14 May 2012
The CMS collaboration has published its 100th scientific result based upon LHC collision data. Based upon work carried out by a team of collaborators from across the world, an analysis of around 500 trillion proton-proton collisions in 2011 has allowed the world’s best experimental limits to be set on the mass of a Higgs-like particle decaying to pairs of tau leptons.
The Higgs boson is an excitation of the hypothesised fundamental field responsible for ‘electroweak symmetry breaking’. In short, it provides the mathematical means to construct a consistent field theory in which particles have mass. The discovery of the Higgs boson would be the final step in the experimental verification of the Standard Model of fundamental physics – a theory which has so far withstood all scrutiny, but which is also known not to be the ‘final answer’.
Along with a suite of publications examining other potential decay modes of the Higgs boson, this paper helps to narrow the mass range in which the particle can lie. Based upon data currently being taken, CMS expects to either confirm or rule out the existence of the Higgs boson in the next few months. Apparatus and software designed at Bristol are essential in the search for the Higgs, particularly when attempting to isolate its decay to a pair of photons.
Professor Peter Higgs, one of the original proposers of the mechanism which bears his name, will be giving a Science Faculty Colloquium in Bristol at 4pm on Thursday 17 May.
Professor Higgs will join Graham Farmelo and Robin McKie, science editor of The Observer, to discuss Bristol-born physicist Paul Dirac on Wednesday 16 May part of the Bristol Festival of Ideas.