Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


UMass Amherst Physicists’ Work is Critical to Higgs Boson Search

Physicists Benjamin Brau, Carlo Dallapiccola and Stephane Willocq at the University of Massachusetts Amherst were instrumental in this week’s preliminary observation of a new particle, possibly the long-sought Higgs boson, announced by the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) particle physics laboratory.

The Standard Model of particle physics can correctly explain the elementary particles and forces of nature after more than four decades of experiments. But it cannot, without the Higgs boson, explain how most of these particles acquire their mass, which is a key ingredient in the formation of the universe.

Though scientists are not certain this week that the new particle is indeed the Higgs boson, physicists at UMass Amherst who work on the ATLAS project are elated by the possibility and excited that their work since joining the international team eight years ago is paying off.

The UMass Amherst physicists use ATLAS, one of two general-purpose detectors at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located deep underground beneath Switzerland and France, to make significant contributions to the project in muon identification and reconstruction. They have written large parts of the code now used to reconstruct the trajectories of muons detected in the ATLAS Muon Spectrometer.

Willocq says, “The ability to find muons among the debris of the proton collisions from the collider is critical to the research done with ATLAS. The long-sought Higgs boson is being hunted by hundreds of particle physicists eager to discover this hypothetical particle or disprove its existence. Higgs bosons may manifest themselves by decaying into muons as well as other particles. By identifying and measuring those muons and accompanying Higgs decay particles we hope to find evidence for the Higgs. Muons provide telltale signs of the ephemeral presence of a Higgs boson produced by the collider.”

A muon is a negatively charged, unstable elementary particle similar to the electron, but about 200 times heavier. The ATLAS detector includes a huge magnet that bends the paths of charged particles for momentum measurement. The device records and measures particles created in collisions, along with their paths, energies and identities.

Willocq adds, “We are responsible for the maintenance and further development of the muon event data classes, as well as substantial parts of the reconstruction software. Since joining ATLAS in 2004, we have held coordinator positions for muon reconstruction, muon software, muon combined data quality and muon combined performance. Graduate students have also played a significant role in the commissioning and continued operation of the endcap Muon Spectrometer detector system, as well as muon data acquisition.”

Scientists at the LHC announced their latest results at a seminar in Switzerland this week on July 4. Physicists from across the United States had gathered at laboratories and universities in the middle of the night to watch it streamed live online. Most U.S. scientists participate in experiments from their home institutions, accessing and analyzing their data remotely through high-capacity networks and grid computing.

It was in 1964 that Peter Higgs proposed the existence of a new particle, now known as the Higgs boson, whose coupling with other particles would determine their mass. But it has eluded discovery. Now, scientists are approaching the moment of knowing whether the Higgs is the right solution to this problem.

More than 1,700 people from U.S. institutions, including 89 American universities and seven U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories, helped design, build and operate the LHC accelerator and its four particle detectors. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science and the National Science Foundation provide support for research and detector operations at the LHC along with computing for the ATLAS experiment.

Preliminary findings announced this week are based on data collected in 2011 and 2012, while 2012 data are still under analysis. More presentations about the results from the CERN particle physic lab are expected to be announced soon at the International Conference on High Energy Physics Melbourne, Australia.

To read the CERN press release, go to

Janet Lathrop | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Scientists discover particles similar to Majorana fermions
25.10.2016 | Chinese Academy of Sciences Headquarters

nachricht Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves
24.10.2016 | Max-Planck-Institut für Struktur und Dynamik der Materie

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Ice shelf vibrations cause unusual waves in Antarctic atmosphere

25.10.2016 | Earth Sciences

Fluorescent holography: Upending the world of biological imaging

25.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Etching Microstructures with Lasers

25.10.2016 | Process Engineering

More VideoLinks >>>