Our researchers announce finding of particle thought to be the Higgs boson
Scientists at the University of Sheffield working with researchers from across the world at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Switzerland have announced the finding of a particle thought to be the elusive Higgs boson.
These results mark a significant breakthrough in our understanding of the fundamental laws that govern the Universe.
At a seminar held at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory, which was relayed to staff and students at the University of Sheffield Hicks Building by scientist Dr Davide Costanzo, the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented their latest results in the search for the Higgs particle. Both experiments see strong indications for the presence of a new particle in the mass region around 125- 126 GeV.
Professor Dan Tovey of the University's Department of Physics and Astronomy who led the Sheffield team said: “This is potentially the biggest breakthrough in fundamental physics for at least 30 years. These results provide the most stringent test so far of the Standard Model of particle physics, which represents in a single equation our understanding of how the Universe works at the smallest distance scales.
“The focus of our work will now turn to measuring precisely the properties of the new particle, confirming that they match those expected for the Higgs boson. This will help us to understand the implications of the discovery for new theories extending the Standard Model to even smaller scales. Many years of hard work will be required to exploit the full power of the data from ATLAS and the LHC for understanding how the Universe began and how it works today."
Scientists and technicians from the University of Sheffield have been essential to the ATLAS project and the investigation to find the Higgs boson particle, designing, building and operating a detector used in the research as well as creating software and analysing data.
New standards for technicians working across higher education were launched by the University of Sheffield on the same day as the findings were announced. Working in partnership with The Institute of Science and Technology (IST) and the Science Council, the University is seeking to help secure futures and create new career opportunities for technicians working in the sector.
Thanks to the results coming from the two experiments, ATLAS and CMS, these preliminary findings appear to show a dramatic 5 sigma signal. If this is indeed a new particle, then it must be a boson and it would be the heaviest such particle ever found.
Speaking of the findings the Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said: “This news from CERN is a breakthrough in world science. The UK has made an enormous contribution over the last 20 years supporting the search for the Higgs Boson. Our researchers, universities and industry partners have been instrumental in making the Large Hadron Collider such a success. They deserve recognition for their contribution to this scientific milestone that will change the way we look at the Universe from now on. And of course Professor Higgs of Edinburgh University has now secured his place in history.”
The UK is a world leader in particle physics and has played a central role in this research, from the theorists who formulated the model known as the Higgs mechanism, to the engineers and scientists who have designed, built and exploited the LHC – one of the most complex scientific instruments ever built.
“We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “The observation of a particle consistent with the Higgs boson opens the way to more detailed studies, requiring larger statistics, which will pin down the new particle’s properties, and is likely to shed light on other mysteries of our universe.”
Positive identification of the new particle’s characteristics will take considerable time and data. But whatever form the Higgs particle takes, our knowledge of the fundamental structure of matter is about to be enriched.
The STFC pays the UK contribution to the CERN budget as well as supporting UK participation in the four LHC experimental detector projects, including the Higgs boson detectors ATLAS and CMS. This investment, along with the more than 200 UK nationals employed by CERN and nearly 600 UK scientists regularly working at CERN has been a major contributor in enabling us to announce this discovery today.
Additional information can be found at the Sheffield ATLAS group site here