Last month I was at the annual Higgs Hunting workshop, in Orsay and Paris, France. Starting less than a week after EPS, it didn’t have much in the way of new results. What it did give us is an opportunity to talk through where we are and where we’re going. What do we know about the Higgs so far? What do we still need to find out, and how do we go about it? Why aren’t the coffees stronger, or at least larger?
It’s true, the last question isn’t about the Higgs, but it does reflect that a lot of the learning and discussion went on during the coffee breaks. (I should stress in case the organizing committee reads this that the drinks and snacks at the coffee breaks were, on the whole, quite excellent.) But of course we had talks too, and you can see both the slides and videos here. I should warn you, though, that the talks are very technical — even more technical than might be usual for a Higgs conference, because it was generally assumed that participants already know the strategy for hunting the Higgs.
My talk was about the CMS search for Higgs decays to bottom quark pairs. It covered four analyses, which are different from each other not because of what the Higgs decays into but because of what it’s produced in association with. Without extra particles, we can’t see the Higgs in this decay channel because of all the bottom quark pairs from QCD. But this direction of looking at different production mechanisms is also where Higgs searches as a whole are going, because ultimately Higgs production tells us as much about what the Higgs interacts with as Higgs decay. And what we really hope to find is some difference from the Standard Model in those interactions.
From what we’ve seen so far, it looks like we’re hunting precisely the Standard Model Higgs. But we are far from an exact answer; we haven’t even officially established evidence for the Higgs to bottom quark pair decay at all, yet. So we’ll keep hunting, and hope the Higgs Beast turns out to be subtly different from the one we’re expecting.