Tuesday, February 17, 2009

50/50 at worst, 96% at best

These are the odds that Fermilab will find the Higgs before CERN. At least, according to Fermilab, as quoted today in this article from BBC News. The subhead of the article reads "Europe's particle physics lab, CERN, is losing ground rapidly in the race to discover the elusive Higgs boson, or "God Particle," its US rival claims."

Later in the article comes this line:

"Project leader Lyn Evans conceded the enforced downtime might cost the European lab one of the biggest prizes in physics."

I've mentioned before that Ben Kilminster, wearing his batman T-shirt, half-jokingly said that Fermilab was in a race with CERN but they needed CERN to "trip a little bit. Stumble." Back when CERN had its breakdown, in the fall of 2008, I don't think anyone expected the ramifications to be quite so huge. Remember, some people say that the entire construction of this new version of CERN was done to find the Higgs. Others will point out that there is much more science that will be done than that one discovery, but no one could deny that the Higgs is a main motivator. So when it became apparent that CERN was out of commission for a full year, I suspect the worrying began. This wasn't CERN tripping a little bit; a stumble. This was turning out to be a headlong sprawl.

As Leon Lederman, John Conway, and others said in our film, the Tevatron is now a finely-tuned, thoroughly tested race car, purring along on eight cylinders, with a pit crew of battle-hardened mechanics standing by who know every nut and bolt by heart. If ever there was a moment for it to take the lead and claim the prize, this is it.

The article states something quite stunning:

"Fermilab estimates that the Tevatron has already picked out about eight collision events which may be hints of the Higgs."

Sounds like there's a potential that by summer this could finally be in the bag... stay tuned for further developments...

Friday, February 6, 2009

New Hampshire Public Radio

And here's a link to a slightly more erudite interview Monica did with New Hampshire Public Radio's Word of Mouth show. They do a really nice job of introducing the story, including playing some clips from the film like they did at our Chicago NPR show (but they get monica's last name wrong. It's the price of fame.)


Here's a link to a rather lengthy interview I did for an online science radio show called Groks Science Radio. At the end of the interview, they asked if I'd like to play a game called Grokatron 5000. This is where they ask a question, generated by their super computer (ahem). The question was "Massive or Insubstantial?" I was asked to rate each of 5 people as being either massive or insubstantial. The five people were: Bill Gates (windows = insubstantial, but philanthropic work = massive). Jerry Springer (again, first half of his life in politics = massive, TV show = insubstantial), Stephen Hawking (massive, of course), Paris Hilton (insubstantial), George Bush (unfortunately massive).

Why? Because the Grokatron asked. I answered.