New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

NYU Physicists Help Narrow Search for Elusive Higgs Boson, A Building Block of the Universe

December 13, 2011
158

New York University physicists are part of a research team that has narrowed the search for the Higgs boson, a sub-atomic particle that is a building block of the universe. In an announcement made today in Geneva, scientists said they have found signs of its existence and narrowed the regions where the elusive particle could be.

“If these first hints evolve into a conclusive observation of the Higgs boson, it will be a triumph of human intellect and ingenuity,” said NYU physicist Kyle Cranmer, one of the project’s researchers.

The Higgs boson is named after physicist Peter Higgs, who theorized its existence more than 40 years ago as a way to explain why atoms have weight. Its discovery would provide fundamental insights into the origin of mass—specifically, why some particles have mass—and explain other scientific mysteries. It has been dubbed the “God Particle” because it is associated with an energy field that gives other particles their mass, or resistance.

For decades, physicists have been searching for the Higgs boson, the only particle of the Standard Model of Particle Physics that scientists have yet to detect. The Standard Model of Particle Physics describes the universe in terms of its fundamental particles and the forces between them.

In their search, physicists have employed the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), located at the CERN laboratory near Geneva. LHC, the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, has enough energy to detect the remaining mass range for the Higgs boson, with today’s announcement revealing the collider’s capabilities. By colliding high-energy beams in the centers of the LHC’s particle detectors, scientists aim to make discoveries about the nature of the physical universe. The debris of the collisions reveals the nature of fundamental particle interactions and may also contain as-yet undiscovered particles. 

"If this holds up, we will look back on this and realize that today was the day that the Higgs boson really first showed itself," said NYU physicist Neal Weiner. "We will now begin to test whether this particle looks quantitatively, not just qualitatively, like the Higgs boson. If there are differences, it will point us not just to the completion of the standard model, but possibly what comes next."

Scientists from NYU’s Experimental High Energy Physics group are part of a world-wide collaboration to investigate the fundamental nature of matter and the basic forces that shape the universe. The collaboration, ATLAS, is based at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, that employs LHC.

“We have restricted the most likely mass region for the Higgs boson to 116-130 GeV, and over the last few weeks we have started to see an intriguing excess of events in the mass range around 125 GeV,” explained ATLAS experiment spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti. “This excess may be due to a fluctuation, but it could also be something more interesting. We cannot conclude anything at this stage. We need more study and more data. Given the outstanding performance of the LHC this year, we will not need to wait long for enough data and can look forward to resolving this puzzle in 2012.”

Members of the NYU team working on this project include Professors Andy Haas, Peter Nemethy, and Allen Mincer as well as Cranmer and researchers Diego Casadei, Hooft van Huysduynen, Rostislav Konoplich, Attila Krasznahorkay, Sven Kreiss, George Lewis, Christopher Musso, Ricardo Neves, Kirill Prokofiev, and Long Zhao.

For more on NYU’s involvement, go to http://physics.nyu.edu/experimentalparticle/ and click on the “Atlas” tab.

This Article is in the following Topics:
Arts and Science, Research, Faculty

Type: Article

Press Contact: James Devitt | (212) 998-6808

NYU Physicists Help Narrow Search for Elusive Higgs Boson, A Building Block of the Universe

New York University physicists are part of a research team that has narrowed the search for the Higgs boson (simulated above), a sub-atomic particle that is a building block of the universe. In an announcement made today in Geneva, scientists said they have found signs of its existence and narrowed the regions where the elusive particle could be. ATLAS Experiment © 2011 CERN.


Search News



NYU In the News

Paying It Backward: NYU Alum Funds Scholarships

The Wall Street Journal profiled Trustee Evan Chesler on why he decided to chair the Momentum fund-raising campaign.

A Nobel Prize Party: Cheese, Bubbles, and a Boson

The New Yorker talked to Professor Kyle Cranmer and graduate student Sven Kreiss about NYU’s role in the discovery of the Higgs boson, which resulted in a Nobel prize for the scientists who predicted its existence.

The World as They Knew It

The New York Times reviewed the exhibit at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World on how ancient Greeks and Romans mapped the known and unknown areas of their world.

Elite Institutions: Far More Diverse Than They Were 20 Years Ago

NYU made stronger gains over the last 20 years in increasing diversity than any other major research university, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Program Seeks to Nurture ‘Data Science Culture’
at Universities

The New York Times reported on the multi-million collaboration among NYU and two other universities to harness the potential of Big Data, including an interview with Professor Yann LeCun, director of NYU’s Center for Data Science.

NYU Footer