The latest Higgs non-news is that there is news about when there will be news. The Scientific Policy Committee at CERN will meet on December 12 and 13, with the agenda for December 13 featuring a 15 min presentation by the CERN Director-General on “CERN plans for communications on the Higgs boson search at the LHC” in the morning. This will be followed in the afternoon by a public event including half-hour updates on the SM Higgs searches from each of the experiments, and a “joint public discussion” about what it all means.
Before the LHC I tended to be 50/50 on the odds for a SM Higgs vs. no SM Higgs. As data has come out during the past year, and rumors have arrived in recent months, my take on these odds has gone back and forth. First it looked like maybe there was a 140 GeV Higgs, then not. Then I was hearing that nothing was being seen by either experiment, followed by rumors about something being seen by one, but not the other, making a SM Higgs start to look unlikely. Lately though, I’m starting to hear that maybe both experiments are seeing something in the Higgs to gamma-gamma channel. Is it at the same mass? What’s the statistical significance if you combine the results? Looks like we’ll hear about this on December 13 (unless someone leaks the news to a blogger first…).
For now, I’m back to 50/50. According to the latest Higgs coverage in the New York Times, back in 2005 Frank Wilczek was willing to give 10/1 odds in favor of the Higgs (although he wants a SUSY version), at least if the stakes were in Nobel chocolate coins.
Update: This month’s Physics World has a long article by Matthew Chalmers (not available free online I think, see here) about the search for SUSY. In includes details about David Gross’s SUSY bet (with Ken Lane):
SUSY is “alive and well” according to the Nobel-prize-winning physicist David Gross of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, who helped to create quantum chromodynamics – the theory of the strong
force. “People shouldn’t pay too much attention to the bounds now because it’s signals that matter,” he told Physics World. “When will I give up on SUSY? I have a serious bet with Ken Lane that it will be found after 50
inverse femtobarns [of data],” he says.
The LHC won’t accumulate that amount of data until quite a while after it comes back up at or near design energy in 2014. So, it looks like Gross won’t have to pay off his gambling debts until 2015 or so.
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