The Statistics Behind the Higgs Boson
Whether the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland finds the Higgs boson depends on scientists' abilities to interpret extremely complex data sets correctly. Here's how they do it.
What's the Latest Development?
Scientists behind world's most powerful physics experiment have released new data analysis, updating the search for the Higgs boson, a fundamental particle posited by the Standard Model. Combining the results of two separate laboratories at CERN, where the Large Hadron Collider collides, the overall Higgs signal stands at 4.3σ (σ being the Greek letter sigma). "The term refers to the amount of variability in a given set of data: whether the data points are all clustered together, or very spread out."
What's the Big Idea?
The higher the sigma value of a given data set, the higher the confidence that the data is not the result of a random error. How is the sigma value calculated, you ask? One sigma is measured against one standard deviation, which measures how far a given data point is from the average of data points. In previous experiments at CERN, the sigma value of the Higgs has been lower: 2.3sigma. Despite this relatively low statistical confidence, most physicists thought the result was correct given current physics.
Photo credit: shutterstock.com
How a cataclysm worse than what killed the dinosaurs destroyed 90 percent of all life on Earth.
While the demise of the dinosaurs gets more attention as far as mass extinctions go, an even more disastrous event called "the Great Dying” or the “End-Permian Extinction” happened on Earth prior to that. Now scientists discovered how this cataclysm, which took place about 250 million years ago, managed to kill off more than 90 percent of all life on the planet.
A new study discovers the “liking gap” — the difference between how we view others we’re meeting for the first time, and the way we think they’re seeing us.
We tend to be defensive socially. When we meet new people, we’re often concerned with how we’re coming off. Our anxiety causes us to be so concerned with the impression we’re creating that we fail to notice that the same is true of the other person as well. A new study led by Erica J. Boothby, published on September 5 in Psychological Science, reveals how people tend to like us more in first encounters than we’d ever suspect.
Using advanced laser technology, scientists at NASA will track global changes in ice with greater accuracy.
Leaving from Vandenberg Air Force base in California this coming Saturday, at 8:46 a.m. ET, the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2 — or, the "ICESat-2" — is perched atop a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, and when it assumes its orbit, it will study ice layers at Earth's poles, using its only payload, the Advance Topographic Laser Altimeter System (ATLAS).
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.