Ooo, They Might Have Found a New Particle

We interrupt your morning stupor for some news of our universe's most fundamental particles! The NYT advises us of the hottest news in physics today: researchers at Fermilab's particle accelerator think that they may have discovered the Higgs boson, a heretofore purely theoretical particle that endows certain things with mass, such as your ill-informed arguments about the nature of the universe, if you casually toss around the term "Higgs boson" like you know what it means.

But is it all just a statistical mirage?

The key phrase, everyone agrees, is "if it holds up." The experimenters estimate that there is a less than a quarter of 1 percent chance their bump is a statistical fluctuation, making it what physicists call a three-sigma result, enough to attract attention but not enough to claim an actual discovery. Three-sigma bumps, as every physicist knows, can come and go.

Shit. In journalism the standard of "actual discovery" is a 51% likelihood of truth—43% in tabloids and internet blogs! Be the first one at your office to celebrate this esoteric discovery! Take the day off!

[NYT. Photo of totally unrelated physicist in stereotypical "Particle Discovery" pose: AP]