Matthew Buckley is writing a nice series of articles for the Boston Review about The Search for New Physics at CERN . He is aiming to give enough of the background for readers to get an idea of how recent observations may indicate something beyond the “standard model” of elementary particles. If confirmed by subsequent observations this will provide a significant constraint on the kind of theory that can bring gravitation into the big house of quantum theory – and by doing so may help to focus the currently diverse efforts on a track that has the best chance of success.
This is a great series of articles, but I do have one quibble.
In his discussion of the Higgs discovery Buckley says:
“How likely was it that the bump was due to chance? Not very likely: 1 in 3,488,560.”
But I think there is a difference (recently pointed out by the ASA in its “statement on P-values”) between the likelihood that the bump *was* due to chance and the probability that such a bump *would* occur in the absence of non-chance effects.
I suspect that Buckley is well aware of this as he does not make the same error in his subseqent statement about the new observation:
“Similar calculations show that the ATLAS bump at 750 GeV could occur by chance only once in 6285 tries.”
Indeed his expressed fear of being trapped into working on the explanation of an effect that is not real shows that he doesn’t really think that the probability of this new bump being just a chance occurrence not due to a real effect is as low as 1 in 6285.