The Higgs boson has the Nobel committee in a bind

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“In the cafeteria of CERN hundreds of languages are spoken, but no egos”





Jose Ignacio Latorre offers this afternoon (19.30) in the room Kutxa (Andia street) a conference on the recent discovery of the Higgs boson, which could confirm the consistency of the standard model that describes the world of elementary particles. Tomorrow will offer the same talk in Bilbao Bizkaia Aretoa under the organization of the Foundation and collaboration Euskampus Nanogune CIC, DIPC and UPV. Latorre aims to “put some certainty in this life passing on the values of science.”

Question. Why is this discovery so important?

Response. is important because scientists had a very accurate model to describe the world of elementary particles, but we lacked Higgs. Without Higgs had a serious problem. He was nominated in the 60’s and have been 50 years to find it. At first he rode a very large accelerator, called LEP, and was not found. Now with the LHC, if not managed to find the Higgs could be looking at a package error in the way of understanding the world of elementary particles.

Q. Have you calmed down a lot to the scientific community?

A. Yes. Intellectually we are on track, which was in doubt. Moreover, while it may seem silly, we built a very large machine that has worked for 15 years, with 10,000 people. It is always a pleasure to discover something new. The spirit of scientists is now much higher.

Q. But it seems that there is room for doubt and that the finding must be put in quarantine.

R. In this business you have to be very cautious. But we have seen that there is a new particle that has properties that match what we expect of a Higgs. There is clearly the particle. What happens is that in the channels where we see how it breaks down, it does in a way that does not correspond exactly with the standard model, although the error is minimal deflection. It was decided to extend the operation of the LHC accelerator until December, three months longer than planned, to continue collecting data and have a clearer view of whether it is a standard Higgs, if it is a nonstandard higgs or what exactly.


Jose Ignacio Latorre was born in Barcelona in 1959. He is Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Barcelona and Managing Director Benasque Science Center (in the Aragonese Pyrenees). He studied at the French School in Barcelona and a PhD in Physics in 1985. His specialty is the quantum and elementary particles. Among his hobbies are great wine and cuisine.

Q. For those who belittle the discovery, what would you say?

A. Those who are dedicated to science we are accustomed to being seen as the ultimate monkey. There is the funding we receive … For unbelievers, I will give two examples. The first was Einstein and the theory of relativity. His equations are used in all GPS, because if you do not lose more than 11 miles a day. And I swear that Einstein did not know you were going to implement those ideas. Another example is the quantum mechanics behind lasers, encoding information. In the short term, the Higgs will not do absolutely nothing. Now, to discover the Higgs system we have built the most important information processing of the earth. There are about a million computers running at an enormous rate.

Q. What applications of this technology has been created to find the Higgs?

A. We are learning to manipulate massive data. This concatenates very well with what Google does. Google is the application to handle massive data in our daily lives. It has also been greatly improved electronics. All technological arrive without us noticing. Rarely is known that the progress taking place in the CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) are reflected in the day to day. A few years ago, a researcher at CERN was awarded the Nobel, and it filled us with satisfaction. When we do an MRI, we are not aware that there have been people who have speculated on how to rotate the spin of the nuclei of atoms and process that information, so that today we look inside the body without touching.

Q. Does the Higgs deserves a Nobel community?

A. It will be the first major test of the laws of the Nobel. Higgs has the Nobel Prize in trouble, because this award can be given only three people and a proven fact. The Higgs boson was proposed 60 years ago and there are six people involved. What will they do? Nobody will read that the Higgs has found one. The teams have discovered consist of some 100,000 people. The bar of The Wars is a joke next to the cafeteria at CERN. At CERN hundred languages are spoken, but all have one goal: to investigate and discover. The egos have been in the background on this discovery. The scientific community is asking the Nobel committee to consider first the option of not giving the award to three people, but it is a collective Nobel. And he deserves it.

“90% of scientists in history lives. Science is a baby ”

Q. Does it not a bit afraid this matter and antimatter in the Universe?

A. It’s not going to happen. In the early universe was what is known as recombination. Matter against antimatter is annihilated and what is left in the universe is the remnant of matter. Now our world is essentially matter. We can generate artificially and instantly turns to recombine and destroy. But we should not be scary, because it is very difficult to create antimatter.

P. We start from scratch? Does God not exist?

A. As a scientist I am extremely respectful, because I have an answer for anything. In my talks I’m just explaining evidence, that there was a big bang and we see through the super novas how the universe expands. This is what the law says. From there back, everyone can think what they want.

Q. What great phenomena remain to be discovered?

A. It is big, small and complex. In big: we are receiving data from the satellite mass Planck and this allows us to discover many things. In recent years we have known, for example to 1.7 planets for every star. This means that the probability that there is life out there are very high. We are also discovering the end of the universe or the Milky Way will collide with Andromeda … In the small, if the Higgs is not the standard opens the door to a deeper level of composition. And how complex is the opportunity of biology, how to combine things to create something. There will be great progress. We expect some happy years, because we are the first generations who have lived with science. Do you know that 90% of scientists are alive? There have been so few in all history, that today almost all are still alive. Science is a baby now.

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