Repaired too Late? Tevatron May Beat LHC in Hunt for Higgs Boson

[/caption]The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is billed as the next great particle accelerator that will give us our best chance yet at discovering the illusive exchange particle (or boson) of the Higgs field. The discovery (or not) of the Higgs boson will answer so many questions about our universe, and our understanding of the quantum world could be revolutionized.

But there’s a problem. The LHC isn’t scheduled for restart until September 2009 (a full year after the last attempt) and particle collisions aren’t expected until October. Even then, high energy collisions won’t be likely until 2010, leaving the field wide open for competing accelerator facilities to redouble their efforts at making this historic discovery before the LHC goes online.

The Tevatron, at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Illinois, is currently the most powerful accelerator in the world and has refined high energy particle collisions so much, that scientists are estimating there is a 50% chance of a Higgs boson discovery by the end of 2009

If this was a USA vs. Europe competition to discover the Higgs particle, the Tevatron would have a clear advantage. Although it’s old (the first configuration was completed in 1984), and set to be superseded by the LHC in 2010, the Tevatron is a proven particle accelerator with an impressive track record. Accelerator techniques and technology have been refined, making high energy hadron collisions routine. However, Fermilab scientists are keen to emphasise that they aren’t trying to beat the LHC in the search for the Higgs boson.

We’re not racing CERN,” said Fermilab Director, Pier Oddone. He points out that there is a lot of collaborative work between Fermilab and CERN, therefore all scientists, no matter which continent they are on, are all working toward a common goal. In reality, I doubt this is the case. When searching for one of the most coveted prizes in modern quantum physics, it’s more of a case of ‘every lab for itself.’ Scientists in Fermilab have confirmed this, saying they are “working their tails off” analysing data from the Tevatron.

Indirectly, we’re helping them,” says Dmitri Denisov, DZero (one of the Tevatron’s detectors) spokesman, of his European competition. “They’re definitely feeling the heat and working a little harder.”

For the Standard Model to be complete, the Higgs particle must be found. If it does exist, physicists have put upper and lower bounds on its possible mass. Standing at a value between 114 and 184 GeV, this is well within the sensitivity of the Tevatron detectors. It should be a matter of time until the Higgs particle is discovered and physicists have calculated that if the Higgs particle can be created during a Tevatron high-energy proton-antiproton collision. They even give the Tevatron a 50:50 chance of a Higgs particle discovery by the New Year.

Last summer, both key particle experiments (CDF and DZero) focused on detecting Higgs particles with a mass of 170 GeV (at this value a particle would be easier to detect from the background noise). However, no Higgs particles were detected. Now physicists will expand the search above and below this value. Therefore, if the Higgs boson exists, it would be useful if it has a mass as close as possible to 170 GeV. Estimates suggest a 150 GeV Higgs boson could be discovered as early as this summer, well before the LHC has even been repaired. If the mass of the Higgs boson is around the 120 GeV mark, it might take Tevatron scientists until 2010 to verify whether a Higgs boson has been detected.

Source: New Scientist

23 Replies to “Repaired too Late? Tevatron May Beat LHC in Hunt for Higgs Boson”

  1. When I first glanced at the pic while multi-tasking with the other 2 ‘puters, I thought it was a picture of an ‘astrology wheel’ with a ‘person’ with a ‘green outfit’ getting ready to spin the wheel,Lol. Then I really looked, I said this is ‘old thing’ is still viable, the more I looked, the more I’m impressed. If the Higgs boson is discovered by the Tevatron, then the LHC will make refinements. What a complex work of art/science!!!!!

  2. Conspiracy theory:
    If Fermilab “get there” first, it’ll be prove that they sabotaged the LHC, because: Fermilab supplied the LHC magnet which overheated…..

  3. Finding Higgs is like offshoring production and jobs: short term gain for a very few, long term loss for the very many. Far better to not find it! Far better to find a whole bunch of “weird” results to feed the theorists’ need for screed.

  4. The political elite of the European Community indeed propagated the goal to get ahead of the U.S. a few years ago, meaning that the already enforced process of integration of the several dozens of nations of Europe would show concrete economical results. Indeed, there was a ten-year plan to become THE global leader! But the plan failed, as everyone can see today. I don’t know whether the funding of the LHC was influenced by that program. A success could only have been of symbolic value.

  5. Oogly Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 5:23 am

    “Finding Higgs is like offshoring production and jobs”

    I do understand that you are afraid of this and that. But does your anxiety make you superior to the managers of scientific undertakings that strive for ultimate knowledge? Your utterances rather remind one on the sounds that the legs of cockroaches produce.

  6. Good luck to Fermilab!

    A last big success for the Teva might just be the kicker to get funding for the ILC.

    I don’t mind if the LHC won’t find the first Higgs. There’s bound to be more there.

    And even if there isn’t, we *have* to look to know that.

    So, yes, even if it doesn’t find *anything* new, the LHC will have been a success.

  7. “We’re not racing CERN,” said Fermilab Director, Pier Oddone.

    When I read that I almost choked from laughing while I was eating my lunch.

  8. @dollhopf :

    ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) is, well, an international project.
    So far, members are EU, US, Canada, Japan, China, South-Korea and Russia.
    More might join later, hopefully.

  9. Damn, Steve! You’re okay?

    A German proverb says that Konkurrenz belebt das Geschäft, meaning something like competition is good for trade. We should have much more of such rivalries.

  10. I know, Manu.

    And it is fun to see how the scientific slave drivers do lash out at their staffs to have their own career crowned by the Nobel Price.

  11. Meh – Even if Fermilab do discover the Higgs, it’ll be by the barest of margins. And they simply don;t have the energy to produce them in significant enough numbers to really be able to say much about them or go beyond them at all. LHC will be (assuming they actually exist) a frickin’ Higgs producing machine! Hopefully it will go beyond that though and start to show us where the Standard Model is wrong, and suggest what directions to start looking in to fix it.

    msuper Says:
    February 18th, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    msuper – if your theory was any good, you wouldn’t need to advertise a website spruiking it on a different popular website comments page. You’d have it in a reputable journal. My god – can’t we somehow ban any strong with ‘www’ in it, or concatenated words such as ‘superrelativity’ or anything with a .org or a .com?

  12. Let’ assume Higgs is not found between 114 and 184 GeV and therefore does not exist. Does that mean the standard model is flawed? Why is the Higgs fundamentally necessary? If Higgs does not exist, what is an alternative solution?

  13. May the particle scientists have painted themselves into a corner?

    The physicists have become so fond of the Standard Model that the Higgs boson just ‘has to’ exist. 6 kinds of quarks and the strong and the weak nuclear force are taken for granted, even though none of them have been unambiguously or directly detected.

    Is it about time to give new thoughts a chance? Maybe take a look at some of the ‘crackpot’-ideas, even if just to realize that is possible to think differently…


  14. Isn’t the Higgs necessary because it’s the particle that gives ‘mass’ to all the other particles?

  15. It would seem logical to me, if any particle is deemed important enough to be called the ‘God particle’, that its existence would so ubiquitous as to be MORE obvious than the nose on your face.

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