Unblinding the Higgs

This new video has been bouncing around the blogs and Twitter feeds I read: excerpts from internal (i.e., non-public) talks at the CMS collaboration, as they revealed to themselves the new Higgs results from this summer. When you started hearing rumors last June, it was from these meetings that they emerged.

First we see two talks at internal collaboration meetings, by Mingming Yang on June 15 and by Andre David on June 28, then some of Joe Incandela’s public announcement on July 4 (along with Fabiola Gianotti’s talk about the ATLAS results, of course). In the first talk the significance was poking past four sigma, but not yet reaching five sigma, which took a bit more work (and data).

You might expect a lot of whooping and hollering on the part of the experimenters as they see how good their data is, but for the most part they are pretty quiet. It’s not because they don’t recognize the importance of the moment — it’s because their brains are working at full capacity, taking in the information on the slides and trying to understand exactly what it means.

The first talk is advertised as “unblinding,” when they first look at the results that they have intentionally hidden from themselves to prevent cheating. That seems like a tiny exaggeration, unless they’ve written a script that takes the data, turns it into a pretty plot, and uploads and captions that plot on a PowerPoint slide without any human being seeing it. (I suppose it’s possible…) But this is when most of the collaboration first heard the news, which is an historic moment by any measure.

  1. As I understood what Andre David said, they had started the unblinding process 16 hours previously. Enough time to prepare a powerpoint (or maybe beamer) slide. At least they didn’t use Comic Sans.

  2. Man, physics really isn’t a spectator sport. She should just get to the point, then motivate the details. Haven’t she heard of marketing!

  3. Hello Sean, well this comment is not about the Higgs Bosom but I wonder could you trouble your self to have a look at my amateurish offerings.
    I am not a scientist and I present my mathematical capabilities would belong back with the cave men.
    In your article titled “ DOSE THE UNIVERSE NEED GOD? “ you wrote that 2 the inability of established physics to describe The Big Bang event makes it tempting to consider the possibility that God has a crucial role to play at this unique moment in the history of the Universe
    If we were able to construct a complete naturalistic account the necessity of appealing to God would be diminished.
    Well Sean I am a firm believer that God exist but in my simplistic view for a mechanism for The Big Bang I keep thinking along the lines that all of the forces in nature are variations of the same force which has two states, a contracting state and a expanding state.
    So contraction versus expansion, with expansion winning out gives us The Big Bang, also in terms of present day expansion of the Universe accelerating, could this not be compared to a man pushing a wheel barrow full of bricks, flat out he travels at a certain speed but if one removes a quantity of bricks and have a bigger man pushing the wheel barrow you would get acceleration.
    Suppose that could be thought of as the contracting state continuing to change into the expanding state, reverse the situation and you get The Big Crunch.
    Cheer Sean probably a load of nonsense

  4. What about the idea that there could be a very strong field of some kind outside and all around our known universe which is pulling equally from all directions causing the accelerating expansion?

  5. Sorry if previous comment is naive nonsense and I haven’t done a lot of research but I am fascinated with this stuff and have begun to read From Eternity to Here and The Particle… So…I just threw an idea out there…also I entered my e-mail address wrong so I’m posting this comment to correct it…