How will the Higgs be announced by CERN?

Following the recent rumours and leaks about new particles, New Scientist has been keeping up with the story. Now they have an interesting interview with the CERN press chief about how an important new discovery is supposed to be announced. The answer is worth quoting but you should also read the full interview.

What is supposed to happen if someone really does find the Higgs at the LHC?

We have devised a protocol for dealing with a blockbuster result. If one of the collaborations has a result to announce, they inform the director general of CERN. This sets in motion a chain of events. Other experiments with potentially the same physics are given the chance to confirm the findings. If the result is big enough, like discovery of a supersymmetric particle or the Higgs boson, we inform the heads of other laboratories and all our member states that this is coming, and organise an announcement seminar at CERN.

So if they manage to prevent a leak from the original collaboration of 3000 physicists, then the 3000 physicists in the competing collaboration also get a chance to leak it, followed by any other big laboratory and politicians and civil servants from the 20 member states of CERN. If they all manage to stay quiet long enough then we will notice a major seminar being scheduled at CERN which itself will spark rampant speculation in the days before it is held. If that is really the plan then I think it will certainly reach a blog first. Perhaps the DG should just blog it himself to save the inevitable.

However, there is always a suitable conference just around the corner and I suspect that a conference presentation might be a more likely forum for the first real results. Hopefully we shall see soon enough.

4 Responses to How will the Higgs be announced by CERN?

  1. Wilhelmus de Wilde says:

    wishfull thinking ?

    • Philip Gibbs says:

      What, that they find something soon? Not at all, assuming the LHC does not break, then finding nothing would be the most remarkable and exciting result of all, but it is not very likely.

  2. Wilhelmus de Wilde says:

    After 30 years of searching, string theorists are still full of hope for the standard model and the god-particle, this of course is a good thing, but the best thing you mention Philip is that not finding that God (particle) is the most remarkable and exiting, it means that you have an open horizon in your thoughts, thak you.

  3. Bill K says:

    I think if the Higgs scenario plays out as this envisions… That there will be a period of quiet consultation and careful contemplation by all experimenters. And in the meantime nothing made public, not until the result is certain. And at last the news revealed to the world by the director general in a CERN seminar… That would be the most surprising outcome of all!

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