionbook.com/predictions/1566] based on http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Bets_registry [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/Bets_registry]
5Mitchell_Porter10yI've just learned that Stephen Hawking has bet against the Higgs showing up [http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_7605000/7605748.stm]. Here's my argument against Higgs boson(s) showing up: The Higgs boson was just the first good idea we had about how to generate mass. Theory does not say anything about how massive the Higgs itself it is, just that there is an upper bound. The years have passed, it hasn't shown up, and the LHC will finally take us into the last remaining region of parameter space. So Higgs believers say "hallelujah, the Higgs will finally show up". But a Higgs skeptic just says this is the end of the line. It's just one idea, it hasn't been confirmed so far, why would we expect it to be confirmed at the last possible chance? Two years ago [http://ww.uniontrib.com/uniontrib/20070719/news_lz1c19collide.html]: I wrote to him at the time expressing interest in the bet, but asking for more details. (No reply.) The rather bold statement that QM itself implies a Higgs "or something like it" I think must be a reference to the breakdown in unitarity of the Standard Model that should occur at 1 TeV [http://www.physicsforums.com/archive/index.php/t-187870.html] - which implies that the Standard Model is incomplete, so something will show up. But does it have to be a new scalar boson? There are Higgsless models of mass generation in string theory. This all leads me to think anew about what's going to happen. The LHC will collide protons and detectors will pick up some of the shrapnel. I think no-one expects new types of particle to be detected directly. They are expected to be heavy and to decay quickly into known particles; the evidence of their existence will be in the shrapnel. The Standard Model makes predictions about the distribution of shrapnel, but breaks down at 1 TeV. So one may predict that what will be observed is a deviation in shrapnel distributions from SM predictions and that is all. Can we infer from this, and from the existin

Open Thread: November 2009

by [anonymous] 1 min read2nd Nov 2009551 comments

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