Why does the space shuttle returning to Earth cause two separate sonic booms?
By Kevin Pitts
July 2, 2012
Scientists at Fermilab today revealed their latest results in the search for the Higgs boson. Press accounts here and here. The Higgs boson is a hypothesized particle that could be the explanation for why particles have mass. It's not something that we think about very often, but if the proton was massless, we wouldn't be here. So why is it that particles have mass? I am a collaborator on the CDF experiment at Fermilab, and we were the ones providing the results today.
But the plot is more interesting, because experiments at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN are scheduled to unveil their latest results on July 4th. If you are in the midwestern US and happen to be up at 2am on the 4th, connect to the webcast here. University of Illinois physicists are members of the ATLAS Collaboration, one of the two big experiments that will be reporting results Wednesday morning.
These results are coming out now in advance of the International Conference on High Energy Physics (ICHEP), which is the big conference this summer.
And yes, we have undergraduate students performing research on both the CDF and ATLAS experiments!
July 4, 2012 update. The CMS and ATLAS Collaborations have announced discovery of a Higgs-like particle. That means we have a new particle that is consistent with being the Higgs boson. It's possible that it isn't actually the Higgs boson, only time and more measurements will tell. Whether it's the Higgs or not, this is an amazing achievement that has been decades in the making.
Prof. Mark Neubauer will deliver a special seminar describing the discovery at the University of Illinois on July 10th at 3pm in room 141 Loomis.
July 8, 2012 update. Some of my colleagues like to claim that we do a tremendous job explaining the science we do. Outreach is definitely important, but I don't think we do a very good job of it. Take a look at this video and see how well you think we do.
If you have questions about the Physics Illinois Undergraduate Program, contact the Undergraduate Office, 217.333.4361.
If you have any feedback or suggestions for this blog, please contact Kevin Pitts.
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