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Old 07-05-2012, 07:11 PM
Leo Bloom is offline
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Higgs boson: so who'll get the Nobel?


A victory has many fathers they say.

See subject.
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Old 07-05-2012, 08:48 PM
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A victory has many fathers they say.
Who's your daddy, Higgs boson?

Stephen Hawking thinks Peter Higgs should get it for predicting the particle. On the other hand, George Gamow predicted the CMB, but Penzias and Wilson won the Nobel for accidentally discovering it, and later John Mather and George Smoot won for measuring it.
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Old 07-05-2012, 08:49 PM
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Reported for possible forum change, as it seems to be a matter of opinion rather than factual.
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Old 07-05-2012, 09:22 PM
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Another complicating factor is that while Higgs got his name attached to the boson, three groups (totaling six physicists) came up with the idea independently. Unfortunately, a Nobel Prize can't be shared among more than three people/organizations, so some of them will be SOL.
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Old 07-05-2012, 09:46 PM
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Have recent or past events regarding the Higgs Boson conferred great benefit on mankind?

Last edited by TriPolar; 07-05-2012 at 09:47 PM.
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Old 07-05-2012, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Esox Lucius View Post
Who's your daddy, Higgs boson?

Stephen Hawking thinks Peter Higgs should get it for predicting the particle. On the other hand, George Gamow predicted the CMB, but Penzias and Wilson won the Nobel for accidentally discovering it, and later John Mather and George Smoot won for measuring it.
Let's just throw Jocelyn Bell in the list too for having the misfortune of being a grad student when she discovered pulsars.
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Old 07-05-2012, 10:26 PM
colonial is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Esox Lucius View Post
Who's your daddy, Higgs boson?

Stephen Hawking thinks Peter Higgs should get it for predicting the particle. On the other hand, George Gamow predicted the CMB, but Penzias and Wilson won the Nobel for accidentally discovering it, and later John Mather and George Smoot won for measuring it.
Numerous physicists deserved the Nobel more than Penzias and Wilson,
who literally had no idea what they were looking at. They thought CMB
noises were being caused by pigeon shit on their antenna!

Ralph Alper predicted CMB around the same time as Gamov, and Robert Dicke
and James Peebles of Princeton University rediscovered CMB prediction, and
were about to look for it when they learned of the serendipitous discovery by
Penzias and Wilson not far away in Holmdel NJ.

Last edited by colonial; 07-05-2012 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 07-05-2012, 10:30 PM
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Have recent or past events regarding the Higgs Boson conferred great benefit on mankind?
That requirement may never have been in force for theoretical physics.

Nor should it be.

Relativity and Quantum Mechanics were decades away from practical
application when first discovered.
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Old 07-05-2012, 10:48 PM
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Have recent or past events regarding the Higgs Boson conferred great benefit on mankind?
Fortunately, Alfred Nobel didn't mention mankind in his will when creating the physics prize. It is to be awarded to whomever "shall have made the most important discovery or invention within the field of physics." (Should Olympic golds go to the runners who have most benefited mankind, or to the ones who ran the fastest?)
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Old 07-05-2012, 10:54 PM
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That requirement may never have been in force for theoretical physics.

Nor should it be.

Relativity and Quantum Mechanics were decades away from practical
application when first discovered.
Those were major advances in human knowledge, bestowing great benefit from the knowledge of their existence. Did the theorizing of the Higgs Boson, by Higgs or others do such thing, or have the recent tests to confirm those theories done that?

I agree it's a tough standard to hold theoretical physicists to.
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:07 PM
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Those were major advances in human knowledge, bestowing great benefit from the knowledge of their existence. Did the theorizing of the Higgs Boson, by Higgs or others do such thing, or have the recent tests to confirm those theories done that?
Well, surely, it is also a major advance in human knowledge... Why is that enough for the other theories, but not this?

Last edited by Indistinguishable; 07-05-2012 at 11:09 PM.
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:10 PM
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Reported for possible forum change, as it seems to be a matter of opinion rather than factual.
How about Cafe Society?

On next season's The Big Bang Theory, how many episodes will we get before Sheldon tries to take some credit?
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Those were major advances in human knowledge, bestowing great benefit from the knowledge of their existence. Did the theorizing of the Higgs Boson, by Higgs or others do such thing, or have the recent tests to confirm those theories done that?

I agree it's a tough standard to hold theoretical physicists to.
I think antimatter would be a rough anology with the Higgs.

Antimatter was a necessity of nature which so to speak sprung from Quantum Mechanical equations
developed by Paul Dirac in the late 1920s. Antimatter's discovery a few years later is considered the
first emperimental confirmation of QM.

Simiularly the Higgs is a necessity of nature predicted by the equations of the so-called Standard Model
of physics, a further, extensive QM development which describes the strong and electroweak forces
(but not gravity). The discovery of Higgs confirms the truth of the Standard Model in somewhat the same
way antimatter confirmed the truth of QM.
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:48 PM
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Those were major advances in human knowledge, bestowing great benefit from the knowledge of their existence.
They may or may not have bestowed benefit, but that's beside the point. Nobel didn't make the Prize for advancements that had benefits to humanity. It's for achievements that are important within the field of physics itself. If (obvious, immediate) benefits are required, entire subfields of pursuit would be disallowed (e.g., cosmology).

(It's a separate discussion as to whether QM was seen as anything beyond a curiosity outside of the field of physics in 1918.)

Regarding the thread topic at hand: no one has mentioned the experimental effort. The prediction of the Higgs wasn't the biggest theoretical leap we've had in the past century, but the discovery of the Higgs was pretty friggin' tough. Of course, the experimental effort has even more people to sift through looking for appropriate prize recipients...
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:49 PM
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Well, surely, it is also a major advance in human knowledge... Why is that enough for the other theories, but not this?
I was asking to find out if it surely is, because I didn't know. colonial gives a pretty good answer above.
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Old 07-05-2012, 11:57 PM
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Nobel didn't make the Prize for advancements that had benefits to humanity. It's for achievements that are important within the field of physics itself. If (obvious, immediate) benefits are required, entire subfields of pursuit would be disallowed (e.g., cosmology).
I believe he did specify great benefit to humanity. But that doesn't mean it's immediate and direct benefit. Nobels aren't awarded every time a new atom is created. Some things are breakthroughs, others aren't. And I did just want to find out an answer to that question. It sounds like it is greatly beneficial to human knowledge by confirming the Standard Model of model of physics, and establishing it as fact to an extremely high degree of certainty.
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Old 07-06-2012, 01:08 AM
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....Antimatter's discovery a few years later is considered the first emperimental confirmation of QM....
"Emperimental." What a great portmanteau word: empirical and experimental. It would be great if it became part of standard vocabulary.
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Old 07-06-2012, 01:12 AM
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Perhaps, but what does it indicate or connote that "empirical" or "experimental" alone fail to?

Last edited by Indistinguishable; 07-06-2012 at 01:13 AM. Reason: Not that it needs to to justify itself. I'm just curious why it strikes you as so great.
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Old 07-06-2012, 02:37 AM
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It sounds like it is greatly beneficial to human knowledge by confirming the Standard Model of model of physics, and establishing it as fact to an extremely high degree of certainty.
Except that we haven't yet, there is still a lot of uncertainty as wether the new particle that the LHC has found has the actual properties of the Higgs predicted by the SM. All we know so far is there is a new particle at about the right GeV.
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Old 07-06-2012, 03:00 AM
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A victory has many fathers they say.
Brian Cox is photogenic enough

Although his grasp of thermodynamics is a bit shaky...

Quote:
Originally Posted by D:Ream
Si
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Old 07-06-2012, 03:16 AM
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Another complicating factor is that while Higgs got his name attached to the boson, three groups (totaling six physicists) came up with the idea independently. Unfortunately, a Nobel Prize can't be shared among more than three people/organizations, so some of them will be SOL.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pasta View Post
Regarding the thread topic at hand: no one has mentioned the experimental effort. The prediction of the Higgs wasn't the biggest theoretical leap we've had in the past century, but the discovery of the Higgs was pretty friggin' tough. Of course, the experimental effort has even more people to sift through looking for appropriate prize recipients...
I learned today that there's a team of 150 geeks at a supercomputing facility in Vancouver who process some of the data from CERN--about ten percent of it. There must be a small city's worth of people involved with the Higgs boson project.
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Old 07-06-2012, 08:36 AM
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Perhaps, but what does it indicate or connote that "empirical" or "experimental" alone fail to?
So what you are saying is that for all practical purposes the three words are indistinguishable ?
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Old 07-06-2012, 09:43 AM
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Another complicating factor is that while Higgs got his name attached to the boson, three groups (totaling six physicists) came up with the idea independently. Unfortunately, a Nobel Prize can't be shared among more than three people/organizations, so some of them will be SOL.
It's even more complicated than that -- Philipp Gibbs has compiled a nice rundown of the development of what has become known as the Higgs mechanism. The bottom line is that (as you know) in modern physics, it's rarely the sole genius that has a bulb lighting up above his head and writes down an idea, fully formed.

But I think Higgs will at least get a part -- I think that, while he may not be the sole architect of the mechanism of mass generation by symmetry breaking, at least he first explicitly pointed to the existence of a massive scalar in the spectrum (upon revising his paper after it had originally been rejected, reportedly for not proposing any experimentally observable effects -- ah, those where the days, when that still was a criterion in theoretical physics), and that's what's been actually discovered. Plus, the damn thing's got his name on it...
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Old 07-06-2012, 08:35 PM
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So Higgs might get part of it the same way Chauvin got a piece of the Chemistry Nobel back in 2005? Not so much for what he managed to do but for pointing others in the right direction (in this case, Schrock and Grubbs.) And I don't mean that in any sort of disparaging way.
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Old 07-06-2012, 11:35 PM
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So what you are saying is that for all practical purposes the three words are indistinguishable ?
Empirical is actually wider than experimental. It includes both experiments (i.e., manipulating the world in some way to see what happens) and the collection of purely observational data where no experimental manipulation has taken place.
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