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Higgs boson’s existence stands at 2.2 sigmas, but 3 sigmas is needed for it to be considered a new particle

tevatron accelerator/DOE, Fermi

And five sigmas for a discovery.

From “Elusive Higgs Boson May Nearly Be Cornered” (ScienceDaily, Mar. 7, 2012), we learn,

Physicists from the CDF and DZero collaborations found excesses in their data that might be interpreted as coming from a Higgs boson with a mass in the region of 115 to 135 GeV. In this range, the new result has a probability of being due to a statistical fluctuation at level of significance known among scientists as 2.2 sigma. This new result also excludes the possibility of the Higgs having a mass in the range from 147 to 179 GeV.

Physicists claim evidence of a new particle only if the probability that the data could be due to a statistical fluctuation is less than 1 in 740, or three sigmas. A discovery is claimed only if that probability is less than 1 in 3.5 million, or five sigmas.

This result sits well within the stringent constraints established by earlier direct and indirect measurements made by CERN’s Large Hadron Collider, the Tevatron, and other accelerators, which place the mass of the Higgs boson within the range of 115 to 127 GeV. These findings are also consistent with the December 2011 announcement of excesses seen in that range by LHC experiments, which searched for the Higgs in different decay patterns. None of the hints announced so far from the Tevatron or LHC experiments, however, are strong enough to claim evidence for the Higgs boson.

The main thing at this point is to stay admirably honest, in an age when many think that science is compatible with lies. Here’s Peter (“Not Even Wrong”) Woit’s view.


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