Physics

An Experimental Discovery in the Search for the Higgs Boson
Benjamin Kilminster, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

The Higgs boson has been the subject of decades of particle physics research due to its unique role as a provider of mass to the particles of the universe. Although it existed copiously about a ten billionth of a second after the Big Bang, it is difficult now to capture one and study it in the current universe. It is a particle which is too small to see with a microscope, and so unstable that if it were produced, it would immediately decays into other particles. To capture and study such an exotic particle, physicists have built large accelerators to propel particles to high energies, colliding them together, such that their energy is converted into rare and unstable forms of matter. Snapshots of these collisions are captured by particle detectors, providing data about the energies, trajectories, and identity of particles produced. This information can be reconstructed to determine if a Higgs boson was produced. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the Center for European Nuclear Research (CERN) is at the frontier of this research, producing particle collisions of sufficient energy to produce Higgs bosons. Physicists comb through this data, searching for the particular signatures a Higgs boson would produce, such as its decay to particles of light.

There is now enough data from the LHC to identify the Higgs boson, and a discovery has recently been announced. This talk will cover the experimental methods for detecting and observing such a new sub-atomic particle. Read more at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Higgs_boson, and the links within.

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Physics

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