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Leaked and Deleted Higgs Video: A Cause for ConCERN?

Although CERN scientists are expected to make a huge Higgs boson announcement at 3:00 AM Eastern Time tomorrow morning, a leaked video suggests they've already found a new particle.

In the video that has since been taken down (but uploaded at various news outlets), CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela said, "We have found a new particle." He added that, "This is the most massive such particle that exists, if we confirm all of this, which I think we will."

He didn't say decisively if this new particle is the long-sought Higgs boson, and he added that more experiments are needed to ascertain the particle's properties.

Nonetheless, he expressed enthusiasm for the discovery of this Higgs-like particle which may open up unforeseen research avenues:

"And that is very, very significant. This is something that may, in the end, be one of the biggest observations of any new phenomena in our field in the last 30 or 40 years, going way back to the discovery of quarks, for example."

While this discovery is very exciting, CERN's accidental leak blamed on "technical problems" – and, more importantly, their responses to the leak – were ridiculous. Right now, CERN spokespeople are telling reporters that this video is "one of several videos that we recorded to cover all our bases," for a variety of hypothetical Higgs announcements. Smells like BS to me.

The leaked video, which was dated July 4, via the Telegraph.

To set the stage, here's a brief timeline of today's leak events:

10:40 AM ET: Kate Travis of Science News uncovers the video on CERN's website.

11:15 AM ET: CERN has password-protected their video, restricting access to the public.

11:40 AM ET: CERN spokespersons start telling reporters that the video was one of several videos made for a variety of hypothetical announcements tomorrow.

CERN spokeswoman Corinne Pralavorio told Science News that "Even we in the press office do not know what they are going to announce tomorrow." But would the spokesperson for the CMS experiment not even know the results when these videos were recorded? That seems unlikely. If true, CERN was recording these videos much too early.

This wasn't a presidential election, requiring each candidate to prepare a winner's speech and a loser's speech, just in case. CERN should have known what they were going to announce on July 4 before purportedly making a series of videos announcing different results, even if they were meant to be kept secret.

Even if CERN has a set of videos covering all of their bases, does it really make sense to muddy an already complex situation with potentially misleading videos? And if CERN recorded a video for all possible scenarios, why can't they release the other videos for clarification?

I wonder what these other videos would announce if they do indeed exist. A week ago, the Physics Central team came up with a list of potential scenarios for the actual Higgs announcement tomorrow, and I really hope they filmed a few of our suggestions. A few of my favorites would have made for great TV, in my humble opinion:

3. Fermilab scientists interrupt the announcement, saying, "Yo CERN, I'm really happy for you and I'mma let you finish. But the top quark was one of the best particle physics discoveries of all time. One of the best of ALL TIME!"

Odds: 49 in 100

6. When asked why Higgs results appear to have leaked to bloggers early, a CERN spokesperson replies, "That's a clown question, bro."

Odds: 15 in 100

12. CERN announces a large theft of antimatter; a worldwide manhunt for Dan Brown ensues.

Odds: 1 in 2000000

Even though these scenarios were unlikely, you've got to cover all of your bases. Hopefully, these alternative videos will surface over the next few days (although I wouldn't count on it).

In all seriousness, the official announcement will arrive soon enough (3:00 AM Eastern Time this morning). If you want to watch the announcement online, you can do so through CERN's webcast.


If you want to keep up with Hyperspace, AKA Brian, you can follow him on Twitter.


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