Yes, a rumour is just a rumour

The physics corner of the blogosphere has lit up following the announcement by Tommaso Dorigo of a rumour that someone (who might be CDF at Tevatron) has found a 3 sigma signal for a light Higgs. If the rumour is true the result is likely to be announced at the ICHEP conference next week.

Such a rumour could start just because someone looked at an old two sigma signal (which counts as meaningless noise) and asked what would happen if recent data from the Tevatron had an equivalent signal. the answer would be a 3 sigma signal which is a little bit better than noise.

Of course the rumour could also have started because there really is such a result and one of the thousands of scientists in the collaboration could not keep quiet. At any rate, Tommaso spelt out the situation with no pretence than it is any more than a rumour not to be taken too seriously.

That did not stop the main stream media such as the Telegraph and New Scientist doing a little writeup about it. Then the official Fermilab twitter provided this gem: “Let’s settle this: the rumors spread by one fame-seeking blogger are just rumors. That’s it.” So the rumour is a rumour and not an official release. I think we already knew that.

The Telegraph takes this tweet to mean that the rumour of detection has been denied. In fact it just says the rumour is just a rumour.

Meanwhile Lubos Motl has used another source to strengthen the rumour to a more specific decay mode that suggests supersymmetry. I’m quite a big fan of supersymmetry myself so I hope there is something in it. However, Tommaso says that this embellishment is just based on something else he wrote about a short while ago.

The only thing for sure now is that all eyes will be on ICHEP to resolve what has happened, if anything. 

By the way,  I heard a rumour that the LHC will trump the Fermilab announcement with a signal for black hole creation, but it’s just a rumour 🙂

For what it’s worth, I completely support Tommaso for telling us about the rumour. He obviously didn’t make it up and what is the harm in raising the heat a bit in the build-up to the conference? When it comes to explaining the latest results from the accelerator experiments at a level that an interested outsider can understand, nobody does a better job than Tommaso.

Update: The BBC now also have a take on this story with some stronger denials from Fermilab.

20 Responses to Yes, a rumour is just a rumour

  1. Kea says:

    So everybody gets excited about yet another fairy field rumour, but they couldn’t care less about all the interesting neutrino physics results? Sheeesh. Just let this be over, pleeeeassse.

  2. Luboš Motl says:

    Dear Kea, I am surely excited about the neutrino results as well. But I would need a really spectacular evidence to believe e.g. CP-violation in the sector or anywhere else.

    Phil, you’ve written many decent things recently and I added your blog to my TRF blogroll – including the automatic “newest article” widget. Well, we will eventually see how many independent rumored observations there are 🙂 and how many of them have a point.

    The time when the transformation from “ignorable rumors” to the partial data that one has to look at is surely approaching if it is not already here.

    Best wishes

  3. philipgibbs says:

    Luboš, thanks for adding to your blogroll.

    Was there a typo, did you mean to say that CPT violation needs spectacular evidence, or are you saying that even CP violation is unexpected for neutrinos?

    Kea, Hope it’s not too long before you are back to blogging, all the best for your travels.

  4. Ulla says:

    There is indicies of a shrinking proton too ( at 5 sigma level), and the size must mean much for the Higgs boson search. Although protons are almost ’empty’ (quarks are almost free).

    Lubos writes in his blog 13.7, Detailed rumour … “which is what they use to break the electroweak symmetry – is known as “tan(beta)”, the tangent of a new angle relevant for supersymmetry.

    The popular values in the supersymmetric model building go between 2 and 50 – they can be relatively small but also very high. It’s been believed that the interval 2-50 is needed for the couplings to remain perturbative up to the Planck or GUT scale.”
    There would be a difference between up and down quarks. But Higgs boson has no spin.

    I think this can be linked to Keas question too. What is this angle showing? How can these (bosonic) ‘couplings’ without spin attach to quarks below Planck scale? How can the symmetry be broken with a 40% skewness?

    In the earlier post (light Higgs) Lubos also talked of some tricks made of the (fine) constants below the Planck scale.
    “the potential has to be bounded from below because the vacuum would otherwise be completely unstable and it would “escape to infinity” on this “phi space”.
    …normalization of the “phi” kinetic terms – the terms in the action with the derivatives – the only freedom we have is to rescale…
    …the potential above etc. is just an approximation associated with an energy scale. If you change the energy scale, i.e. if you go to shorter or longer distances, physics changes a bit.
    At least, the coefficients change … in the Lagrangian love to depend on the energy …the couplings change if you go to higher energies?
    The strong interactions between the quarks – the Yang-Mills interactions – have the unusual ability to grow weaker at higher energies i.e. shorter distances. This “antiscreening” comes from the “magnetic” interactions of the gluons (=the magnetic flux tubes in TGD).

    The phi goes to infinity (=primes) and this infinity is coming in on the energy field (potentials) changing the magnetism (flux tubes, gluons) so that they can attach (interact, perturbation) with the quarks. Then the Higgs boson is created as a byproduct. The main product would be the creation of a gluon/flux tube? Gluing of quarks? That is the massivation? The color and the flavor is just oscillations at different enegies, and has nothing to do with the massivation per se?
    But quarks are also dark/implicit/non-illuminous? These quarks can be ‘born in light’?
    If this scenario is true then there is no need for a Higgs? It can be any matter, any quark?

    This went long. Sorry.

    • ervin goldfain says:


      Relative to your comments, I asked Tommaso this question on his posting about the purported 3 sigma signal:

      “Could the 3 sigma observation be related not to Higgs but to different physical process or processes, possibly related to some yet undiscovered channels involving heavy quarks, among other things?”

      In my opinion, great caution is needed when interpreting Higgs results from both Tevatron and LHC. It is likely that there is some new physics hidden in these decay channels that we might not be aware of.


      • Bill K says:

        It seems to me with the high degree of filtering being applied that reduces a trillion events to a handful, you only have a chance of finding things you are actually looking for. New physics that is unanticipated will tend to get overlooked.

      • philipgibbs says:

        Bill, there is some reality to that danger but the experimenters are very aware of it and do what they can to avoid it. They take some random events in addition to the ones that are selected by the trigger logic. This means they can check that nothing interesting is being missed and that everything is calibrated correctly.

        There is still a danger that the analysis would miss a signature that nobody had anticipated, but they look for so many different things that it is not very likely. Having said that, it is true that people have reanalysed old data from LEP because they thought of a possibility that had been overlooked.

        I am not really expert enough to give more details.

  5. Ervin Goldfain says:


    You say:

    “There is still a danger that the analysis would miss a signature that nobody had anticipated, but they look for so many different things that it is not very likely”

    Here is a statement from Tommaso’s posting from a Tevatron experimentalist:

    “As pointed out by colleagues from the CDF Higgs Discovery group, a 2 sigma excess have been found in a couple of channels (lepton+neutrino+2jets & 3 b-jets) but these have already been shown at the conferences some time ago. It still could be a fluctuation, systematic effect or a software bug.”

    It tells one that there are several potential sources of error in these searches and that is relatively easy to be led astray.



    • Ulla says:

      There is also the coherence question, the topology and as a necessary consequence the hierarchy.

      From Wikipedia, Fractional quantum Hall effect: The FQH effect shows the limits of Landau’s symmetry breaking theory. Previously it was long believed that the symmetry breaking theory could explain all the important concepts and essential properties of all forms of matter. Different FQH states all have the same symmetry and cannot be described by symmetry breaking theory. Thus FQH states represent new states of matter that contain a completely new kind of order—topological order. FQH liquids indicates that there is a whole new world beyond the paradigm of symmetry breaking, a basic topological paradigm, greatly enrich our understanding of quantum phases and quantum phase transitions. The associated fractional charge, fractional statistics, non-Abelian statistics, chiral edge states, etc demonstrate the power and the fascination of emergence in many-body systems.

      The hierarchy of quantum Hall states is associated with a corresponding hierarchy of classical fluids.

      And Lubos talked of the problem of constants at sub-Planckian level 🙂

      • ervin goldfain says:


        I agree with you that fractional statistics and the emergence of complex behaviour in condensed matter physics have deep connections to the phenomenology of the Standard Model. Here is a paper that I published in 2008 where the link between chaos in gauge field theory, fractional statistics and the hierarchical structure of Standard Model parameters is analyzed in detail:



      • Ulla says:

        The chaos in gauge fields? From where did it come? From where do the symmetries come?

        here an interesting work too. Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking and Nambu–Goldstone Bosons in Quantum Many-Body Systems

        manifestations of spontaneously broken symmetries in systems that are not Lorentz invariant, which include both nonrelativistic systems as well as relativistic systems at nonzero density,

        A fundamental theorem due toWigner states that invariance of observables under certain transformation implies the existence of a unitary operator on the Hilbert space of states. If the symmetry transformation is moreover compatible with the dynamics of the system, this unitary operator commutes with the Hamiltonian and gives rise to a characteristic multiplet structure in its spectrum. However, there are systems whose dynamics is invariant under a symmetry transformation, yet this symmetry is not manifest in the spectrum or physical observables. We speak of spontaneous symmetry breaking (SSB). This phenomenon is ubiquitous in condensed matter physics where it is responsible, for example, for the peculiar behavior of superconductors, superfluids, and ferromagnets.
        it becomes a difficult problem with the increasing dimension of the representation in which the scalar field transforms.

  6. Kea says:

    Well, we only have about a week to wait until some new results are released. My guess is that there will be a new Higgs (exclusion) bound using b physics.

  7. ervin goldfain says:


    You ask:

    “The chaos in gauge fields? From where did it come? From where do the symmetries come?”

    There is by now a vast amount of research done on the chaotic dynamics of both classical and quantum non-abelian gauge fields.

    The oversimplified picture is this:

    It is known that decoherence arises as a result of entanglement between quantum systems and their environment and leads from quantum to classical behavior. Because classical Yang-Mills fields are non-linearly interacting objects, their transition to chaos represents a typical signature of all nonlinear dynamical systems. At high enough momenta, gauge fields are prone to decohere and undergo chaotic behavior as classical fields. This is why physics near or beyond the electroweak scale cannot overlook the potential for chaos and fractalization in QFT. There are many consequences of this transition including the ability to explain many of the open questions posed by the Standard Model.

    A more detailed discussion would carry us completely off topic. I urge you to research this fascinating and well-developed subject on your own.


  8. Ulla says:

    Thanks. I will study on.
    A bosonic ‘fight for survival’ where the winner is not the strongest one. What are the rules of the game? Symmetry? From where do the symmetry come?
    Another way to ask the same question is why is the electron seen as elemental, when we know it is fractal? Why is not electron changing into a muon, when a muon ought to be a fractal variant of the same serie?

    I learned that one difficulty with QED is the magnetism. It is not there. And QED determines the phases.

    • ervin goldfain says:

      “Why is not electron changing into a muon, when a muon ought to be a fractal variant of the same serie?”

      Field theories built on spaces having fractal metric (that is, spaces endowed with a Hausdorff measure) are manifestly dissipative. They exhibit what is called “intrinsic irreversibility”, that is, irreversible behavior originating in the dynamics itself without explicit reference to an environment such as a thermal reservoir. For example, breaking of CP symmetry may be understood as a manifestation of intrinsic irreversibility. This concept was introduced in physics by Ilya Prigogine and the Brussels-Austin Group (refer for example to his Nobel Lecture of 1977 “Time, Structure and Fluctuations”). It was later related to extended symmetry groups (q-deformed Lie algebras), fractional calculus and other analytic tools used to study field theories on fractal supports.

      Again, a more detailed discussion would carry us completely off topic.


  9. Ulla says:

    Thanks again.

    But not so off topic according to this.

    “Color superconductivity is therefore characterized by the breakdown of color gauge invariance. Gluons acquire a mass due to the (Meissner-Anderson) Higgs mechanism. Gluons!!! = flux tubes!

    Stability is a minimum of energy state, as Lubos pointed out. Not symmetry.
    It could be maximal negentropy too. Not chaos. In biology chaos is needed to create order, as Prigogine said.

    “Up to boundary effects the gauge potential is a total divergence and that the magnetic field has to vanish. This phenomenon is known as the Meissner effect.”

    A vanishing magnetic field sounds like zero magnetic field = entirely in particle form. Can this be reality too?

    Lubos: “the potential has to be bounded from below because the vacuum would otherwise be completely unstable and it would “escape to infinity” on this “phi space”. – what is ‘below’?

    Lubos: “The strong interactions between the quarks – the Yang-Mills interactions – have the unusual ability to grow weaker at higher energies i.e. shorter distances. This “antiscreening” comes from the “magnetic” interactions of the gluons”
    (=the magnetic flux tubes in TGD). But if these magnetic flux tubes vanish? What happen then? Lubos didn’t tell that!

    A phase transition happen?

    • ervin goldfain says:


      It looks like our discussion needs to continue.

      As you probably know, QCD is riddled with many unsettled questions and the emergence of massive gluons due to color superconductivity is one representative example. It is possible that a mechanism similar to the Meissner effect may take place in QCD although, to my knowledge, it has not been experimentally proven beyond doubt. One can presumably call this breakdown of color invariance a “phase transition” whose result is gluon massivation. But this is not an isolated example of symmetry breaking in QCD. There are other symmetry breaking scenarios in QCD, for instance, violation of scale invariance stemming from the need to specify a scale defining the color strength and the strong CP problem related to the presence of the theta-vacuum.

      On this note, I wish to add that massivation of both quarks and gluons may be understood as being produced by a persistent background of statistical fluctuations created by un-damped quantum corrections. In a sense, this random background “slows down” the propagation of free gauge bosons and leads to massivation in a manner that echoes the Meissner effect. Likewise, fermion masses arise from bifurcations and progressive instabilities in field theory, see below:


  10. Ulla says:

    I looked who was the one I discuss this with, and see you have written a book. ‘On emergent physics’. So I guess you know this.

    I have looked at the topology to find out where it comes from. And it took me to this question. I found that the topology cannot be emergent, so it must be inherent in the quantum world as a hidden pattern. You talked in the earlier link about the importance of these patterns.

    But this hidden pattern can develope and grow when it has reached our classic world. This hidden pattern is not any hidden dimension.

    The topology is very evident in condensed matter physics, and it shows that the interaction is like a mirror, but the responsible forces act according to some symmetry that is scalar and fractal, and create a soliton. It is this soliton that is the interaction, not the gauge force itself. This led me then to this magnetic oscillation, inherent in EM-fields, but also in spin in QCD. However it is not in QED. I guess these magnetic fields can also make a superposition, as they are bosonic.

    My interest in this is in finding out what differ living matter from ordinary matter. One thing is the soliton that is a very important property in living matter, as in the nerve pulse, quantum tunnellings etc.

    Matti (‘Mr TGD’) also talks of the interception of p-adics and rationals, so this field cannot be dualistic. It is some kind of rotational symmetry (lightlike 3-surfaces), and magnetism is the factor that works on those vortices. If there was an inflanatory time in Big Bang the topology must be preserved also at that chaotic process, and the topology is one such way. Full quantum chaos should have still been a chaos?

    Xiao-Gang Wen said string theory and condensed matter was opposed to one another. Is any theory at all proven beyond doubt in the QCD-jungle? Everything is possible. In condensed matter there are real results, at least.

    You say: “There are other symmetry breaking scenarios in QCD, for instance, violation of scale invariance”. – what is that, if not scale hierarchy? That the particles are fractal between the families?

    “persistent background of statistical fluctuations created by un-damped quantum corrections.” – These corrections led to the magnetic fluctuations and constant changes. Why could not even the Planck constant go through a phase change and make the superpositions possible? How could you explain the bosonic properties and wave-particle-duality in any other way? The existence of a minimal form of matter, also with a gauge field. The bosonic and fermionic fields could just change size.

    I admit this is far beyond my competence, and I don’t even know the vocabulary, when I am a biologist. I should have been silent, but I wanted to test this magnetic hypothesis. Thanks.
    At the end everything is just hypotheses.

    Thanks also to Mr. Gibbs for this.

    • Ervin Goldfain says:


      Sorry but, as much as I would like to continue our conversation on this blog, I feel that this is not the right place to do it. You are asking many questions that cover a lot of ground and it would take me a long time to explain. I presume we can discuss these issues elsewhere.



  11. […] the rumours of the last week, there will be a lot of attention focused on the Tevatron Higgs searches. The […]

%d bloggers like this: