In “Higgs boson-like particle discovery claimed at LHC” ( BBC News , July 4, 2012) Paul Rincon reports that the CERN Large Hadron Collider team have decided on a cautious formula:
Cern scientists reporting from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have claimed the discovery of a new particle consistent with the Higgs boson.
The particle has been the subject of a 45-year hunt to explain how matter attains its mass.
Both of the Higgs boson-hunting experiments at the LHC see a level of certainty in their data worthy of a “discovery”.
More work will be needed to be certain that what they see is a Higgs, however.
A key issue is that – by their own standards, however they came to set them – they cannot quite claim what they would like to:
They claimed that by combining two data sets, they had attained a confidence level just at the “five-sigma” point – about a one-in-3.5 million chance that the signal they see would appear if there were no Higgs particle.
However, a full combination of the CMS data brings that number just back to 4.9 sigma – a one-in-2 million chance.
Opinions there differ as to whether any changes to the standard model of the physics of the universe are needed.
Note: If you can stand all the ads for tough trucks, here’s “The God particle for dummies.”
See also: We have need of physics beyond the standard model.