back to article CERN: 'New physics starts now'

If people still wore as many hats as formerly, CERN would have seen plenty of caps in the air when the latest Higgs boson results were announced. The LHC data is still shy of certainty: as spokesperson Fabriola Gianotti says in this video, a lot more measurements will be needed, but those measurements are going to concentrate …


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  1. manitoublack

    We're all gonna die

    Seriously however, this is amazing work. Keep it up fellas, and keep us posted.

    Lets just hope Europe falling into the drain will quash spending on this project...

  2. Jonski

    I can't begin to imagine the possibilities

    Being able to manipulate mass in the way we do electricity or light- I wonder if the BOFH would feel the need to replace his magnetic pinch with a bosonic pinch? Mind you, fitting the LHC into a suitcase may be problematic.

    I'm just doubtful we'll see much domestic use out of this research in our lifetimes...

  3. Graham Marsden

    "If people still wore as many hats as formerly"...

    ... So are you saying that people aren't wearing enough hats?

    With apologies to Python (Monty)

  4. 7-zark-7

    So did you ask the CERN boffin....

    ....when we can expect a handheld zero point energy field manipulator? I've just removed a bathroom at home and there's a toilet just asking to be launched at someone.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Higgs boson particle

    I'm not very keen. We've already got one.

    (I told them we already got one!)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      He says they've already got one!

      Well, can we come up and have a look?

  6. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up


    Who needs more?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sold "As Is".

    "The Higgs doesn’t live very long"

    Not all of them. Like the one I have here. Gonna put it on eBay.

  8. Neoc

    At the risk of re-igniting the "black hole" conspiracy-theorist...

    In the midst of the word he was trying to say

    In the midst of his laughter and glee

    CERN had softly and suddenly vanished away

    For the Quark *was* a Boson, you see...

    I'll get my coat now.

    1. Michael Dunn

      One of my favourite poems!

    2. stucs201

      Well that tells us what the new physics is

      Its not the first time that poem has been used for particle physics. Star Trek did it with the Wrath of Khan (book version, I don't think it was in the film). So the new physics: Instant terforming device!

  9. Arkasha
    Thumb Up

    RE: bootnote

    I think you did a great job of explaining it in lay terms. Much better than most other publications where they either give one sentence explanations that tell you nothing, or über-explanations that leave you feeling like your head will explode.

    1. Olafthemighty

      Very true

      Saw a headline about this on the beeb this morning and thought "ah good, El Reg'll do this properly later."

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Great article

    Thanks, that was a really good read.

    Now, if they can just use the results to work out how to negate gravity we can have our flying cars.

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    1. Rentaguru

      We built nuclear bombs before proving experimentally that the neutrino existed?

      Last time I checked my garage bomb plans no neutrinos were required to make it go boom .... enough neutrons but no neutrinos.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Toby 10

      The papers were going to be published anyway

      The papers that show a suggestion of the Higgs boson were going to be published anyway even though they are less than 3 sigma. Nobody has said it's been detected - I'd have thought you, as a scientist would have noticed that - just that the range of energies where it could be have been narrowed and there are some interesting peaks in that area.

      It's exciting not because it's been proven, but because it's looking very much like it will be by the end of next year when they have enough data to go beyond 3 sigma.

      It's a narrative; the hunt is closing in and we'll probably find out for (near-)certain soon. I, for one, find this interesting.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

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    3. stucs201

      re: two brief comments

      >Secondly, “I can’t tell you what new things will come out of the completion of the Standard >Model, but they will be amazing.”

      >Yes, just as soon as all of us can carry a TeV scale accelerator in our pockets

      Why does it have to fit in a pocket to be useful? Unlike many articles around here this one isn't aimed at those who think technology==mobile phone.

      I'd be happy with (for example, not saying its what we'll get or that its even possible) a wormhole generator that took about the same amount of space as Heathrow airport but let you go on holiday to Mars instead of Spain (with an added benefit of not having to eat the inflight 'meal').

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        1. stucs201

          re: facetious

          Fair enough :)

          As for wormholes, I don't expect them either. Just the first thing I thought of which would be useful even if needing a big device and which we don't currently have.

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            1. TeeCee Gold badge

              Great. Now we get to be exterminated by pissed-off aliens covered in sand......

  12. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Unfortunately, the universe may give you the big F.U.

    There may be no "new physics" (and certainly no *usable* new physics) - the Standard Model might be approximately correct (it certainly is not fully correct as it has trouble with neutrino masses for one) up to and exceeding all energies reachable in colliders -- forever.

    You would get the expected Higgs Boson and that's it. No more opening Christmas Boxes. One would be reduced to practicing numerology and group theory in the dark forever (as well as make shocking obedience to small, ruguous and squamous statues depicting the stringy multiverse). There would still be hope for interesting data in astrophysical measurements, maybe.

    But no Minovsky particles or anything. Which is the "desert hypothesis". As possible intro at:

    1. Nigel 11

      Lots of unexplained observations remain.

      We already know lots of stuff outside the standard model.

      Gravity, for a starter. One of the most stunning numbers in physics is 10^38, the ratio of the strength of the Electromagnetic force to the Gravitational one. You don't really understand anything about matter, until you appreciate that the electromagnetic force between an electron and a proton is that many times stronger than the gravitational force between the same.

      Then there's dark matter, inferred from the observed nature of galaxies and the impossibility of binding them gravitationally if what we see is all there is. (There are good theoretical reasons why it can't be lumps of non-luminous ordinary matter, sized somewhere between marbles and Jupiters).

      And "dark energy", needed to explain why the universe appears to be not only expanding but accellerating.

      We might get lucky and spot a particle or three of dark matter in the CERN detectors. (Oddly that may be more likely while the LHC is down than when it's up). Or careful observations of the things we know it can manipulate may help pin down a better theory that in turn will guide our observations. (It's easier to find a needle in a haystack if you come to suspect it may be magnetic).

      And if those neutrinos really are going faster than light, it's time to tear up all the theories and start again.

  13. c4m1k4z3

  14. lk1d

    Thanks for a proper explanation, great article with links that contain the detail. Popular press has been a bit lacking around this story.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well done

    You managed to avoid the apparent temptation of sticking the word "god" in the article.

    Respect for El Reg returns.

    1. Oninoshiko


      you missed the opportunity to piss off an AC. For shame!

  16. Roger Greenwood

    Top article - thanks

    and from the physics standard model link :-

    "I can't remember what they mean anymore, but I can't bear to part with them."

    Should be a line from the BOFH about his children.

  17. Captain Hogwash Silver badge

    How to pronounce boson

    Can anyone here shed some light on this? When it (and other boson particles) first started to be mentioned on science programmes on television, it was pronounced bozon. However, news readers in particular (pun not intended,) have been recently referring to the Higgs boatswain. Which is correct?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How to pronounce boson


      Well it's almost Friday.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      I've never heard a native English speaking physicist pronounce it without a zed in the middle.

      The newsreaders who pronounce it with an 's' are also telling us that this new discovery will produce faster mobile phones and better medical treatments. I think that tells you all you need to know.

      1. Nigel 11


        It's named after Satyendra Nath Bose.

        Unfortunately that doesn't tell us how he pronounced his name. Anyone know the right pronunciation? I'll guess at halfway between English "s" and "z"!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's pronounced...

      ... as if it was the elementary particle that bozos are composed of.

  18. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good rant

      Northerners, haircuts, BBC science reporting, narcissism, Brian Bloody Cox, Kirsty Wark, Emily Maitlis, Newsnight, English degrees and finished off nicely with a non related question aimed at the BBC.

      In just two paragraphs as well, couldn't have done better myself!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "listen to the northern drawl"

      Racist !

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope they are wearing lead underpants in CERN

    So the Higgs weighs about the same as two copper atoms ... and on decay pumps all that energy into two photons? Makes gamma rays look positively puny. What kind of frequency are those photons at? Do they have a name?

    1. Ru


      Gamma rays all the way up. Boring but true.

      1. Nigel 11

        Maybe not so boring

        Can it be gamma rays *all* the way up? At some energy you'd have a photon with more energy than the entire observable universe. Maybe the entire universe, if it's finite. This isn't pedantry at all, if the whole universe did start very small in the big bang.

        Some (exotic, unproved) theories suggest that photons of sufficient energy may travel slower than low-energy light. Slower-thn-light photons, sort of a counterpart to faster-than-light neutrinos? Observations of the next supernova may throw some , er, light on this.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Do they have a name?"

      I'd certainly call them at least "Sir"

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: "Sir"

        It's pair-production, so I imagine one is "Ma'am", given the symmetry requirements.

        1. Chemist

          "given the symmetry requirements."

          I take your point,of course, but I don't see the symmetry if only one has "dangly bits"

  20. mhenriday
    Thumb Up

    Nice post, Richard !

    A minor caveat : you write that «[t]he “signature” that distinguishes a Higgs event from a quark collision is this: the Higgs converts all of its mass – obeying e=mc2 – into energy in the form of the photons; and the colliding quarks have much lower mass». Most quarks, as shown in this table ( are estimated to have masses in the MeV range, or some three orders of magnitude less than that hypothesised for the Higgs boson, but Bottom quarks are in the GeV range, and Top quarks, at an estimated 172 GeV, would actually be more massive than the Higgs boson. In any event, nice work at Cern ; it will be interesting to see if subsequent data will push the degree of confirmation to the desired 5σ....


  21. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "new physics starts now"

    Well I thought 60ns faster than light results might have had some impact....

    Or perhaps the work on could formation being driven by Galactic cosmic ray input.,,,

  22. Tony Paulazzo

    So, in Star Trek, Geordie extrapolates an entire invisible (light phobic?), alien from a holovised photographic shadow mismatch. It were a good ep!

    Brilliant read, thanks.

  23. c4m1k4z3

    further reading

  24. Eddie Edwards
    Thumb Up

    Very cool

    Lovely explanation; now please do one for quantum computing :) The new chip is way more interesting than the fact that the Higgs boson still hasn't been discovered but it's still where they thought it was in the summer :)

    As for the Standard Model, it's pretty much known to be incorrect. Not only does it exclude gravitons or any other form of gravity, it also fails to explain dark matter and/or dark energy. So finding the Higgs shows the SM is consistent, but not that it's correct :)

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


      Dark matter is just all the time that was created at the big bang that hasn't been assigned yet.

    2. Tom Maddox Silver badge


  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't help thinking that if they knew their stuff they'd have known to check 125 GeV first, not go looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. A massive admission on their part. ;-)

  26. thehealer

    You cannot be serious.

    The words 'boffin' and 'boffinry' did not appear once in this article. Consequently it cannot be about serious science, ergo I cannot take it seriously. Here is a man with a funny hat, though he is only wearing one, not many, as people formerly did (apparently).

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: You cannot be serious.

      We just can't win, can we. Use boffin, get abuse, don't use boffin, get abuse. Where's the Xmas spirit? :-)


      1. CD001

        You'll never get abuse from an Englishman for using the term "boffin" ... ergo anyone who gives you abuse for using the term is not English and can, therefore, on a domain, be safely ignored ;)

        1. Hugh McIntyre

          Maybe a pedantic comment, but there are 3 other countries under whose people aren't English (Wales, Scotland, N Ireland). I assume you meant British?

          I do agree that abuse about "boffin" is out of place on The Reg though.

      2. hplasm

        The Xmas spirit-

        is long quaffed. By celebratory Boffins.

      3. Silverburn

        Xmas spirit's hiding behind the higgs particle.

        Pah, humbug.

      4. Graham Dawson Silver badge

        Drank it all on november. Cheers!

      5. laird cummings

        The Xmas Spirit..?

        It's out trying on new hats.

      6. Local Group

        To decrease the surplus population of Boffins

        No prisons. No workhouses. Just abuse.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "For those with the training ... "

    Oh ... understanding science requires training does it? There I was thinking that merely having an opinion made one qualified to understand complex scientific arguments. Contrast this billion dollar speculative whathaveyou with that other billion dollar speculative whathaveyou ...

  28. JDX Gold badge

    New Physics?

    If Higgs exists, validating the Standard Model, then that cuts out lots of more exotic models doesn't it? So maybe "old physics" is more appropriate ;)

    1. laird cummings

      Fair point, but every time someone solidly nails down a bit of the Standard Model, some yahoo comes along and uses it as a launching point for new and unexpected adventures in theoretical physics. You can expect that, if confirmed, the existiance and described nature of the Higgs-Bosun will only inspire young physicists to go looking for their own bit of turf - However else will they make a name for themselves?

  29. david 63

    Really? In the real world?

    “I can’t tell you what new things will come out of the completion of the Standard Model, but they will be amazing.”

  30. PyLETS

    Dark matter

    Great if subsequent data confirms these indications so they can claim discovery of the Higgs boson and get know its mass more precisely. This would be even more interesting if this helps them come up with an explanation for dark matter, which appears to be most of the mass of universe, the problem being we don't seem to have a clue as to what it is.

  31. Schultz Silver badge


    This paragraph makes no bloody sense:

    Interaction: Because the Higgs interacts weakly, there’s a very low probability that any particular event will actually create one, which means that CERN has to create billions of collisions just to generate enough events to get a reasonable probability that they’ve created Higgs bosons.

    Let me fix it:

    Interaction: Because the Higgs interacts weakly, there’s a very low probability that any particular [collision] will actually create one, which means that CERN has to create billions of collisions just to generate enough [Higgs bosons] to [detect them in] reasonable [numbers to prove] that they’ve created Higgs bosons.

  32. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    Poor old LEP

    As far as I understand it, CERN's previous collider went up over 100 GeV and was therefore within 25% or so of the energy required to see what the LHC has seen here.

    That must be annoying.

  33. Mystic Megabyte

    If the Higgs bosom gives mass to everything and has the mass of two atoms then how do things of less mass exist? Sorry but my physics is past it's sell by date.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You just leave Ms Higgs' bosom out of it. Just because it happens to be heavingly massive, like a ripe pair of firm yet yielding copper atoms...

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


        I was given to understand that the Higgs part was a field effect imparting mass to matter.

        Personally I'm looking forward to force fields and light sabres :)

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One slight inaccuracy in your description of the SM particles.

    >"Via the class of particles called the fermions, we get protons, neutrons (both built out of fermions), and electrons (which is a fermion); from the exchange of bosons, we get energies."

    Not quite correct. Everything already has energy, both fermions and bosons; what we get from the exchange of bosons is *forces*.

  35. Daniel 23

    Re: "Do they have a name?"

    I, for one, welcome our new high-energy overlords!

  36. anadish

    Higgs went to church for mass....

    The joke continues: The priest replied, "But, see, good sir, we have been holding a mass since Christ was born some 2000 years ago without ever have heard of you or seen you." To which Higgs Boson replies, "May be, but you need me for your gravity too which holds you down to the church floor." The priest was unsurprised and said, "Oh I see, I always thought it was the graveyard by the side which was the source of all the gravity; in that case, Mr. Higgs Boson, Sir, you may belong there."

  37. Stratman

    Interesting that the uberboffin used "about two copper atoms" as an comparison. Why not one iodine, or even four sulphurs?

  38. marhor

    Fermions, protons, neutrons, electrons

    Richard, a remark from a layman also (physicist however): Protons and neutrons each consist of three quarks, whereas the electron itself seems to be a fundamental particle. The term ,fermion' refers to the behaviour of all these particles (i.e. they obey the Pauli principle - two fermions cannot occupy the exact same quantum state - Bosons however can).

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