Tomorrow physicists and their enablers at CERN and its Large Hadron Collider will declare with appropriate ceremonial majesty whether a particle beam fracas has blown sputum with flecks that appear to be from the formation and self-destruction of Higgs bosons. It will be a declaration heavily hedged in statistical fuzz. Maybe (gad, shifting metaphors here) it will be clearly probable they've confirmed the beast exists from its footprints and shed fur.
And who in blazes called this thing the god particle in the first place? Oh yeah, the sainted Leon Lederman. Anyway, it's an apt metaphor from mythology. The Higgs is embodiment of a pervasive force - everywhere but hard to see - in the standard model of physics. It would be what put form on the cosmos. In this case the prime mover is mass, which means focussed sources of gravity, the enucleator of galaxies and their many whorls populated by suns and planets. Many media put a capital G in it. Such an Abrahamic thing to do, a hint to many readers' reflexes that divine events are involved. It's a readership potion so potent few can resist.
It is impossible to imagine that speculation over this announcement would NOT be common. Tomorrow's the US Independence Day, a holiday to be spent with a grandson whose birthday it also is. So on on Thursday we'll scan the verbiage spraying from the formal event in Switzerland.
Inklings of the Higgs:
- AP - John Heilprin, Seth Borenstein: Researchers to announce evidence of 'God particle' that explains universe. The first author is in Geneva, and the second at the service's DC bureau.Several physicists in the know are quoted. One says nobody will say "discovery" for sure but it's a hair's-breadth away from statistics so robust that doubt is difficult. Sean M. Carroll - theoretical physicist of Caltech, the Cosmic Variance blog, and higher dimensional calculation - says if both CERN detectors tell the same story that seals the deal for most in his line. The story duly notes that announcement in Geneva is being made to give more oomph to results also on the agenda at a scientific conference in Australia.
- Daily Mail (UK) Rob Cooper:God particle is found': Scientists at Cern expected to announced on Wednesday Higgs boson particle has been discovered ; Word is that this was the first big-circulation media outlet, on Sunday, to take the plunge.
- Daily Mail (UK) Michael Hanlon: As rumours fly that physicists have discovered 'The God Particle', are we about to know the Mind of God ; Wow, even capitalized mind just for the thrill of it. One would think that at this paper rumour should be the word to respect with a capital R. Hanlon smartly refers to a site, Peter Woit's Not Even Wrong with a fine roundup of internet and other rumors.
- ScienceNews - two pieces. First, today, is an unsigned one by "staff" and some there suspect it is an excloo: CMS spokesman: We've observed a new particle' / CERN video confirms existence of heavy boson, probably Higgs" Yesterday, a curtain raiser, Alexandra Witze: Physicists bet they're homing in on Higgs ;
- *UPDATE: NatureNews - Matthew Chalmers: Physicists find new particle, but is it the Higgs?; Sorry to have missed this one. It doesn't seem to have hit any wrong note on the eve of official word.
- NYTimes - Dennis Overbye: Physicists Inch Closer to Proof of Elusive Particle ; Overbye's topic is, formally, that Fermilab's now-closed Tevatron has tantalizing archived data too.The news context is the CERN announcement tomorrow. He doesn't use 'god particle.' But he displays true wit and a talent for one-upsmanship by employing a far better Old Testament analogy.
- Los Angeles Times - Amina Khan : Have their eyes seen 'God particle'? Fermilab finds hints of Higgs boson ; A story with some convergent-evolution parallels to NYTimes's treatment.
- Los Angeles Times - Rosie Mestel (ScienceNow blog): Higgs boson: Web goes wild with speculation ; She relays word that the AP first declared it expects unalloyed proof of the Higgs, which it dialed back later to evidence for it.
- Huffington Post (blog) Tony Phillips: There's No God (Damn) Particle ; Sums up a nation's feelings - and did you exhale the same 'huh!??' this morning on scanning p.1 of the NYTimes and others? Since when was Anderson Cooper not already out?
- USA Today - Dan Vergano: Evidence of 'God particle' reportedly found ;
- Washington Post - Brian Vastag: Why finding the 'God particle' is a big deal ;
- ... lots more, but wait'll tomorrow (and Thur here at tracker central) for the second wave.
- Charlie Petit