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Fermilab scientists give their data one last squeeze

Tevatron tantalizes ahead of CERN’s big day

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Just ahead of this week’s scheduled press conference by CERN, at which LHC researchers are due to announce the result of their latest data analysis, Fermilab scientists have put a narrower value on the possible Higgs Boson mass.

In what they say is “squeezing the last bit” out of their long data collection (500 trillion collisions since 2001), scientists from the CDF and DZero collaborations at the Tevatron say the Higgs Boson mass should be between 115 and 135 GeV/c2 or about 130 that of the proton.

That announcement will provide a useful cross-check for the data to be announced by CERN on July 4. Tevatron’s observation of possible Higgs Boson signals through the particle’s decay into a pair of bottom quarks; LHC, on the other hand, looks for energetic photons as the decay product.

DZero’s co-spokesperson Gregorio Berndardi, a high-energy physicist at the University of Paris, says “We know exactly what signal we are looking for in our data, and we see strong indications of the production and decay of Higgs bosons in a crucial decay mode with a pair of bottom quarks, which is difficult to observe at the LHC. We are very excited about it."

The combined DZero-CDF result is given a statistical significance of 2.9 sigma (that is, there’s a one-in-550 chance of it being a statistical fluke) – not enough to proclaim a “discovery”, but good corroboration of earlier results announced last March.

The Tevatron data can be viewed here. ®

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