I woke up this morning to find out that a new Higgs particle which could explain dark matter has been discovered, in a table-top experiment at Boston College. For some of the news stories about this, see here and here. Wikipedia now has an entry for this that explains:
The Axial Higgs boson is a fundamental particle whose discovery was announced by American researchers in Nature on June 8, 2022.
Of course this is complete nonsense. The paper Nature just published (the preprint is here) is about a condensed matter experiment that has nothing at all to do with the Higgs (effective fields in a description of a condensed matter system have nothing to do with fundamental fields).
Who is responsible for misleading the public and discrediting science with this kind of behavior?
- The authors, who begin their abstract with
The observation of the Higgs boson solidified the standard model of particle physics. However, explanations of anomalies (for example, dark matter) rely on further symmetry breaking, calling for an undiscovered axial Higgs mode.
which has nothing to do with the result in their paper.
- The editors and referees at Nature, who should never have allowed such an abstract.
- Boston College, which put out this press release, which starts out:
Chestnut Hill, Mass. (6/8/2022) – An interdisciplinary team led by Boston College physicists has discovered a new particle
In this case another institution, Oak Ridge, put out a much more responsible press release for the same paper, showing how to do this properly.
Universities desperately want to see this kind of story in the press, and there’s rarely any downside for the scientists and PR people who produce bogus such stories. Boston College needs to take action to retract the press release and make sure this doesn’t happen again. Nature should also take action to issue a correction stating this paper has nothing at all to do with the Higgs field and address the bad editing and refereeing that led to this.
Update: At least the Wikipedia article has been fixed.
Update: More physicists spreading hype about this here.
Update: The Higgs hype has been extended to add quantum computing hype, see Newly-Observed Higgs Mode Holds Promise in Quantum Computing, and the Wikipedia article now includes this new, extra hype.