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New evidence strengthens case that scientists have discovered a Higgs Boson; University of Minnesota physicists play key role

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Media note: The official U.S. LHC press release is available here: http://www.fnal.gov/pub/presspass/press_releases/2013/Higgs-Boson-201303...
The official CERN press release is available here: http://press.web.cern.ch/press-releases/2013/03/new-results-indicate-par...

The new particle discovered at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland last summer is looking more like a Higgs boson than ever before, according to results announced today by the European Organization of Nuclear Research (CERN).

On July 4, 2012, physicists on the CMS and ATLAS experiments announced the discovery of a particle with a close resemblance to the Higgs – the theoretical particle that provides mass to the basic building blocks of matter and the last missing ingredient of the Standard Model of particle physics. Discovery of the Higgs boson could help scientists answer questions surrounding what the Universe is made of, what forces act within it and what gives matter substance.

Twenty-nine University of Minnesota faculty, researchers, students, engineers and technicians are currently involved in the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment, which totals nearly 4,300 active people from 179 institutes and 31 countries.

Although scientists will need to analyze substantially more data before they can conclusively declare the new particle is the Standard Model Higgs boson, the results announced today at the Recontres de Moriond conference in La Thuile, Italy bolster scientists’ confidence.

"Clear evidence that the new particle is the Stand Model Higgs boson still would not complete our understanding of the universe," said Patty McBride, head of the CMS Center at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). "We still wouldn’t understand why gravity is so weak and we would have mysteries of dark matter to confront. But it is satisfying to come a step closer to validating a 48-year-old theory."

The Illinois-based Fermilab serves as the U.S. hub for more than 1,000 scientists and engineers who participate in the CMS experiment.

University faculty Priscilla Cushman, Yuichi Kubota, Jeremiah Mans and Roger Rusack, all from the School of Physics and Astronomy in the College of Science and Engineering, are among the CMS collaboration of scientists investigating a wide range of physics, including the search for the Higgs boson, extra dimensions and particles that could make up dark matter.

University of Minnesota researchers, graduate students and undergrads have been deeply involved in the CMS experiment since 1993 and have played a key role in the design and construction of the CMS detector. Rusack helped design and develop many of the detector’s components, including the electromagnetic calorimeter (ECAL). When the LHC accelerates protons to high energies and crashes them together, the ECAL measures the energies of photons produced in the collisions – a key way of searching for the Higgs boson.

The CMS and ATLAS collaborations have analyzed two and a half times more data than was available for the discovery announcement in July, and, in their preliminary results, they find that he new particle is looking more and more like a Higgs boson.

The analysis included the data from about 500 trillion proton-proton collisions collected in 2011 and from about 1,500 trillion collisions in 2012.

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University of Minnesota physics professor Roger Rusack pictured inside the ECAL, a critical detector in the search for the Higgs boson.

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