Swissnex and CERN scientist discuss the hunt and discovery of the Higgs Boson particle.
On July 4, 2012, physicists from two of the principal experiments, ATLAS and CMS, at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, announced the first signs of the elusive Higgs boson, capturing the attention of the entire scientific community and indeed the world.
But what is the Higgsboson? What makes it so special? swissnex San Francisco invites you to find out what you always wanted to know about particle physics but never dared to ask about.
Evidence of a "Higgs-like particle" was discovered by high-energy physicists, working in a field of research that focuses on the elementary particles that make up matter and carry the fundamental forces. Since the 1930s, a veritable zoo of particles has been discovered with the help of a succession of accelerators, beginning with Ernest Lawrence's invention of the cyclotron and culminating in the Large Hadron Collider.
The Large Hadron Collider accelerates twin beams of protons or heavy nuclei nearly to the speed of light and forces them to collide with each other in a vast underground edifice, where detectors measure the multitude of particles that spray out of collisions occurring 20 million times per second. The construction of larger and larger colliders, together with improvements in detector technology, has resulted in an avalanche of newly discovered particles.
Over the last century, theoretical and experimental physicists from all over the world have discovered a palette of particles, all with tongue-twisting names: point-particle leptons and hadrons made of quarks, which form baryons and mesons, the stuff of matter, and...boson.
Peter Jenni was spokesperson for the 3,000-member ATLAS collaboration from 1995 until 2009, and remains strongly involved in ATLAS's operation and physical discoveries. Jenni joined CERN in 1980 and has been closely involved with the Large Hadron Collider from its earliest stages since 1984. He has also worked at CERN's Synchro-Cyclotron, Intersecting Storage Rings, and Super Proton Synchrotron, and at the Stanford Linear Accelerator. Jenni received his Diploma for Physics from the University of Bern in 1973 and his doctorate from ETH Zurich in 1976.
Abraham Seiden is a professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and was director of the Institute for Particle Physics for 30 years. An experimental physicist with years of experience building particle detectors, he is a longtime member of the ATLAS Collaboration and a former member of the Scientific Policy Committee at CERN. His physics degrees include a B.S. from Columbia in 1967, an M.S. from Caltech in 1970, and a Ph.D. from UCSC in 1974.