Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Discovery of the Maikel boson!!!

Oops, I just noticed that I never published this post, I'm very sorry!!!

There was so much excitation during these days of the Maikel boson discovery that I could not cope with that :D

I don't remember what I was meant to say but I put here some representative slides of the event. First one is one of the typical ATLAS slides, with very professional nice contrasting colors (sorry if watching them just made your eyes to bleed of pain) and their typical clear and professional Comic Sans font, that makes you feel like if you were reading a fun magazine rather than one of the most important science achievements of all time. Well, I will dedicate a main article only to comic sans so I will just comment about their nice result of 5.0 sigma significance!!

The second slide is a typical slide from the competing experiment, CMS, with nothing major to mock about and getting a similar result, taking into account that used totally different detector, software and people, so it is a good cross check. Worth to notice that the CMS result shown is a combination of all possible Higgs decay channels while the ATLAS one was just combining their best ones, so you cannot really compare both results.

 Finally I will just show a picture of how did probably Higgs feel during the presentation :) Actually, he was crying of emotion several times...

Exciting times at CERN!!! But, as CERN Director General said, we are not yet sure that this is the Higgs Boson predicted by our quantum physics theory (called Standard Model) but if it is not, it should be its twin brother, because it looks pretty much the same :)

Also, I want to make clear what does that 5.0 significance number means. I will show it with this nice picture that someone sent around :)

The way this works is: we find lots of particles decaying in different ways, and we expect a lot of noise coming from similar particles decaying in similar ways. Then we make simulation models to predict how many particles we would see in case we really had Higgs boson and in case we did not, and then we compare with what we detected. 5.0 significance just means that we found many more decay result particles than in case that Higgs boson did not existed, in the way that we are mathematically 99.999% sure that such extra particles are not just a lucky coincidence (called technically: 'statistical fluctuation').

And now many people would say "yeah, but I don't give a shit; that seems totally useless and a waste of money", similar to what many people said regarding electricity, lasers, microwaves, nuclear energy and so on (when the theories related to these were discovered). Imagine!! Scientists are just starting now to imagine new inventions that will come soon from knowing the correct equations of the quantum mechanics!!! I am not an expert on that topic but if the Higgs boson is the responsible of giving mass, will be able in the future to remove or add mass to stuff?? Space travel? Waste reduction? Loosing weight so getting slimmer and sexy in no time? Well, I guess not anytime soon, but surely we will find lots of indirect uses!! Also, when Einstein proved the photoelectric effect, he probably could not imagine that it would be used in the future for solar panels, opening the door of the elevator or flush the men's toilet in public bathrooms...


  1. Very nice post,Maikel, well written, serious and funny. Or the other way round.

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