In mid December last year, iTWire reported on the presentation of interim results from both the ATLAS and CMS experiments at the Large Hadron Collider. Both experiments reported that they'd seen something at around 125 GeV but were not sufficiently confident in the data to make a formal announcement.
Earlier today, we speculated that a positive announcement was imminent and finally this evening we were able to report on the success of the CMS experiment in finding what most people are calling the Higgs Boson, although the experimental teams are still coy about using that name.
After Joe Incandela (of the CMS team) presented his findings - 125.3 +/- 0.6 GeV at 4.9 sigma significance (just missing the elusive 5.0 sigma discussed in our earlier), Fabiola Gianotti offered the ATLAS result: 126.5 GeV at 5.0 sigma (no expression of error margin was given).
Both results were greeted with the kind of cheering, whistling and clapping normally reserved for visiting rock stars!
The two experiments made use of quite different techniques to determine their results and at the end of her presentation, Gianotti said that the two teams would be publishing jointly later this month - hopefully a mathematical combining of the data will lead both to a more precise result and and improvement in the confidence level (possibly as high as six sigma).
Video of the presentation was streamed live from CERN; typically the recorded video is available from the site some days later. In the interim, presentation slides from both Joe Incandela and Fabiola Gianotti are available for immediate download.
All of the speakers, including Fabiloa, Incandela and event host (and Director of CERN) Rolf-Dieter Heuer were careful to avoid directly calling this discovery the Higgs Boson; instead it was a "Higgs-like object" or a "new particle that is consistent with a Higgs Boson" or even " 'a' Higgs Boson." Of interest though were the great lengths both teams went to to demonstrate that there were no similar objects anywhere close to this object's mass.
Asked from the audience whether this really was the Higgs Boson, Heuer responded, "As a layman, I would now say, I think we have it. (To the audience) you agree?" (to rousing applause).