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Andrew Zimmerman Jones

Five Faced Higgs a Possibility

By June 22, 2010

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Over a month ago, experimenters at Fermilab's DZero collaboration discovered an unusual asymmetry between the annihilation of matter and anti-matter in their experiment. It was clear, just on the surface of it, that there had to be some unusual mechanism at work here beyond what the Standard Model of particle physics outlines, but it takes some time to go from new experimental evidence to a full-blown theoretical explanation.

But in this world, "some time" grows shorter and shorter. In fact, it took very little time for Bogdan A. Dobrescu, Patrick J. Fox, and Adam Martin to come up with a theoretical explanation. They submitted their paper to the arXiv on May 23, just 9 days after the May 14 announcement by Fermilab of the DZero results. (If their theory holds up, this may someday be described as a very exciting 9 days!)

And their explanation has certainly caught on, because it represents some substantial changes from the existing theory. Right now, the Standard Model has been confirmed in almost all of its particulars ... except for the elusive Higgs Boson, which is the particle which explains how objects gain mass. But according to this explanation, the DZero results can be explained if you apply supersymmetry to the situation, but it yields some unexpected results ... namely that there could be 5 different variations of the Higgs Boson, and they would interact with the known particles more strongly than physicists had previously anticipated. (The supersymmetry angle is explained in some depth by Lubos Motl, surprisingly clearly, over at The Reference Frame blog.)

In a way, linking this asymmetry to the Higgs Boson makes perfect sense. As Adam Martin of Fermilab told the BBC, "What's difficult is to have those large effects without damaging anything else we've already measured. The Standard Model fits just about every test we've thrown at it. To fit in a new effect in one particular place is not easy." But since the Higgs is the one aspect of the Standard Model that hasn't been observed yet, I guess it's the natural place to look for some new physics hiding out.

There's a lot of great coverage on this, but of them my favorite is the radio interview with an experimenter from DZero and also the two theoretical physicists who came up with this multiple Higgs interpretation. It does an excellent job of showing how scientists really think about their work, and cutting through all of the hype. The interview is an hour long, though, so not everyone may be able to devote the time to it ... but I certainly found it worthwhile.

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June 22, 2010 at 3:31 am
(1) Luboš Motl says:

Dear Andrew, I really do think that you still misunderstand the relationships between all these ideas.

The existence of “five Higgs bosons” is not an “unexpected” consequence of a new paper. It’s a basic fact about supersymmetry that has been known for 30 years. Every supersymmetric theory has to have at least 5 Higgs bosons – with this particular number being the most likely one. The number 5 has been known since the very first day when the term “Minimal Supersymmetric Standard Model” appeared in the early 1980s.

You also overestimate the particular paper by Dobrescu et al. It’s a SUSY model of the importance that appears in hep-ph preprints pretty much every day. They just mentioned the Fermilab observations and placed them in the context of the uplifted supersymmetry.

But the observations, even if the signal is real, don’t really imply that SUSY must be uplifted. The signal would be an argument for new physics, most likely SUSY physics, but uplifted SUSY is just a small portion of the possibilities that are compatible with such signals. SUSY has a lot of potential for new sources of CP-violation in most of the parameter space. A big portion of the parameter space has actually been excluded exactly because it predicts stronger effects of new physics than those that are still conceivably consistent with the known observations.

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