CERN Experiments Observe Particle Consistent with Long-sought Higgs Boson; Florida Tech Scientists Play Role

MELBOURNE, FLA.—At a seminar held at CERN, Geneva,on Wednesday, July 4, the ATLAS and Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiments presented their latest preliminary results in the search for the long-sought Higgs particle, proposed to solve the mystery of particle masses. Both experiments observe a new particle in the mass region around 125-126 GeV.

“The results are preliminary but the 5 sigma signal at around 125 GeV we’re seeing is dramatic. This is indeed a new particle. We know it must be a boson and it’s the heaviest boson ever found,”said CMS experiment spokesperson Joe Incandela.

At Florida Tech, the CMS experiment has been the main research focus of the High Energy Particle Physics group in the Physics and Space Sciences Department for more than a decade. This experimental effort is led by Professor Marc Baarmand and Associate Professor Marcus Hohlmann and will soon be strengthened by Francisco Yumiceva, who will join the Florida Tech faculty as an assistant professor this fall.

The group also includes research scientist Igor Vodpiyanov; graduate students Vallary Bhopatkar, Brian Dorney, Himali Kalakhety and Aiken Oliver; and several undergraduate students. The team has been granted over $2.5 million of support from the Department of Energy for the CMS research program.

“The group has made significant contributions to design, construction, and operation of the CMS experiment in the areas of hadron calorimetry, muon detection and high-performance grid computing since 2001. With an abundance of large hadron collider (LHC) data available since 2010, the Florida Tech team has been active in several physics analyses of heavy quark production and has searched for new exotic particles and for the Higgs boson, of course,” said Baarmand.

Looking ahead, the team is also investigating new technologies for particle detection with an upgraded CMS detector.To date, three Florida Tech graduate students have completed their doctoral degrees based on this research and another two will complete theirs in the coming year. According to Hohlmann, the group considers it a great privilege to have a share in this scientific breakthrough; faculty and students look forward to more discoveries with CMS.

“We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature,” said CERN Director General Rolf Heuer. “The discovery 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.”

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