Science is the poetry of Nature.

Contributing Authors
Posts tagged "Higgs Boson"


Higgs Boson 3D

Simple interactive 3D diagram of the Higgs Boson rendered in WebGL, by Leander Herzog.

Try it out for yourself here

UPDATE: Leander Herzog has a Tumblr here

(via kenobi-wan-obi)


Physicists plan to build

a bigger LHC

Accelerator ring would be 100 kilometres around and run at seven times the energy of the Large Hadron Collider.


The Higgs, The Dilaton & The Big Bang

The world of particle physics was vindicated upon the discovery of the Higgs Boson (the long-sought after particle that plays a crucial role in granting elementary particles mass). Obviously, the Higgs is a key component in tackling the nature of matter itself, but now it appears as if the Higgs my provide valuable insight to the expansion of the universe and the events that came after the big bang.

To read the full article, see:

image credit: NASA / WMAP Science Team

In an unprecedented gesture in the history of particle physics, Sergio Bertolucci, Director of Research, announced this morning that CERN is going to do something unusual: give away fundamental particles.

“Given the interest manifested over the past years by the general public for the Higgs boson search, we felt that we had to give some back as a token of appreciation”, said Dr Bertolucci. “As CERN, we have always believed in sharing the results of our research, and the time has come to make that tangible. This is our way of saying thanks for the incredible level of enthusiasm that has greeted this discovery”. The new particle’s discovery was announced at a special seminar on 4 July last year.

Both the ATLAS and CMS experiments have generously accepted to donate some of their precious Higgs bosons. Particles such as Higgs bosons are created from the energy released in proton-proton collisions in the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). However, Higgs bosons are extremely rare, being created only once out of one million million such collisions.

“We hope the lucky few who will receive a Higgs boson will cherish them as much as we do”, said Dr Bertolucci.

Each boson will come with a complete set of instructions on how to properly care for it. To enter this lottery, please send an e-mail to A Higgs boson will be sent to the ten lucky winners chosen randomly from all requests received within 24 hours of publishing this post.


Supercharging the search for secrets of the universe

image 1: The Large Hadron Collider at CERN faces a two-year shutdown so engineers can ramp up its maximum energy.
image 2: Proton-proton collisions during the search for the Higgs boson. Photo: AFP
image 3: A collision event between two lead ions in the Large Hadron Collider as observed by the ALICE detector. Photo: Supplied
image 4: A simulated black hole created by the Large Hadron Collider. Photo: Supplied

When it comes to shutting down the most powerful atom smasher ever built, it’s not simply a question of pressing the off switch.

In the French-Swiss countryside on the far side of Geneva, staff at the Cern particle physics laboratory are taking steps to wind down the Large Hadron Collider. After the latest run of experiments ends next month, the huge superconducting magnets that line the LHC’s 27km-long tunnel must be warmed up, slowly and gently, from -271 Celsius to room temperature. Only then can engineers descend into the tunnel to begin their work.

The machine that last year helped scientists snare the elusive Higgs boson - or a convincing subatomic impostor - faces a two-year shutdown while engineers perform repairs that are needed for the collider to ramp up to its maximum energy in 2015 and beyond. The work will beef up electrical connections in the machine that were identified as weak spots after an incident four years ago that knocked the collider out for more than a year.

The accident happened days after the LHC was first switched on in September 2008, when a short circuit blew a hole in the machine and sprayed six tonnes of helium into the tunnel that houses the collider. Soot was scattered over 700 metres. Since then, the machine has been forced to run at near half its design energy to avoid another disaster.

The particle accelerator, which reveals new physics at work by crashing together the innards of atoms at close to the speed of light, fills a circular, subterranean tunnel a staggering eight kilometres in diameter. Physicists will not sit around idle while the collider is down. There is far more to know about the new Higgs-like particle, and clues to its identity are probably hidden in the piles of raw data the scientists have already gathered, but have had too little time to analyse.

But the LHC was always more than a Higgs hunting machine. There are other mysteries of the universe that it may shed light on. What is the dark matter that clumps invisibly around galaxies? Why are we made of matter, and not antimatter? And why is gravity such a weak force in nature? “We’re only a tiny way into the LHC programme,” says Pippa Wells, a physicist who works on the LHC’s 7000-tonne Atlas detector. “There’s a long way to go yet.”

The hunt for the Higgs boson, which helps explain the masses of other particles, dominated the publicity around the LHC for the simple reason that it was almost certainly there to be found. The lab fast-tracked the search for the particle, but cannot say for sure whether it has found it, or some more exotic entity.

“The headline discovery was just the start,” says Wells. “We need to make more precise measurements, to refine the particle’s mass and understand better how it is produced, and the ways it decays into other particles.” Scientists at Cern expect to have a more complete identikit of the new particle by March, when repair work on the LHC begins in earnest.

By its very nature, dark matter will be tough to find, even when the LHC switches back on at higher energy. The label “dark” refers to the fact that the substance neither emits nor reflects light. The only way dark matter has revealed itself so far is through the pull it exerts on galaxies.

Studies of spinning galaxies show they rotate with such speed that they would tear themselves apart were there not some invisible form of matter holding them together through gravity. There is so much dark matter, it outweighs by five times the normal matter in the observable universe.

The search for dark matter on Earth has failed to reveal what it is made of, but the LHC may be able to make the substance. If the particles that constitute it are light enough, they could be thrown out from the collisions inside the LHC. While they would zip through the collider’s detectors unseen, they would carry energy and momentum with them. Scientists could then infer their creation by totting up the energy and momentum of all the particles produced in a collision, and looking for signs of the missing energy and momentum.

One theory, called supersymmetry, proposes that the universe is made from twice as many varieties of particles as we now understand. The lightest of these particles is a candidate for dark matter.

Wells says that ramping up the energy of the LHC should improve scientists’ chances of creating dark matter: “That would be a huge improvement on where we are today. We would go from knowing what 4 per cent of the universe is, to around 25 per cent.”

Teasing out the constituents of dark matter would be a major prize for particle physicists, and of huge practical value for astronomers and cosmologists who study galaxies.

“Although the big PR focus has been on the Higgs, in fact looking for new particles to provide clues to the big open questions is the main reason for having the LHC,” says Gerry Gilmore, professor of experimental philosophy at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge.

“Reality on the large scale is dark matter, with visible matter just froth on the substance. So we focus huge efforts on trying to find out if dark matter is a set of many elementary particles, and hope that some of those particles’ properties will also help to explain some other big questions. So far, astronomy has provided all the information on dark matter, and many of us are working hard to deduce more of its properties. Finding something at the LHC would be wonderful in helping us in understanding that. Of course one needs both the LHC and astronomy. The LHC may find the ingredients nature uses, but astronomy delivers the recipe nature made reality from.”

Another big mystery the Large Hadron Collider may help crack is why we are made of matter instead of antimatter. The big bang should have flung equal amounts of matter and antimatter into the early universe, but today almost all we see is made of matter. What happened at the dawn of time to give matter the upper hand?

The question is central to the work of scientists on the LHCb detector. Collisions inside LHCb produce vast numbers of particles called beauty quarks, and their antimatter counterparts, both of which were common in the aftermath of the big bang. Through studying their behaviour, scientists hope to understand why nature seems to prefer matter over antimatter.

Turning up the energy of the LHC may just give scientists an answer to the question of why gravity is so weak. The force that keeps our feet on the ground may not seem puny, but it certainly is. With just a little effort, we can jump in the air, and so overcome the gravitational pull of the whole six thousand billion billon tonnes of the planet. The other forces of nature are far stronger.

One explanation for gravity’s weakness is that we experience only a fraction of the force, with the rest acting through microscopic, curled up extra dimensions of space. “The gravitational field we see is only the bit in our three dimensions, but actually there are lots of gravitational fields in the fourth dimension, the fifth dimension, and however many more you fancy,” says Andy Parker, professor of high energy physics at Cambridge University. “It’s an elegant idea. The only price you have to pay is that you have to invent these extra dimensions to explain where the gravity has gone.”

The rules of quantum mechanics say that particles behave like waves, and as the LHC ramps up to higher energies the wavelengths of the particles it collides become ever shorter. When the wavelengths of the particles are small enough to match the size of the extra dimensions, they would suddenly feel gravity much more strongly.

“What you’d expect is that as you reach the right energy, you suddenly see inside the extra dimensions, and gravity becomes big and strong instead of feeble and weak,” says Parker. The sudden extra pull of gravity would cause particles to scatter far more inside the machine, giving scientists a clear signal that extra dimensions were real.

Extra dimensions may separate us from realms of space we are completely oblivious to. “There could be a whole universe full of galaxies and stars and civilisations and newspapers that we didn’t know about,” says Parker. “That would be a big deal.”


Higgs Boson Likely a ‘Boring’ Boson: “The thing with physicists is that they love discovering something unexpected, strange or exotic. This mindset is what makes physics, and indeed all science disciplines, awesome. But in light of the grand announcement of the probable discovery of the elusive Higgs boson in July, it looks like the particle that was discovered is likely a “standard” Higgs boson. As in, it’s a little bit boring.

OK, it’s not really boring. The Higgs boson could never be boring. Just a little, um, antisocial? Find out more.

Will the Real Higgs Please Stand Up? (Infographic)

Physicists working at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland have observed evidence of a new subatomic particle. Further research will try to determine if it is the elusive Higgs boson, thought to be responsible for giving matter its property of mass.

In the Standard Model of physics, matter is made up of small particles called fermions (including quarks and leptons). Forces such as electromagnetism are carried by bosons.

Physicists use electromagnetic fields to whip beams of protons around and around, accelerating them to nearly the speed of light. This gives the protons enormous kinetic energy. Finally the beams are allowed to intersect, and where protons collide, their energy is released. New particles – some of them very short-lived – are formed from this energy.

As Albert Einstein discovered, mass can be defined as a quantity of energy. Subatomic particle masses are given as amounts of electron volts (the energy of a single electron accelerated by a potential difference of one volt). The newly discovered particle - possibly the Higgs boson – is found to have a mass of about 125 billion electron volts. Other particles, such as photons, have no mass at all.

Full Article


7 Things You Always Wondered About The Higgs boson

1.What is it?

What is it?

The Higgs boson is the name of the particle that is the last missing piece of the puzzle in the Standard Model of physics, the model that explains pretty much how everything in the universe works — i.e. why things have mass and experience forces.

2.Why is it called the “God Particle”?

Why is it called the "God Particle"?

Nobel Laureate Leon Lederman (above) gave it the nickname because of its importance, and also because it’s kind of everywhere and nowhere at the same time? Some people really don’t like the name because it makes it seem like it actually has something to do with God.

3.Okay then who’s Higgs?

Okay then who's Higgs?

Peter Higgs is the physicist who proposed there was an energy field that occupied the whole universe and that gave particles their mass. This energy field is now called the Higgs field, made up of Higgs bosons. (Remember that thing they’re trying to find?)

4.What does it look like?

7 Things You Always Wondered About The God Particle

I don’t know! They haven’t found it yet. But maybe something like this.

5.How are they going to find it?

How are they going to find it?

There’s this thing called the Large Hadron Collider, the largest and most powerful particle collider in the world, that is essentially a giant underground circular tunnel (about 17 miles.) Physicists use it to smash protons into each other, because when they collide there’s a very tiny flash of energy that sometimes contains a Higgs boson (one collision in a trillion.) Oh and it lasts for like a fraction of a second, that’s why it’s REALLY hard to find.

6.So, uh, why is it such a big deal?

7 Things You Always Wondered About The God Particle

If it exists, it “would be the greatest advance in knowledge of the universe in decades.” It will confirm that everything we’re comprised of has mass — without it, we’re all just massless, meaningless particles floating in space, or something.

7.Oh man! So did they find it?

7 Things You Always Wondered About The God Particle

They accidentally announced its discovery yesterday, but CERN (the place where all that particle colliding has been happening) made an official announcement this morning in Switzerland saying their latest experiments show “strong indications for the presence of a new particle”, which could be the Higgs boson. But maybe not.


Why physicists hate calling Higgs boson the God particle
The term ‘God particle’ came from a publisher looking to shorten the title of a book concerned with the search for the Higgs boson.


Physicists react to Higg boson news
While some researchers see the discovery as a good sign in the search, others are still waiting for conclusive proof of the so-called God particle.

13 December 2011. In a seminar held at CERN1 today, the ATLAS2 and CMS3 experiments presented the status of their searches for the Standard Model Higgs boson. Their results are based on the analysis of considerably more data than those presented at the summer conferences, sufficient to make significant progress in the search for the Higgs boson, but not enough to make any conclusive statement on the existence or non-existence of the elusive Higgs. The main conclusion is that the Standard Model Higgs boson, if it exists, is most likely to have a mass constrained to the range 116-130 GeV by the ATLAS experiment, and 115-127 GeV by CMS. Tantalising hints have been seen by both experiments in this mass region, but these are not yet strong enough to claim a discovery.

Higgs bosons, if they exist, are very short lived and can decay in many different ways. Discovery relies on observing the particles they decay into rather than the Higgs itself. Both ATLAS and CMS have analysed several decay channels, and the experiments see small excesses in the low mass region that has not yet been excluded.

Taken individually, none of these excesses is any more statistically significant than rolling a die and coming up with two sixes in a row. What is interesting is that there are multiple independent measurements pointing to the region of 124 to 126 GeV. It’s far too early to say whether ATLAS and CMS have discovered the Higgs boson, but these updated results are generating a lot of interest in the particle physics community.

“We have restricted the most likely mass region for the Higgs boson to 116-130 GeV, and over the last few weeks we have started to see an intriguing excess of events in the mass range around 125 GeV,” explained ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti.“This excess may be due to a fluctuation, but it could also be something more interesting. We cannot conclude anything at this stage. We need more study and more data. Given the outstanding performance of the LHC this year, we will not need to wait long for enough data and can look forward to resolving this puzzle in 2012.”

“We cannot exclude the presence of the Standard Model Higgs between 115 and 127 GeV because of a modest excess of events in this mass region that appears, quite consistently, in five independent channels,” explained CMS experiment Spokesperson, Guido Tonelli. “The excess is most compatible with a Standard Model Higgs in the vicinity of 124 GeV and below but the statistical significance is not large enough to say anything conclusive. As of today what we see is consistent either with a background fluctuation or with the presence of the boson. Refined analyses and additional data delivered in 2012 by this magnificent machine will definitely give an answer.”

(via pieceinthepuzzlehumanity-deacti)

Is the Higgs boson real?

Imaged Above: A collision event recorded by Atlas at the LHC. Bloggers report rumours that evidence of the Higgs boson will be announced next Tuesday. Photograph: Cern/PA

A couple of blogs, including viXra and Peter Woit’s Not Even Wrong, have now posted rumours that the Atlas and CMS teams see Higgs-like signals around 125GeV, though they say the evidence is not robust enough to claim an official discovery.

Could a Higgs Boson Announcement Be Imminent From the LHC?

Physicists at the Large Hadron Collider could be getting an early Christmas present: the Higgs boson. According to the latest rumors, scientists at the LHC are seeing a signal that could correspond to a Higgs particle with a mass of 125 GeV (a proton is slightly less than 1 GeV).

Public talks are scheduled to discuss the latest results from ATLAS and CMS, two of the main LHC experiments, on Dec. 13. This follows one day after a closed-door CERN council meeting where officials will get a short preview of the findings, whatever they may be.

“Chances are high (but not strictly 100%) that the talks will either announce a (de facto or de iure) discovery or some far-reaching exclusion that will be really qualitative and unexpected,” wrote theoretical physicist Lubos Motl on his blog.

No Higgs? No Problem.. For Now

The world’s most-wanted particle continues to elude the world’s most powerful particle accelerator. A sign that the elusive Higgs boson doesn’t exist? Not so fast. For now, there are good reasons to assume the Higgs is just hiding.

“It’s never too early to think about it, but it is too early to worry,” says Nobel prize-winner Frank Wilczek of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The still-hypothetical Higgs boson is thought to endow all other particles with mass. Confirming its existence would complete the standard model of physics, the leading theory for how particles and forces interact. Finding the Higgs and pinning down its mass, or ruling out its existence and paving the way for new models, is one of the goals of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland.

Since it started smashing protons together in 2009, the LHC has steadily collected data that help rule out various masses for the Higgs from a range of possibilities allowed by the standard model. Combined with earlier results from other accelerators, the latest LHC limits, announced on 22 August at the Lepton-Photon conference in Mumbai, India, mean the Higgs is now restricted to having a mass of between 115 and 145 gigaelectronvolts (GeV), or 122 to 154 times the mass of a proton (mass and energy can be treated interchangeably for particles).

Read More

(via kenobi-wan-obi)