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If the Higgs Boson Is Found I'll.....

Displaying poll results.
Finally be able to explain the origin of mass
  2044 votes / 7%
Complete the Standard Model
  922 votes / 3%
Learn to master electromagnetic forces
  1085 votes / 4%
Think the $10 billion spent on the LHC was well spent
  5084 votes / 19%
Go to Disneyland
  1225 votes / 4%
Do the same things I always do
  13021 votes / 50%
Who's this Higgs guy?
  2353 votes / 9%
25734 total votes.
[ Voting Booth | Other Polls | Back Home ]
  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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If the Higgs Boson Is Found I'll.....

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  • by Hartree (191324) on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:54AM (#40516773)

    Well, I do intend to brush up on my E&M.

    But I intend to do that every day, so I guess the same as always.

  • Same thing (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2012 @09:59AM (#40516801)

    The same thing I do every night.

    Try to take ov^H^H^H^H^H^H^H understand the world!

  • by butalearner (1235200) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:04AM (#40516841)
    Don't get me wrong, his job is important but shouldn't we look for the Higgs Captain?
  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:14AM (#40516911) Homepage

    I'd like to pick option 1, but, actually, I've never really seen a good explanation of the Higgs mechanism; all the explanations I've seen end up being either way too superficial, or way too mathematical, so I have no idea what the origin of mass is even if the Higgs particle is found.

    It doesn't help that the word "mass" is used in physics with at least five different meanings (connected meanings, of course, linked via relations such as the equivalence principle), and I'm not quite sure which meaning(s) of mass is(are) being explained.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:32AM (#40517019)

      I'm no expert either. Apparently the proton's rest mass is 1% due to the Higgs and 99% due to the kinetic energy of its component quarks (energy mass). AFAICT the Higgs doesn't explain this 99%, M-E equivalence does; Higgs explains only the rest mass of the quarks.

      I've heard claims that if the rest mass wasn't there, everything else would be super-mysterious, but photons seem to do OK with kinetic energy and no rest mass, so I'm as confused as you are about this Higgs thingy.

      I think perhaps it's real importance is to complete the Standard Model, not really to explain mass, and that the explaining mass part is just a handy media soundbite.

      Can anyone more knowledgeable inform us?

      • by Altrag (195300) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:14PM (#40535487)

        Its been a while, but the rest mass is the important part for making particles travel less than the speed of light. Light itself has kinetic mass for example, and yet it still travels at the speed of light.

        Kinetic mass also has the property that it changes depending on your frame of reference. If you manage to push yourself up to the speed of light (so that you're traveling right along side some specific photon,) then you would measure that photon's mass as zero. A proton on the other hand would have a non-zero mass (its rest mass.) The Higgs mechanism is an explanation for why that non-zero mass exists.

        One of Leonard Susskind's lectures goes into detail as to exactly what happens here, but its been a year or so since I watched those and I can't recall much details by now. All I really remember is that the Higgs is a scalar field and that there's some kind of pseudo-motion at the bottom of a Mexican hat function. The energy of the cross-motion (up and down the sides) interacts with real matter in some fashion giving rise to the observed rest masses. Or something like that! Might want to go watch the videos yourself in case my memory is more off-base than I think it is ;).

      • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @10:38PM (#40537301) Journal
        The Higgs mechanism predicts the existence of a new field, the Higgs field, which is very different from the fields I will assume that you are already familiar with like electric and magnetic fields. First it is a scalar field, while e.g. the magnetic field is a vector. So while a magnetic field has a direction (which is why compasses point north) the Higgs field does not which means that, instead of creating a force it just binds to particles in it.

        The other strange property that when you take all the energy out of the Higgs field the strength of the field does not go to zero. This is another big difference with, e.g. magnetic fields where no energy means that the field strength is zero. This property means that the universe is filled with a non-zero Higgs field because the lowest energy state of the field is when the strength is not zero. This non-zero field, filling the universe, is what fundamental particles bind to and this binding energy gives them a mass. So, fundamentally, the Higgs mechanism explains why mass is related to energy because all masses come from energy.

        The final piece of the puzzle is why do we need to do all this instead of just give the particles a mass. This reasoning is a little complex but if we just give the particles masses this breaks an important symmetry which we see in nature. The Higgs mechanism gets around this by letting the physics be symmetric but having the universe (i.e. the environment) not be symmetric due to the non-zero Higgs field.
    • by Artraze (600366) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:51AM (#40517699)

      Here is a pretty good explanation: []

      In short (and by my potentially incomplete understanding), the theory explains mass as a sort of drag introduced by the Higgs field. This serves to link mass and energy, explaining where rest mass comes from and why mass increases at relativistic velocities (higher drag). This is handy because we've 'known' for a while that mass is an artifact of energy but had no real explanation as to how/why. As far as "explaining mass", however, it does almost nothing: It replaces 'why does this have mass x' with 'why does this have y interaction with the Higgs field'. So indeed I'd not personally consider it as an "explanation for the origin of mass", but it is a step in the right direction (well, supposing it is right!).

      • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @11:13PM (#40537557) Journal

        As far as "explaining mass", however, it does almost nothing

        No, actually it does a huge amount! The bit you are missing is that if you give particles mass then they break very important symmetries of nature (which in turn means that we would expect to see violations of conservation laws which are not observed). The Higgs mechanism gets around this by saying that while the laws of physics are symmetrical the universe is not. So while on the face of it may seem not to do much for mass behind the scenes it lets us have both the particle masses and the symmetries which we need to explain the universe.

    • by Orga (1720130)

      Now when I build mass fabricators in Supreme Commander I'll be able to better appreciate the energy required.

  • Great for science (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alwin Henseler (640539) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:22AM (#40516945) Homepage

    If fundamental understanding of how the universe we live in works: great (and then those billions spent on the LHC might have been well spent). If such improved understanding translates into practical applications over time, even better.

    But other than that: who cares (and that's coming from an ex physics student).

    • by schroedingers_hat (2449186) on Monday July 02, 2012 @10:14PM (#40523435)
      If the Higgs had not been found, it would have been just as well spent -- arguably more so. New physics is always more interesting than 'standard model works for almost everything again -- still having trouble with gravity, news at 11.'
      Also banging on the practical applications drum is getting tiresome. Fundamental research should be carried out for its own sake.
      I could cite the everything everywhere* that says practical applications of fundamental research come eventually but that is beside the point. This machine we call civilization is spending most of its energy doing nothing but spinning its gears. Spending more and more effort to produce widgets and convince people to buy them so they can wind up in landfill, or spending a significant minority of world effort on building militaries just in case the other guy attacks.
      Looking at this: []
      Even a tiny country like New Zealand could have easily funded the thing alone rather than buying obsolete second hand fighters. Australia could do it in a single year with change -- and that's not even getting into countries with a military that would do anything on a world scale. *I challenge you to find a single artefact created in your lifetime that did not involve knowledge of EM -- 'what nonsense, making a needle move, where are the practical applications?' -- somewhere in the production of it or the tools used to produce it
      • by geekoid (135745)

        Pet Rocks.
        Super Soaker
        Hi impact Dice.
        I could name many.

        Although to be honest I'm not exactly sure what you mean by artifact.

        However, yes supplemental research should be carried out for it'sown sake, ad we should do more.

        We are clever animals, and if some makes a discovery, someone else will eventual find a practical devices that uses it.

      • 1% of a Bank Bailout (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Roger W Moore (538166) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @11:18PM (#40537595) Journal

        Even a tiny country like New Zealand could have easily funded the thing alone rather than buying obsolete second hand fighters.

        Actually a colleague of mine pointed out that the entire cost of the LHC, including all our experiments, was under 1% of the bank bailout. So, not only is the cost not large, but if we could not get jobs as physicists and had to work for banks think how much more we could be costing you!

    • You mean like... Pretty much everything high-tech in modern society that were built on a foundation of particle physics done in the first half of the previous century?

      There were scientists back in the 50's that were complaining about the $30.000 being 'wasted' on such an expensive particle accelerator.
    • by jd (1658)

      Practical applications are guaranteed. When is another matter - I'm guessing 40 years to the first demonstrable use, 40 more to the first practical use.

      WHAT those practical applications are is anyone's guess. We've not found the graviton (the Standard Model can't be completed beyond the Unified Theory stage - can't do GUT without the graviton), but who needs to control gravity if you can control mass? Mass is arguably a much more useful thing to be able to manipulate.

      Personally, I'm more interested in thing

  • by Skapare (16644) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:18AM (#40517421) Homepage

    ... make a fake copy and sell it on EBay.

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      ... make a fake copy and sell it on EBay.

      Either that, or try using it to pick up girls with ... something's got to work!

      • by arth1 (260657)

        Either that, or try using it to pick up girls with ... something's got to work!

        My "Particle physics gives me a hadron" T-shirt works great.

        I'm thinking of making a Three Wolf One Boson one.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        You know what works? asking.
        Now it might only work 1 out of 20 times, but that's no reason no to ask the first 19!

        Richard Feynman was a nerd. He wasn't exactly over handsome. He just talked to women and asked. When one said no, you move onto the next.

        So ask..jut don't be creepy.

  • by Misagon (1135) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:28AM (#40517507)

    Who's this Higgs bozo?

  • by artor3 (1344997) on Monday July 02, 2012 @11:56AM (#40517725)

    Spend a few days in a media blackout to avoid hearing all the idiots talk about the "God particle".

  • Try to take over the world.

  • The Higgs field is conjectured to be responsible for the rest mass of certain particles, in particular the quarks that make up protons and neutrons. However, the vast majority of the mass of a proton or neutron doesn't come from the quarks themselves, but from the binding energy holding them together. Without the Higgs field things would be just a few percent lighter.

    • Uh, what? This isn't right.

      Binding energy is what get's released when you form the various heavier particles - it's why quarks condense into hadrons, and why you need staggeringly high energy collisions to produce free quarks.

      So, absent the Higgs field, all these things would have no mass whatsoever.

      • by smolloy (1250188)

        He's actually right (sort of) ---> review paper []

        The Higgs serves to explain the mass of the W & Z bosons, plus the quarks that make up nucleons, but for various reasons (explained in the previous link), the mass of the individual constituent quarks does not contribute to the observed mass of the nucleons. Rather, that comes from back-reaction forces provided by QCD. The mass of neutrons & protons, and thus most normal matter, has been predicted by theory long ago.

        It's not binding energy like he

  • by bobbied (2522392) on Monday July 02, 2012 @12:37PM (#40518087)

    I have a feeling that history will repeat itself and we will discover that there are more sub-particles to find and we will need 100X more power to see them....

    The Atom that was the smallest particle at one time...

    Then Protons, Electrons and Neutrons followed as the basic building blocks of matter...

    Now we have the standard model with its various families particles.

    We might be at the end of our math and there is more to discover once the math catches up.. It may be the last major discovery because we have everything fully described.. I just don't think we have enough information to know how this will go.

    • by Zocalo (252965)
      Pretty much a given, I'd say, only your 100X might be off by several orders of magnitude. And then some. Check out this Shockwave animation [], and observe the whole heap of unknown waiting to be filled in between quantum foam and the smallest known particle to date; the neutrino at ~1 yoctometer (10^-24 meters).
    • by bazorg (911295)

      yes, but at that point we'll be able to see the turtles neatly stacked up.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Monday July 02, 2012 @12:45PM (#40518167)

    ...but scientists haven't done a good job explaining this for the laymen. I'm an armchair science enthusiast and I have never been able to figure out what the heck this particle is, besides ash from a high-speed collision.

    • by Prune (557140)

      Layman's explanation of QM: []

      • by Prune (557140)
        Bah, I should have been more specific: it's an explanation of QM that actually makes sense while being understandable to an intelligent layman.
  • I lied. (Score:5, Funny)

    by (245670) on Monday July 02, 2012 @04:08PM (#40520653)

    I picked Disneyland because that sounds like fun but I'll probably do the same things I always do.

  • by dicobalt (1536225) on Monday July 02, 2012 @05:21PM (#40521459)
    ... but he sure puts Waldo to shame.
  • Peter Higgs is my PhD supervisor's PhD supervisor's PhD supervisor.

    Just sayin'.

  • I was going to make a sacrificial offering to Cowboy Neal.

  • I'm more interested in Higg's Bosom [].
  • After I teleport to Disneyland I'll take their Jedi training course with real light sabers.
  • ... be able to get rid of all those copies of Rheya that keep popping up.

    [Extra mod points to whoever gets that bit of trivia.]

  • I had taken this whole "any second now"... nonsense to mean that actually they made a mistake somewhere and actually it doesn't quiet work out the way they thought.

  • Will understanding the effect allows us to manipulate the Higgs interaction so we can change the mass of large things?

    Yes, I am talking about flying cars, Jet packs(not actual jets) artificial gravity, and interstellar flight..or at least 'quick' interplanetary flight.

  • I don't really understand what is the idea of announcing that you are going to make a very important announcement without saying anything about the contents of the announcement while almost everybody can guess what the announcement is going to be about. They are doing this over and over again. Why not simply state: Yes we have found good evidence for the existence of the Higgs bosom and tomorrow we are going to share the results in detail. In that way the general public knows all it needs to know and the sc
  • by physburn (1095481) on Tuesday July 03, 2012 @07:30PM (#40535677) Homepage Journal
    To explain why the decay rates for the Higgs aren't the same as the standard model prediction.
  • by k6mfw (1182893) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @03:05PM (#40555329)
    ... but will observe in another country where big things are built to pursue big science while providing opportunities for PhD candidates, projects for engineers, and various jobs for techs.

There's no such thing as a free lunch. -- Milton Friendman


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