Physicists aid likely discovery of Higgs
Summer 2012 will go down as a monumental time for physicists worldwide, including members of UT Arlington’s Center of Excellence for High Energy Physics. Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland announced the discovery of a new particle in July and believe there’s a good chance it’s the Higgs boson, or “God particle,” they’ve been seeking.
“Without the Higgs, how particles get mass was an unsolved mystery in science. I would classify this as one of the biggest discoveries in physics during the past 30 years,” says Kaushik De, a physics professor and coordinator of the ATLAS group at UT Arlington. ATLAS is one of the experiments at the Large Hadron Collider.
But last summer’s news doesn’t mean the potential for scientific breakthroughs is fading. Scientists still need confirmation that the new particle is the Higgs.
UT Arlington professors and students will continue to participate in ATLAS, both through on-site work in Geneva and in the United States with the massive ATLAS Southwest Tier 2 Center for grid computing on campus. Faculty and students also are designing detectors for the International Linear Collider, a 31-kilometer electron-positron collider.
In October UT Arlington hosted the International Workshop on Future Linear Colliders. Organized by physics professors Andrew White and Jaehoon Yu, the conference drew hundreds of scientists to campus and featured a lecture by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Weinberg of UT Austin.
“The Higgs announcement allows us to take the linear collider idea to the next level,” Dr. Yu says. “With the ability to collide beams of particles 14,000 times every second at energies as high as 500 GeV (gigaelectronvolts), the linear collider could give us a host of new information about this new particle and help address other mysteries like dark matter and dark energy.”