Imperial College London

Hunt for Higgs boson closes in at LHC

Large Hadron Collider

Listen to interviews with two Imperial physicists about the new results announced from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) this week - News

By Simon Levey
Wednesday 14 December 2011

The Higgs, the Standard Model and Imperial:

  • Listen to interviews with two Imperial physicists about the latest LHC results
  • The Higgs boson is central to the Standard Model of particle physics, that describes how fundamental particles like quarks, electrons and neutrinos interact with three fundamental forces: the electromagnetic force, the weak nuclear force and the strong nuclear force.
  • The almost universally held Standard Model was developed in the 1960's by the Nobel Prize winning Abdus Salam, who was Professor at Imperial College London at the time, and his colleagues. The Higgs field, which was also postulated in the early 1960's by physicists including Imperial's Professor Tom Kibble, is what is of most interest to particle physicists as the medium through which mass is conveyed.

Physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) have announced preliminary new results that may point to the existence of the Higgs boson. While it has never yet been seen, this particle, or set of particles, is believed to convey mass to the fundamental particles that form the building blocks of the universe.

At a special seminar at CERN, the home of the LHC in Geneva, scientists working on the Atlas and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiments presented the latest data in their hunt for this elusive particle. By comparing the results from the two particle detectors, they have revealed the best indication so far of what the Higgs boson could be like.

The scientists say these new results are not yet sufficient to draw definitive conclusions as to the existence or not of the long sought after boson, but they expect the question should be solved within the next year, when they expect to be able to analyse around three times the amount of data collected in 2011.

Researchers from Imperial are amongst those who designed, engineered and built the CMS detector and are now heavily involved in the analysis of data since the 12,500 tonne, 21-metre-long structure began operating in 2009. CMS measures the properties and energies of new particles that are created when protons collide with one another whilst travelling at just under 300 million metres per second around the LHC.

The high energy conditions created in these collisions are similar to those that occurred in the first instants of the universe, immediately after the Big Bang.

Dr Jonathan Hays from the High Energy Physics group is part of the Imperial team working on the CMS. In the interview below, he discusses this week's announcement from the LHC and where the new findings may take physics in the future.

Professor Jerome Gauntlett is chair in Theoretical Physics at Imperial. In the interview below, he discusses how the ongoing search for the Higgs Boson may change following this week's announcement.

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