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Michael Schmitt | USLHC | USA

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Whoa — slow down!

Everyone is excited about the prospect of settling the question of the Higgs boson – does it exist, or doesn’t it?

Of course, we are talking about the Standard Model Higgs Bosons. Higgs bosons in other models such as Supersymmetry have different properties (decay modes & production cross sections) so the negative results of searches from CMS and ATLAS do not necessarily pertain to them. (And keep in mind that no theorist accepts the Standard Model as correct, so focussing exclusively on the SM Higgs boson seems not very wise…)

That said, why do we – the particle physics community – set a deadline of the “end of the year” for coming up with a definitive statement about the Higgs boson? Hopes of finding it have been alive for decades, so surely we do not have to rush through the last months and weeks of the analysis of brand new data. The gravity of the Higgs question requires that no mistakes be made, and that the results of the analyses are definitive. We shouldn’t skip any cross checks or leave auxiliary methods out of the game plan in the interest of getting an answer faster.

If today there is any particle physics analysis that requires the highest standards of our field, then this crucial and fundamental test of the Standard Model (even as a mere effective theory) is it.

My hope is that our eagerness and excitement to have the answer to the Higgs question is tempered by our desire to get the right answer, one that will not require revision a few months after we have communicated our conclusions to the world…

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