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Physic professors have worked on ATLAS experiment.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

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Media Contact: Traci Peterson, Office:817-272-9208, Cell:817-521-5494, tpeterso@uta.edu

Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva, Switzerland announced today that they have found the first “tantalizing hints” of the elusive Higgs boson particle in a narrow region of mass ranges, news celebrated throughout the world’s scientific community.

ATLAS experiment

A proton-proton collision at the Large Hadron Collider. (Courtesy of: ATLAS Collaboration)

The UT Arlington College of Science’s High Energy Physics team is part of the U.S. team contributing to the experiments, both on-site in Switzerland and by analyzing data at the University’s massive data center. UT Arlington researchers will gather this afternoon in the Chemistry Physics Building to discuss the work. They are part of the ATLAS experiment, one of two research groups that revealed Tuesday’s intriguing results.

Physicists believe interaction with the Higgs boson gives particles in the universe their mass. It is the only particle in the physics Standard Model that has not been observed. Physicists at the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider have been aggressively seeking it.

Tuesday’s news means the Higgs hunters are coming very close to filling in this missing piece, said UT Arlington Physics Professor Kaushik De, co-director of the High Energy Physics Group.

"After 15 years of contributions to ATLAS by our group here at The University of Texas at Arlington, it is exciting to be at the threshold of an astonishing scientific breakthrough," he said.

De said more data, expected from the LHC in 2012, will show whether these hints are the Higgs or an accidental fluctuation in the data.

In a news release from CERN, Fabiola Gianotti, ATLAS experiment spokesperson, agreed.

“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. This excess may be due to a fluctuation, but it could also be something more interesting,” she said, adding: “We can not 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.”

Mass ranges are defined in GeV or gigaelectronvolt, a unit of energy equal to one billion electron volts.

Though its discovery will be a watershed event, scientists at UT Arlington and in Switzerland reiterated Tuesday that locating the Higgs, or ruling it out, starts a host of new questions and potential experiments.

"The prospect of confirming the discovery of the Higgs in 2012 is extremely exciting as it opens the possibility for finding many other new physics phenomena that have been long predicted,” said Andrew White, UT Arlington physics professor and co-director of the High Energy Physics Group. “If the Higgs is confirmed in 2012, this will set the stage for the next major High Energy Physics facility – the International Linear Collider. The LHC and the ILC working together can reveal the details of mechanisms and symmetries of nature at the most fundamental level."

Members of the UT Arlington High Energy Physics Group are available for interviews today. Their seminar about today’s CERN announcements is scheduled for 3 p.m. in Room 303 of the Chemistry Physics Building, 700 Planetarium Place.

To learn more about Tuesday’s announcement from CERN, visit http://public.web.cern.ch/public/ or http://fnal.gov/pub/presspass/press_releases/2011/uslhc_20111213.html.

The High Energy Physics Group is representative of the outstanding faculty researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive research institution of 33,439 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

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