This Week’s Leak

Recently there was a bit of a kerfuffle triggered by someone leaking here the abstract of an internal ATLAS document claiming to have found a Higgs signal as a bump in the gamma-gamma invariant mass distribution. After some initial discussion of this, I wrote:

Best guess seems to be that this is either a hoax, or something that will disappear on further analysis.

It quickly became clear this was not a hoax, but now there’s a new leak, this one from CMS to New Scientist, which indicates that “disappear on further analysis” is where this is going:

Now physicists working on the LHC’s other main detector, CMS, have come up empty in an initial search for a similar bump in their data, according to a document shown to New Scientist. So ATLAS’s bump may not be due to Higgs particles, after all, but instead down to something mundane, such as an error in the analysis.

The internal CMS document has not been released to the public, so the result is still preliminary, as was the news of the original ATLAS bump, for that matter, which was leaked before it was reviewed or endorsed by the ATLAS collaboration.

Well, maybe first news of the Higgs won’t show up on a blog, but at a more standard journalistic outlet…

Update: Curiouser and curiouser. It seems that there are questions about the existence of the supposed CMS document leaked to New Scientist. In other rumors floating around, while there may not be such a CMS document shooting down this signal, there really is an ATLAS one, soon to see the light of day. In any case, there are no rumors I’m aware of that there’s any confirmation of the original signal.

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19 Responses to This Week’s Leak

  1. Peter Woit says:


    Yes, but that was just a rumor, this is a leak…

  2. Mike says:


    The link in the update you’ve added “This Week’s Rumour” does not work

  3. Peter Woit says:

    Thanks Mike, fixed.

    That was a link to the Resonaances posting mentioned here by tulpoeid.

  4. tulpoeid says:

    Oh ok, to be honest I didn’t realize at first they claimed to have seen an official document. Now that it’s clear, I still believe it’s a rumor.

  5. Bernhard says:

    It seems nobody in CMS is willing to comment on this. I think it’s likely that either the journalist made it up or what he claims to be a “document” is not even a CMS memo, just a piece of paper that someone in CMS have showed to him, (if one wants to believe he is not being dishonest).

  6. DB says:

    Dorigo doesn’t pull any punches. He states: “I think that the New Scientist reporter made this up. Yep, that’s what I think, and I challenge him to prove otherwise.”

    As Dorigo is a member of CMS, that carries some weight.

  7. lun says:

    There is a very nice blog-post about this whole matter, and physics leaks in general. Unfortunately, it is in Italian, but perhaps google translate does an acceptable job:

  8. rummy says:

    This is all really a pathetic display of how everybody and his pet dog has to report rumours and counter-rumours or else get left out of the feeding frenzy. Honest scientists painstakingly working on a difficult analysis cannot do their work properly without everyone peering over their shoulders and gossiping.

    Like me.

  9. Peter Woit says:


    Consider the feeding frenzy just as evidence that people are very interested in what you’re doing, so it must be worthwhile. Much of the world goes to work every day and does difficult, painstaking things that no one cares about. So, enjoy it while it lasts….

  10. Shantanu says:

    Peter something else to blog about is the COGENT result present at the STSCI symposium (which I am watching live now) and it will soon be archived on the web. what do you and others think?

  11. Peter Woit says:


    My impression is that the COGENT results are just marginally statistically significant, and possibly inconsistent with CDMS/XENON100, so not worth getting excited about. But I’m not a dark matter expert, so to get an informed opinion about this, best to go elsewhere. The people at Science magazine just told me about a a program by Adrian Cho talking to dark matter experts this afternoon, which might be interesting, see here:

  12. nessuno says:

    Could it be that the CMS document is too atrocious to be made public?

  13. chris says:

    Peter, I think rummy indicated that he is gosipping, not doing the hard work 🙂

  14. Bernhard says:

    In the meantime, Fermilab is willing to die fighting:

    “As we look at these huge data sets that we’ve acquired over the 10 years, we’re now putting out things that we’ve learned about that data,” he said. “And so what you’re seeing here is evidence for perhaps a new particle and there will be other things that will come out over the coming months that will be just as interesting as this.”

    I´m puzzled what evidence Roser is refering to (perhaps the 3-sigma CDF paper?).

  15. New Scientist was sent a 46-page powerpoint presentation by the CMS Higgs group outlining the search for a Higgs to gamma gamma decay that was conducted 21-27 April.
    Valerie Jamieson, New Scientist deputy features editor

  16. Bernhard says:

    Meaning the “document” was indeed NOT even a CMS memo, just an internal presentation, not reviewed nor endorsed by CMS, since we can assume this was not a public presentation. But OK, a genuine leak then.

  17. I should clarify my comment above. The presentation by the CMS Higgs group was sent anonymously to New Scientist, and not by the CMS Higgs group.

  18. tommaso says:

    By writing
    “The internal CMS document has not been released to the public”
    in their piece, NS made it look like it was a paper draft. If these are powerpoint slides the matter is different. Although their stating in more detail what they were sent does not prove anything, I will admit that it makes them more credible, especially since the author is now backed up by the editor.

    In the end, I am only concerned that now nobody will take my $1000 bet, alas.


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