In The Field

APS April 2008: Fermilab could rule out one type of Higgs

With all the excitement about the imminent turning on of the LHC, people are forgetting that the Tevatron at Fermilab will be nipping at the LHC’s heels for a while. Brian Winer, of Ohio State University, gave an update on the Tevatron and explained how the scientists there are using every trick they can think of to wring more sensitivity out of the machine, such as using artificial neural networks to combine information from two different detection experiments. Also, the Tevatron has been running long enough now, at high enough luminosities, that they are getting enough collisions to make interesting statistics.

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As early as this summer, Winer expects that Fermilab will be able to to statistically rule out the existence of a 160 GeV Higgs boson, one of the theoretically likely masses for the so-called “God particle.” (Barring a positive detection, of course.) It will be a lot harder for them to detect a lower-mass Higgs boson before the LHC starts pumping out data. But who knows?

As a tantalizing treat, Winer put up a picture, a couple years old, of a detection of a particle that had the perfect characteristics of the Higgs. Only problem was, the particle was four times as likely to be noise.

Now, if they could only get four or five more detections in the same spot, then they’d be in business.

Winer repeated the exhortation of a colleague: “We’re one good idea away from finding this thing.”

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