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.
So what you are saying is that for all practical purposes the three words are indistinguishable ?
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…
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.
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.