The Higgs-like particle makes its way to peer review

It takes 98 total pages and two different research papers to describe the discovery of the particle that CERN scientists believe is probably the Higgs Boson. The papers have now been submitted to peer review. But, if insanely dense physics research is your idea of good August beach read, you can check out both in their entirety now on arXiv.


  1. Timely news today from one of the Higgs hunting teams at the LHC – the level of certainty that the Higgs exists has gone from between Sigma 4.9  and Sigma 5 in early July, to Sigma 5.9 in early August.

    Sigma 5 means that there’s a 1-in-2,000,000 (two million) chance that results were a statistical blip and the Higgs does not exist, while Sigma 5.9 decreases the odds to 1-in-3o0,000,000 (three hundred million).

    Put another way,
    Sigma 5:  1,999,999-to-2,000,000 odds that the Higgs does exist,
    Sigma 5.9:  299,999,999-to-300,000,000 odds that the Higgs does exist.

    Talk about even money.

  2. The problem with saying “5-sigma significance means a 1/2,000,000 chance the particle doesn’t exist” is that it assume that all the errors are Gaussian, or a “Bell-Curve” shape.  This works for some kind of experimental uncertainties, but others, like physics models or specific pieces of equipment, have a very Non-Gaussian shape.

    The physics community decided that “3-sigma is evidence for a particle” and “5-sigma is discovery of a particle” without assigning probabilities for this reason.  You won’t really hear any CERN physicist mention probability, except maybe to explain the scales of evidence to the public.  

    I’m not saying its bad.  5.9 sigma is very significant evidence, and the sigma probability assignments are good to show the scales of certainty involved, but its slightly more complex.

  3. It’s only about 50 pages total of actual content, the rest being references, acknowledgments, etc.

    That’s still a lot, of course :) 

    I looked through the papers a bit just to see if I could understand any of it, and I think that actually anyone who is scientifically inclined should be able to get something out of reading these papers. In particular you really just need to read the introduction (which gives a nice overview without getting too technical) and the conclusion.

    Most scientific papers you really just need to read the abstract, glance at the figures, and read the conclusion. It’s important for the rest of the stuff to be there, but nonessential to actually read in most cases. In this case, since most of us don’t have strong backgrounds in particle physics, the introduction is necessary to read.

    My perspective on this is warped, admittedly, since I’ve read hundreds of scientific papers (that’s what grad students spend most of their time doing). But I don’t think most intelligent people will have too much trouble :)

  4. 125 years after the ‘Michelson–Morley experiment’ there is finally proof that there IS an Aether, although not ‘luminiferous’. 

    This NEW Aether field that can give mass to particles (Higgs-mechanism), could also be what’s generating the *effects* of Dark Matter, and Dark Energy which is considered to be a fluid that permeates throughout all of space with a positive energy density and a negative, outward-pushing pressure.

    Even Einstein proposed a NEW Aether shortly after presenting GR:

    “Thus, once again ,,empty” space appears as endowed with physical properties, i.e., no longer as physically empty, as seemed to be the case according to Special Relativity. One can thus say that the Aether is resurrected in the General theory of Relativity, though in a more sublimated form.”

    A. Einstein, Grundgedanken und Methoden der Relativitatstheorie in ihrer Entwicklung dargestellt, (Morgan Manuscript) Einstein Archives 2070.

Comments are closed.