Favored Higgs hiding spot remains after most complete search yet

Are we there yet? Well, no, not quite. Just be patient and try counting the cows, or something.

Despite a number of rumors and preliminary results, the Higgs boson hasn’t yet been found. There’s not even a clear signal yet that could be the real thing, with only a bit more data needed for better statistical confidence.

However, the possible range in energy space where the Higgs could hide keeps shrinking. The search parties are closing in. And it seems meaningful that so far everyone sees the same range where the Higgs might be.

Favored Higgs hiding spot remains after most complete search yet

The CMS and ATLAS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider have backed the Standard Model Higgs boson, if it exists, into a corner with their first combined Higgs search result.

The study, made public today, eliminates several hints the individual experiments saw in previous analyses but leaves in play the favored mass range for the Higgs boson, between 114 and 141 GeV. ATLAS and CMS ruled out at a 95 percent confidence level a Higgs boson with a mass between 141 and 476 GeV. …

“I think it could be an interesting message the data is telling us,” said physicist Eilam Gross of the Weizmann Institute of Science, who shares leadership of the ATLAS experiment’s Higgs group. “Any discovery starts with the inability to exclude.”

Several related measurements indirectly suggest a Standard Model Higgs boson exists at the lower end of the mass range.

It is possible, however, that some answer, based on data already collected, may come out before the end of the year.

Higgs hunt enters endgame

Analysis of the very latest data from this autumn — which Murray isn’t yet ready to share — will scour the range that remains. If it turns out to be empty, physicists may have to accept that the particle simply isn’t there. Working around the clock, the detector teams hope to have this larger data set analysed before the end of December. “We’ll know the outcome within weeks,” says Guido Tonelli, spokesman for the CMS detector.


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