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Comment: Re:Is it higgsy? (Score 1) 170

I do not understand the latter part of your question, but the first part is easy:

The mathematical procedure employed in the tests is exactly the same for all experiments that we do. They even had to be agreed upon among the two large LHC experiments (ATLAS and CMS) in discussions that took in excess of months to pin down all details.

Now, on the other hand, the data that is used is different (i.e. we get different views from different selections made to the data, some selecting b quarks, others W bosons, others, photons, etc), the teams of people are different, the software platform are different, the hardware in the experiments is different, the organizational structures are different, the collisions are different, etc, etc.

Since so much is different and independent, and that all results point in one direction (namely that the probability that the observation in data can be due to what we already know is smaller than 1 in 3 million) gives us a lot of confidence in the claim.

Comment: Re:Is it higgsy? (Score 1) 170

The Higgs field (and therefore its corresponding particle) has a fundamental role in electroweak symmetry breaking. That means that the way it relates to W and Z bosons cannot be too different from what is expected from the existing Standard Model (SM). Failure to fulfill that requirement would immediately point towards physics beyond the SM.

So, now we start the painstaking work of trying to characterize every single facet of this particle. The most immediate ones are: its mass, its spin and parity, and its relation with other particles. This is done with respect to the SM predictions and if anything deviates, then we have to see if some other model explains that deviation in a reasonable way (reasonable is defined according to Occam's Razor).

Comment: Re:Open Data? (Score 1) 170

Science can be crowd-sourced to some extent. But the amount of data here is simply huge. As someone pointed out, we start with something like PB/s and get it down to PB/year. So, putting out a torrent is not really the way to go. Then there is the fact that the data does not remain the sole property of the "collectors". Eventually they are published. And you say "but I can't get the journal articles..." but you are wrong. High Energy Physics has had an Open Access philosophy even before Open Access was invented and all of the published LHC experiment journal articles can only be submitted to journals that will provide them free of cost. Finally, CERN is very involved in the preservation of data from previous experiments so that people (and here we mean everyone, not just the "collectors") can re-analyze it. Those data are highly distilled, benefitting from decades of expertise and calibration so that they can be used more widely. In fact, some data are even made available for the EPPOG physics masterclasses so that high school students get dirty with real data.

But come on, if you can't even get the applet going...

Comment: Re:The Best of the Worst Science Reporting? (Score 1) 170

That's more than one question...

1 - Stupidest thing: Star Trek teleporters; I wish! (I am a big TNG Trekkie.)
2 - Made me laugh: the notion that this is the final word on the Higgs boson, while we are still at the stage that it is a neutral boson with a lot of mass (for the record, 125 GeV/c^2 ~ 133 times the proton mass, not 125...).
3 - Same old press... The reporting was in general (read, the median) quite good. But there are always exceptions (read, long tails).

Comment: Re:This may sound really dumb but.... (Score 1) 170

It's actually a pretty simple answer: the particle that we now found is so massive that the energy needed to prick it out from its slumber is very large.
Think of the the Higgs field as the surface of a lake. The Higgs particle would be the drops that detach from the surface when you throw a stone in. Regardless of the surface of the lake, the size of the stone that you need to throw in (collision energy) in order to get some splash (particles) depends on the density of the lake's contents (the field).

Bottom line: the Higgs lake is pretty dense such that only with huge stones can we get a splash out of it.

+ - DVD to NAS to tablet: how to do it? 1

Submitted by andre.david
andre.david (1373517) writes "We have two toddlers learning 3 languages: mine, my wife's, and our common language.
Since I am not home during the day, my wife shows some DVD titles to them in my language.
It's becoming cumbersome to load the DVD: we have no TV, so this uses up her laptop's screen...
So I was wondering if anyone had already gone through the process of ripping the DVD to some digital format, put it in a NAS and then the kids can themselves watch it in a tablet.
Given my setup at home there are 3 items that need to align properly:
1) ripping the DVD to some file format using a Mac (Hanbrake?)
2) streaming it from Western Digital My Book World Edition that is using FeaturePacks (Twonky?) and
3) and a streaming client for the iPad2 (no idea!)."

Comment: Re:Roundabouts (Score 1) 299

by andre.david (#39089025) Attached to: Avoiding Red Lights By Booking Ahead

[...] those countries where roundabouts are common. Oh, wait, that would be NOWHERE. Even in the EU where everyone sings the praises of Roundabouts they are RARE.

Though I agree that roundabout-ifying the US is not feasible, your last statement is plainly WRONG: off the top of my counting, I see at least 12 in http://g.co/maps/cnqxz and http://g.co/maps/hd9jk .

Comment: Re:Physics (Score 1) 99

by andre.david (#38324134) Attached to: LHC To Narrow Search For Higgs Boson

The positive spin is that "this is exciting because now there are fewer places to look."

You call that spin? I call it scientific advance. Is there anything else you can do with science other than exclude hypothesis? Before the LHC, the Higgs boson could not exist below 114 (let me gloss over the units) nor between 150 to 170 or so.

The last results from the LHC excluded it from 140 to more than 500. That means that any theory predicting a Higgs boson in that range just went out the window.

Let's see what comes up on the 13th.

Comment: Re:Physics (Score 5, Insightful) 99

by andre.david (#38320168) Attached to: LHC To Narrow Search For Higgs Boson

For instance, what if the effect we attribute to a particle is responsible when hundreds of particles interact in aggregate? Maybe this is all being handled, but one particle to rule them all seems like it is an idea out of fantasy.

We understand different things at different levels. And when we do not have some fundamental understanding, we build what we call effective theories. It may very well be that the Higgs boson is composed of other particles. Even if it is, this entity has a role in interactions, which is not diminished whether it is composite or fundamental.

Take the atom. It was indivisible for a long long time. Then we figured out there was a nucleus, 99.9% empty space and electrons. Then the nucleus turned out to have protons and neutrons. And then it turned out that protons and neutrons are made of quarks and gluons.

At each level, we can have a working tool that explains to a good level of accuracy what is happening at that level. Take the example of gravity: Newton's laws work for 99% of what we do. There is no need to go for Special or General Relativity until you really consider gravity in scales which are not human: galaxies, etc.

So, no one is looking for a particle to rule them all. And no one is claiming that we have finally reached a final understanding of matter. Or energy.
In fact, finding the Higgs boson predicted by the Standard Model would fill in a piece in the puzzle, but not finish all puzzles.

Comment: Re:Source for the bizarre CERN-mania today? (Score 1) 99

by andre.david (#38319912) Attached to: LHC To Narrow Search For Higgs Boson

So what's the news here? If you exclude it from range X, doesn't that still leave ranges Y and Z and the potential for not finding it at all? What's new?

Well, consider the problem of where can planets be with respect to their star and still sustain life as we know it. It's narrow: too close, too hot; too far, too cold.
The fact that there is a range left can gives you big insights into what the physical world has to look like just because the Higgs cannot be in a given range (or we would have seen it).

More generally, this is the only thing science can actually do: reject hypothesis. We are always left with some possibilities. But we progress by discarding possibilities that are not realized in Nature.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: A guinea pig is not from Guinea but a rodent from South America.

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