In the build-up to the LHC results announced on Tuesday , I was in a position similar to that when I wrote this article in the summer. When CMS unveiled their result, it could have been a stronger hint-of-Higgs than ours, a weaker one, or it could have contradicted ours. That's uncertainty for you, and as Suzanne Moore says, we'd better deal with that.
And so we go on, with the odds shifted in favour of a Higgs boson existing at a mass of about GeV or times the proton mass , but with bets still very much being taken.
In the summer, that was also what happened. But the result this week was more interesting. In the summer, the "hint" was in the WW decay mode of the Higgs. For reasons I described here , this mode is not very good for telling us the mass of any candidate Higgs boson there might be.
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The neutrinos , from the decaying W bosons, carry away too much information that we don't see. But the main interest this week was focussed on two other ways the Higgs can decay, and therefore show up in our detectors. Both of these decay modes can tell us the mass of the Higgs, should it be there, and both are weird, for different reasons. The weirdness here is that the Higgs boson is famous for - or was deduced from, or invented to explain, according to taste - mass.
Fundamental particles get mass by interacting with it.
By the same token then, the Higgs will generally decay to heavy things. The more massive they are, the more likely the Higgs will decay to them, because it interacts most strongly with them.
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Conversely, things with no mass don't interact with the Higgs. So why photons? Photons are quanta of light.
Online From Photons To Higgs A Story Of Light
They have no mass. Indeed, the Higgs decays to photons very rarely. If the Higgs boson mass is about GeV, and you make 10, of them, less than ten will decay to two photons. Most will decay to bottom beauty , quarks. But these are very hard to distinguish from other collision debris which don't involve a Higgs. Quarks, even beautiful ones, are cheap at the LHC. Pairs of high energy photons, not surrounded by other stuff, are much rarer and can be measured more accurately. February 25, - Published on Amazon.
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It allows the readers to grasp the most essential features of the quantum field theory without reliance on complicated mathematical apparatus. Great job!
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