back to article CERN spots Higgs boson decay breaking the rules

Evidence discovered at CERN of a rare form of Higgs boson decay may be just what scientists need to prove the existence of particles beyond those predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics – indirectly, at least. Speaking at the Large Hadron Collider Physics Conference last week, researchers working on a pair of CERN …

  1. Zack Mollusc

    Waste of time and money.

    All that money and effort to find the Higgs Bosuns and now they are decaying? They should have spent their time finding something that lasts. Idiots.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Waste of time and money.

      It's all this eco-stuff, we have to make disposable compostable bosons rather than those photons that hang around for ever

      1. Sudonym

        Re: Waste of time and money.

        But... but... all the coffee shops keep telling us we should be taking in our reusable cups.

        We need more longer-lasting, reusable Bosons. Not these disposable ones that keep decaying so quickly!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given the number of ways that the data are being looked at for anomalies, and the difficulty in calculating these effects in the standard model, the likelihood that this result will vapourize in a puff of neutrinos is likely somewhere around 7 sigma.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm doing my part!

      Running somebody else's code in a VirtualBox on my computer. What could possibly go wrong, right?

  3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    breaking the rules

    "They can split into four electrons," I would have thought that was a bigger rule break than a boson decaying into 2 other neutral bosons

    1. Julian Bradfield

      Re: breaking the rules

      The CERN article says "pairs of electrons or muons" ... which I imagine is to be understood as "electron-positron pairs".

      1. steelpillow Silver badge

        Re: breaking the rules

        Yep. Or muon-antimuon. See for example

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: breaking the rules

      Yeah, there's a better way to put that -- we made it clearer in the piece.


      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: breaking the rules

        Thanks. It still makes my head hurt though. ;-) Ow.

  4. Dr. G. Freeman

    Just as we think we know what's going on, it changes.

    Wouldn't be surprised if we tear up the standard model within twenty years

    1. tfewster

      Douglas Adams nailed it on a larger scale:

      “There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

      There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”

      1. PeterM42

        Discover...what the Universe is for and why it is here....

        ,.... it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

        Yes, this HAS already happened.

        Welcome to WOKE world.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      That would be about par for the course. The current standard model seems to have more or less settled into its current form in the mid-70s, so it's about 50 years old. Before that, there was a period of about 70 years of experimenters delivering endless "what the fuck" moments to the theoreticians, starting with things like the photo-electric effect. About 40 years prior to that, Maxwell's electromagnetism and a recognisable formulation of classical thermodynamics were "new" in the 1860s or so. Electricity itself was taking shape in labs around the beginning of that century. Go back much before 1770 and I think we were still knocking classical mechanics into some kind of analytical shape. And of course Newton's Principia is not much further back again (1689).

      So even if the Standard Model is toast by the end of this year, I'd say it has done about as well as any of its predecessors.

      1. Joe W Silver badge

        I wouldn't call it "toast"...

        ... after all, we still use Newtonian mechanics to fly to the moon (or launch sattelites) - for GPS to work, we need to work with relativistic effects though. The current standard model is probably useful enough to keep it around and use it where it works well enough. It will likely remain a useful approximation. Especially since they propose to extend the standard model, not to completely can it.

        However, I totally agree with the overall assessment of the situation (if not the exact wording).

      2. Spazturtle Silver badge

        The greatest achievement of the standard model is it's incredible ability to accurately predict things, we have found things pretty much exactly where it said they should be found.

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      I thought the entire point of the quantum realm was to lull you into a false sense of security and then screw with your mind so hard you'll be questioning reality.

    4. Cuddles

      To be clear, we are absolutely sure we really have no idea what's going on. It's been known for decades that the Standard Model is fundamentally broken in several different ways. The entire reason for the existence of large fields of particle physics such as string theory and supersymmetry is precisely to find some way to either fix it or replace it with something better. The problem is that the parts we're pretty sure it can't handle mostly still fall outside the range of energies we're able to experiment on. Meanwhile, every time someone has a clever idea for something we can actually test, it keeps turning out to match the basic Standard Model and not point us in any useful direction for how to modify it.

      This was why the search for the Higgs boson was such a big deal. The idea wasn't simply to find it, there were a whole bunch of different predictions for what mass it would have or how many different types there might be depending on which theory you used, so it was supposed to tell us where to look next. And once again it was just the unmodified Standard Model that matched best, and whole swathes of string and field theories were pretty much thrown out overnight. And that's why this news is also potentially a big deal. We might have finally found something solid that can tells us which direction we should be looking to figure out what's going on.

      So there's never been any thinking we know what's going on. That's just a common myth non-scientists think scientists think. We've been modifying and trying to fix the Standard Model for longer than it's even been called that. The original version when the term was coined 50 years ago only had 4 quarks and massless neutrinos after all. But neither are we simply going to tear it up and replace it with something entirely new. Newtonian physics is correct, it's simply the low-energy limit of relativistic physics. Similarly, the Standard Model is correct under certain conditions, it's simply going to be the limit of some more widely valid theory. Modern quantum physics is the most thoroughly tested theory ever to have existed; we know it's not complete and doesn't cover every situation, but all the parts it gets right aren't suddenly going to disappear and require us to tear it all up and throw it out wholesale. It's possible we'll end up in a situation like relativity where our new theory boils down to the previous one under certain conditions. Much more likely is that whatever we come up with will still be called the Standard Model, and there will just be yet another addition or extension to the existing theory rather than an actual replacement.

  5. steelpillow Silver badge

    Joy unbounded

    Firstly, these virtual-particle probability games happen with all particle-particle interactions, not just this Higgsy stuff. But it's mainly at the top, Higgsy end of our experimental energy range that undiscovered particles might remain to be found. An unexpected decay rate, into say the Z plus a photon, is just the memory of a shadow of a particle that couldn't quite pop into existence after all. That is all you get to work with. So you drum up a magic idea and invent some magic maths (basically the same thing), plug it into the standard maths and see if its predictions are anywhere nearer the mark.

    It's pretty much like monkeys at a typewriter: if enough physicists plug enough magic ideas into enough predictions, eventually one of them will win the Nobel prize. They hope.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Joy unbounded

      Schrödinger's boson

  6. _Elvi_

    new unidentified particles?

    .. call then "Noticles" .. ?

    Us curious Monkeys just hate it when we don't understand anything..

    I think i need a banana ..

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: .. call then "Noticles" .. ?

      Scientists will no doubt want to do some tests...

      1. DrollLeek

        Re: .. call then "Noticles" .. ?

        During which tests they will be referred to as test-icles.


  7. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Bosons Lives Matter

    1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      So who thinks Bosons Lives DONTmatter,?

      1. georgeBlot

        Bosons lives antimatter.

  8. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

    " … the 0.15 percent predicted by the standard Standard Model."

    Is there a "non-standard Standard Model"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Is there a "non-standard Standard Model"?

      There are some standard Non-standard models, if that helps. :-)

      E.g. supersymmetry,

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge

      "Is there a "non-standard Standard Model"?"

      There is the standard Standard Model, things we know we know.

      We also know there is a standard Non-Standard Model, that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.

      But there is also non-standard Non-Standard Models - the one we don't know we don't know.

      Finally there is the non-standard Standard Models - the thing that you know, that you don't know you know.


      1. steelpillow Silver badge

        Then there are the Rumsfeld standard models; the things you don't even know whether you know or not, because you just lost the will to live.

      2. UCAP Silver badge

        I think my brain just imploded while reading that.

      3. Joe W Silver badge

        You write this as a joke, but from a statistical point of view the original quote neatly explains how modeling works, and what Bayesian inference is all about...

  9. ecofeco Silver badge

    It's the Judas Priest of particles?

    Breakin the law,

    Breakin the law

    dun dun

    Breakin the law,

    Breakin the law

    dun dun

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: It's the Judas Priest of particles?

      Scientists are working out chromium-plated boiling metal. Apparently it radiates 1000 times more energy than our sun's fusion.

      1. KittenHuffer Silver badge

        You just broke ....

        .... my BS detector! The needle just wrapped itself around the stop!

        Is the chromium boiling? Or the metal it is plated to? If it's boiling how is it still plated?

        Then you have the mass loss which is actually the source of fusion energy. This is 0.7% for hydrogen fusing to helium. A 1000 times that would be 700% loss of mass!!!

        I know that chromium (or the metal it is plating) will have a higher atomic mass than hydrogen, but I still fail to see how you can get 1000 time more energy without total conversion of the fuel to energy. And I thought that was only realistic if you're talking of using antimatter.

        So please provide some links to your astonishing new physics ..... or stop BS trolling the comments!

        1. twellys

          Re: You just broke ....

          You haven't had your morning coffee yet, have you?

        2. heyrick Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: You just broke ....

          That's as amusing as that time Dr. Becky did a review of a Dr Who episode about black holes and went off on quite a few tangents about the stuff that was painfully wrong (like apparently mixing up black holes and wormholes).

    2. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: It's the Judas Priest of particles?

      Faster than a laser bullet....

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A particle smaller than a Boson?

    A Boson’s Cat, surely.

    1. Kobus Botes

      Re: A particle smaller than a Boson?

      Re AC: "A bosons cat, surely"

      ...or even chair!

    2. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: A particle smaller than a Boson?

      But is the cat alive, dead, or both?

      1. UCAP Silver badge

        Re: A particle smaller than a Boson?

        But is the cat alive, dead ...

        ... or bloody furious.

        (Thanks to the late, great, Sir Terry for that one).

  11. Richard 12 Silver badge

    There's nothing more exciting in science than "that's odd".

    And that's very odd.

    The trouble with most of the serious alternatives to the Standard Model has been that there's too many of them, and no experiments to determine which is "correct". Maybe CERN can now bang the rocks together hard enough to tell?

    1. Schultz

      "Too many alternatives to the Standard Model"

      The fact that there are so many untested (and some times untestable) theories out there indicates that we throw too much money at theoreticians and too little at experimentalists. This results in a lot of pointless theories and then a lot of PhDs ("Quants") messing up our financial system.

  12. ThatOne Silver badge
  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Every now and then I think...

    ...which may or may not itself be true... that we make subatomic discoveries when we're ready to conceive of them - which designing the experiments and building the machines implies - like reality is a dream with an internal consistency that, when imagination meets, causes new varieties to spontaneously exist. We're not discovering but inventing them, writing a play as we go; people thinking emotion causes action rather than being an effect of it, but in reverse; like the machine of the Krell.

    Belief is necessarily unconscious - intuitive - and not fantastic - so 'discovery' appears plausible, though actually it's creation with a small 'c'.Like the observation collapsing the waveform is the thinking of it in sufficient detail as to be mentally reciting an incantation (code).

    Mind you, there are times nicotine withdrawal is so far out I could get hooked on it.

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