Here’s a pretty good story on the Higgs discovery. I have to say, I’m not sure to five sigma that I exist, so the result seems pretty solid.
Five sigma says “No link, fire up the faster-than-light neutrinos to make this comment wrong.”
Rand, the thing with the five sigmas is that this is physics, not climate science. These people are serious and check their results every which way before make important claims.
If they were like climate scientists, they would claim they detected a flavor consistent with the Higgs in a tuna sandwich from Subway, and then extrapolate to the collapse of the fishing industry and unavoidable mass starvation.
It’s fun to read the reaction of people like particle physicists when they finally get interested enough to take a look at climate science, which almost always produces screaming about mathematical, experimental, and theoretical shoddiness, as if unsupervised 7th graders were trying to do a physics experiment.
Precision isn’t the issue here. Even 2-sigma results, which you get out of climate models, mean something–more when you’ve got your economic and political balls on the table and the hammer raised. The real issue is that we’re talking about two very different degrees of observations. Climate scientists are trying shoehorn an observation on an open, irreproducible, dynamical system that it is highly coupled to processes into a model that is forever fitted to new data. Particle physicists are working with in isolated experiments that decouple external factors to a cosmological degree.
This like how I crossed the border from Massachusetts into Vermont in a rented car. There is a big sign on I-91 admonishing “State Law: use turn signals before changing lanes.” I think the sign was trying to say, “Use your f^**#$ turn signals, you are no longer in Massachusetts, d@#$%%t!”
To paraphrase Heinlein, I know barely more about particle physics than a cow knows about cube root. Still, if, as everybody seems to be saying, the Higgs boson imparts mass to the things in the universe that have mass, it seems like the Higgs should also have something non-trivial to do with gravity as that force is always associated with mass. One of the central mysteries of modern astrophysics, as I understand it, is characterizing the nature of the “Dark Energy” force that appears to be overruling gravity and making the universe expand at an accelerating rate – why not just call it “anti-gravity”? If figuring out the Higgs leads to figuring out gravity and anti-gravity then the Large Hadron Collider will have been a steal at twice its price. I want really cheap access to space, dammit! Oh yeah, and I want my goddamn flying car too!
The article brings up another point when it said “Massless photons cannot even be linked to Kevin Bacon,” which for one indicates that photons don’t have a finite Bacon number (and thus also lack a finite Erdős-Bacon number), but also indicates that Kevin Bacon’s unlikely entanglement in mathematics has now produced an association with particle physics. So let’s kick this off with a question about quantum theory. If Kevin Bacon is placed in a studio and emits two entangled photons toward the camera, and the photons travel through two slits with alternate polarization, what happens?
I’m not sure about Kevin Bacon’s photons, but CERN has a Erdős–Bacon number of 2, which puts Massless photons at a Erdős–Bacon number of 3. That’s better than Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking, who are both at 4.
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