Higgs and Hierarchies
Jesse Thaler, MIT Center for Theoretical Physics

By smashing protons together at extreme energies, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has discovered a new particle whose properties are (tentatively) consistent with the long-anticipated Higgs boson. In this talk, I will explain the important role the Higgs boson plays in the Standard Model of particle physics, emphasizing how the Higgs is connected to deep fundamental principles like probability conservation in quantum mechanics. I will also address the seemingly unrelated question of why nature exhibits large hierarchies of scales. After all, there are forty-three orders of magnitude between the size of the visible universe and the size of fundamental particles. It turns out that this hierarchy is intrinsically connected to the properties of the Higgs boson, and I will explain how LHC discoveries of new particles beyond the Higgs could offer insights into the vastness of the universe.

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