Besides the Daily Mail, the AP is now reporting Proof of “God Particle” Found. They include the caveat:
But after decades of work and billions of dollars spent, researchers at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, aren’t quite ready to say they’ve “discovered” the particle…
Senior CERN scientists say that the two independent teams of physicists who plan to present their work at CERN’s vast complex on the Swiss-French border on July 4 are about as close as you can get to a discovery without actually calling it one…
Rob Roser, who leads the search for the Higgs boson at the Fermilab in Chicago, said: “Particle physicists have a very high standard for what it takes to be a discovery,” and he thinks it is a hair’s breadth away.
which suggests that neither CMS nor ATLAS have quite managed to reach the 5 sigma threshold, and CERN remains dedicated to not discussing the obvious result of combining the data.
The AP report also has:
CERN spokesman James Gillies said Monday, however, that he would be “very cautious” about unofficial combinations of ATLAS and CMS data. “Combining the data from two experiments is a complex task, which is why it takes time, and why no combination will be presented on Wednesday,” he told AP.
From everything I’ve heard, my impression is that the reason no official combination is being produced is not because it would be technically impossible to do so on a time-scale of days, but because the decision not to do such a combination for ICHEP was made for reasons described here. The problem with this is that it may lead to a lot of confusing explanations like this in the AP report, which muddles how particle physics experiments are done and the obscure issue of 5 sigma/experiment or in combination:
experts familiar with the research at CERN’s vast complex on the Swiss-French border say that the massive data they have obtained will essentially show the footprint of the key particle known as the Higgs boson — all but proving it exists — but doesn’t allow them to say it has actually been glimpsed…
Roser compared the results that scientists are preparing to announce Wednesday to finding the fossilized imprint of a dinosaur: “You see the footprints and the shadow of the object, but you don’t actually see it.”
Better for CERN to just announce discovery and break open the champagne…
Update: Weird. The AP seems to have changed their title from “Proof” to “Evidence”. This may be the first time in history that a media headline about particle physics is incorrectly pessimistic (“Evidence” usually means a 3-sigma signal, which existed last December, “Proof” would be a better way to describe a 5+ sigma signal, if that’s what the combined CMS/ATLAS data shows).
Update: Curiouser and curiouser. I’m hearing that per-experiment combinations are around 5 sigma or above. Very unclear why the AP report is indicating no completely conclusive discovery announcement. Maybe the CERN administration is playing a game with us, downplaying expectations…
Update: As pointed out in a comment, Matthew Chalmers at Nature has
The ATLAS and CMS experiments are each seeing signals between 4.5 and 5 sigma, just a whisker away from a solid discovery claim.
Update: The Atlantic covers the best blogs you should be reading to follow the Higgs story. They miss Resonaances and a few others. About me, they have:
If the Higgs boson was a dead celebrity, Woit would be your TMZ — first to the scene, first to break it, and have it be right.
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