ew York University physicists are part of the research team behind a new finding offering additional evidence supporting the discovery of the Higgs boson.
In 2012, physicists based at the CERN laboratory near Geneva announced the discovery of a new particle that was believed to be the Higgs boson, a subatomic particle that plays a key role in our understanding of the universe. On March 14, after analyzing two and a half times more data than was available for last year’s statement, CERN officials said that the previously discovered particle is “looking more and more like a Higgs boson.”
NYU’s Experimental High Energy Physics group has been a key part of a worldwide collaboration in the search for the Higgs boson, and Kyle Cranmer, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics, has several leadership roles in this endeavor. Cranmer, along with graduate student Sven Kreiss and research assistants Attila Krasznahorkay, Rost Konoplich, and Kirill Prokofiev, were part of a team that conducted the updated analysis.
“All of the fundamental particles we know of are spinning like little tops,” Cranmer says. “The Higgs boson would be the first fundamental particle with no spin, and that is what we have confirmed. In parallel, we are making other precise measurements to see if it is the Higgs boson predicted by a theory called the Standard Model.
“I think the important milestone is that we now consider this new particle to be a Higgs boson, while before we were always very cautious and called it a ‘Higgs-like boson’,” he adds. “The new results both show what we expected—that last year’s discovery is some form of Higgs boson—and give us some optimism that we might unveil new physics through precise measurements.”
The Higgs boson is named after physicist Peter Higgs, who theorized its existence more than 40 years ago as a way to explain why fundamental particles like the electron have mass. It has been dubbed the “God particle” because of its important role in shaping the universe.
“If there was no Higgs, atoms wouldn’t form,” Cranmer explains. “There would be no life.”
For more on NYU’s involvement, go to http://physics.nyu.edu/experimentalparticle.