Higgs Discovery Announcement July 4

I learned via Physics World that CERN will hold a press conference on Wednesday July 4 to give an “Update on the search for the Higgs Boson”. More information has just appeared (including a press release here), showing that there will be a 2 hour seminar on the results starting at 9am Geneva time, followed by a press conference at 11am.

Reports from the experiments indicate that at least one of them, if not both, will reach the 5 sigma level of significance for the Higgs signal, when they combine 2011 and 2012 data and the most sensitive channels. So, this will definitely be the long-awaited Higgs discovery announcement, and party-time for HEP physicists.

One could note that the last major announcement of the discovery of a new elementary particle at CERN was also made on a Wednesday, July 4, back in 1984. That one didn’t work out so well, but things are very different now, with results from two independent experiments and a high standard of evidence.

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31 Responses to Higgs Discovery Announcement July 4

  1. Stan says:

    What particle was announced on July 4, 1984?

  2. Peter Woit says:

    The top quark, with a mass of about 40 GeV. Only problem is that the top quark really has a mass of about 173 GeV….

  3. Long-time follower of HEP/Not Even Wrong here: A bit ahead of the news, unless you know more, Peter! (Because the press “ad” really says “update on Higgs search”.)

  4. Peter Woit says:

    Thanks Alfons,

    There are some blogs out there with a policy of only discussing news approved by the relevant authorities. Not this one….

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  6. Christian Takacs says:

    Please don’t clobber me with criticism if I sound uninformed about this… but… though I do see all these articles, charts and graphs indicating something (large particle?) may have been found, I do not see anything (outside of a desire to find the Higgs) to indicate this IS the Higgs particle, nor do I see any explanation of how this will be demonstrated if a particle IS discovered. I would also ask, Isn’t the Higgs boson/particle’s existence based on the Standard Model’s assumption that mass is granted, imparted, or virtually assigned by said particle? I just seem to be seeing lots of “There are indications of something there, if confirmed, it’s the Higgs particle” statements. I see no mention of “What if it’s just a newly discovered particle which is not the Higgs”. I would just have thought they would first want to confirm that something was found, THEN go about some method to find out if the particle passes some falsifiable testing procedure for confirming it works as advertised.

  7. Peter Woit says:


    The Standard Model makes extremely detailed predictions about exactly what Higgs decays should look like, and the LHC experiments are carefully tuned to look for exactly these predicted signals. What they are seeing is exactly what they were looking for (with the interesting caveat that the production rate may be higher than expected, but that calculation is hard).

    So, either this is the Higgs, or if it’s something different, you have to explain why it is doing precisely what the Higgs was supposed to do. Anyway, the big effort from now on will be trying to more precisely measure the properties of this signal to compare to the SM prediction.

  8. Anonyrat says:

    Continuing to subvert science, I see :)

  9. Eastender says:

    So who gets the Nobel prize ………

  10. SilverSB says:

    What will happen 4th of Jully is just the HEP will become less interesting. LHC is built to catch a Higgs, everything else would be a bonus (if the Nature is kind enough to throw at us hints for supersymmetry or dark matter at home-made energies – something I really doubt). So, yeah, the higgs is there. We have just saw the final battle in the first 5 minutes of the movie. How anticlimatic…

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  13. emile says:

    SilverSB: your are not 5 min. into the movie. The movie has been going on for decades… If a Higgs is confirmed, then I don’t blame you from thinking that this would be anticlimactic. But if I’ve learned anything, it’s that Nature doesn’t care what we think.

  14. crandles says:

    So is pay $7 now to get $10 back if/when a paper is published in 2012 claiming a 5 sigma discovery a good bet?

    Or is there too much chance that paper will wait for more information from different decay channels, and others hints of consistency with being a Higgs Boson and then be subjected to much scrutiny in peer review so that paper may not be published until 2013?

    Or is there too much risk that judge will read a paper saying there is 5 sigma discovery of particle that is consistent with Higgs Boson as not being sufficient to say particle is the Higgs Boson? (If such a paper isn’t sufficient, will anything ever be sufficient? and is that sufficient to ensure judge will decide that such a paper is sufficient?)

    (Rules say “Confirmation of the Higgs Boson particle having been observed must be published in a major scientific journal for this contract to be expired.

    Clarification (Jan 5th 2009): for the Higgs Boson particle to be “observed” there must be a “five sigma discovery” of the particle.”)

    BTW, there isn’t much liquidity on this bet at intrade.com: 37 * US $7 is only pay US $ 259 to get US $370 less US $5 per month in fees less and bank/other fees for money transfers. Also by the time someone new to intrade gets that money into their intrade account, the opportunity might be gone. So probably not worth effort and risk for someone new to intrade.

    (Now why do I suspect that Christian Takacs is an intrade trader?)

  15. SilverSB says:

    The LHC movie was decades in making, but only two years in playing. The Higgs is coming too soon, but the things are what they are.
    Sure, Nature doesn’t care what we think and what we want – it’s not something we learned. It’s something most people should understand.

  16. christian M says:

    Hi there,
    Nice and happy news.

    Just one comment/question.
    We find allmost everywhere the misleading information that the Higgs boson gives mass. That is untrue in my opinion.
    The Higgs boson is the trace left by something which gives mass. But not the boson itself. The scalar field responsible for giving mass has four degrees of freedom, three of which give mass to the W and Z. The fourth degree does not do anything. That’s the Higgs boson. It is the remnant of this process. It’s just an excitation mode of the scalar field, but it is the latter which gives mass.
    That does not mean that it is not important to find the Higgs. It’s like finding a trace left in the sand by a dinosaur : it proves that the dinosaurs existed.

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  18. DB says:

    The Higgs will be the first fundamental boson discovered whose spin is not equal to 1. And the mass of 125GeV makes the building of a muon collider to probe the properties of the Higgs in fine detail a no-brainer. It also raises serious questions over the need for the CLIC upgrades to the LHC.

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  20. Henry Bolden says:

    I’m hearing from someone (who does not wish to be named) who heard from someone else at the Perimeter Institute (whose name was not revealed to me) that the announcement on July 4 involves a Higgs which is NOT a Standard Model Higgs. Anyone else hearing this?

  21. Speculative says:


    I’d be wary of anyone who is saying right now that we know the Higgs they’re seeing is beyond the Standard Model. It will take a lot of careful measurements before we know for sure. If there is something about this particle that distinguishes it significantly from the SM Higgs that would certainly be very interesting and it might not even be the Higgs. My attitude is that we’ll just have to wait and see until July 4th when more official data is released.

  22. Anonyrat says:

    It is time for corporate sponsorship, e.g., just like the MetLife Stadium, or the Citi Bank Arena, we could have corporations have naming rights on particles, such as the Disney Strange, the Dow-Jones Up, the Balenciaga Top, the Huggies Higgs. The proceeds of the sponsorships would go to support impecunious Superstringers, who promise to bring a whole lot of new particles and hence sponsorship opportunities, to the table. At least it would give some motivation for research. Some names might be already taken, such as Selectron Technologies’ Selectron. Political parties might jump into the fray, such as the G.O.P. Dilaton. Social groups might enter the bidding too, such as the LGBT Spartner. The possibilities are limitless, we could further distinguish particles in different superstring vacua. With 10^500 possibilities, there will be enough for sponsorship by all the conceivable corporations the visible universe will ever contain. Hell, we can give each corporation sponsorship of an entire universe, why just a measly elementary particle?

  23. Tony Smith says:

    If the thing at 125 GeV “is NOT a Standard Model Higgs”
    can they distinguish it from a non-Higgs particle such as for example
    a technipion like that proposed by Eichten, Lane, Martin, and Pilon
    in arXiv 1206.0186 (in the context of the CDF Wjj bump) ?

    If it is not so distinguishable (and therefore not clearly any kind of Higgs),
    then what should they call it ?


  24. Peter Woit says:


    The signal seen in 2011 was already larger than the SM prediction (with large errors). The rumor that this year’s gamma-gamma signal is of similar size indicates that when they announce discovery next week, the size of the signal seen will not only be more than 5 sigma away from null, but also larger than the SM prediction.

    There will be signals though in multiple channels: gamma-gamma, as well as ZZ to 4 leptons. The size of the signal is the product of the Higgs cross section x branching ratio. Whatever is observed, undoubtedly there will be dozens of theory papers promoting models supposedly explaining it. I’d love to hear from a Higgs phenomenologist about how good the SM Higgs cross-section calculation is, and what to look for in terms of deviations of the the signal sizes from the nominal SM predictions.

    Maybe someone can convince Matt Strassler to stop complaining about what the recent NY Times article said about what nothing being seen would mean (which is irrelevant), and write instead about this.

  25. paddy says:

    Not unusually you have hit the nail on the head–the things I have been wondering–and 3 times I might add:
    (1) there are apparently hints of SM discrepancies in branching ratios–when does this become signficant?;
    (2) uninitiated hep-ph folks like I would like to know the SM calculational “error bars” for such [fully of course realizing that the experimental notion of an error bar does not really apply]; and
    (3) [at the risk of an understandably deletable ad hominem comment] I for one cannot fathom what particular axe MS has chosen to grind (this time).

  26. Anonyrat says:

    See table 6 on page 27 of the above.

  27. Seth Thatcher says:

    A Higgs boson walks into a bar….mass exodus.

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  29. Martin says:

    Yay, we’ve got a particle! Let’s just hope, it won’t turn into a difraction pattern when we stop talking about it :)